2019 Mining Year in Review

Updated: December 26, 2019 06:07 PM

Another year has flown by, and there were plenty of moving parts in the mining industry. Here's a recap of the highs and lows of 2019.


A new governor took office in January. Tim Walz and his administration made the move to debar Essar from doing business in Minnesota. Then, just a few days into the new year, the Range and the mining industry suffered a big loss with the death of Tommy Rukavina.

In February, Senator Amy Klobuchar announced she was running for president. An she mentioned her mining heritage during the announcement, and on Good Morning America.
There was also a big move for the joint high school for Eveleth-Gilbert and Virginia. The IRRRB approved funding for the major project.

Moving to March, the final permit was issued to PolyMet. Then, an announcement that former DNR commissioner Tom Landwehr is now leading the campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. And a new mine inspector, Derek Harbin, was sworn in.

The annual SME conference took over the DECC in April. Leaders shared updates about the active mines and the proposed ones.

With the warmer weather, came May. On Mother's Day, President Trump's trade advisor held a roundtable at the DECC. Mining and shipping leaders attended. In mid-May, Twin Metals got their leases reinstated. 

In June, the EPA announced an audit of the review of the MPCA's handling of a permit for PolyMet. We visited Minntac for the celebration of their new shovel. And the new Mine View opened in Hibbing!

Moving to July, Twin Metals announced they are going to use the dry stack method for storing tailings. The DNR announced they had withdrawn $1 million dollars in financial assurance from Mesabi Metallics, in connection to alleged violations at Oxhide Creek. Once the DNR confirmed Mesabi was back in compliance, the money was reinstated.

On to August, Cleveland-Cliffs celebrated the expansion at Northshore Mining. The ability to make more DR grade pellets is important for their HBI facility in Toledo. ArcelorMittal took over management at Hibbing Taconite. And there's now a project labor agreement in place to build Twin Metals.

On a cool September morning, Congressman Pete Stauber boarded the Roger Blough for a trip down to the Soo Locks. The Minnesota Court of Appeals stayed permits for PolyMet. 

In October, we interviewed President Trump when he came to Minneapolis for a rally. He referred to mining, and a moment when a man thanked him for his work to level the playing field and steel tariffs.  A couple of weeks later, we headed back to the cities for the oral arguments about PolyMet in front of the Court of Appeals. The historic ore boat, the William A. Irvin, moved back to the Minnesota Slip. And Hibbing Taconite donated its pink production truck to the new Mine View.

November brought tragedy to the industry, with the death of Kenny Mattson at Minorca Mine. Later in the month, the DNR said they will prepare an independent EIS for the Twin Metals project. 

And finally, in December, a six-year labor of love about Erie Mining was published. And Twin Metals submitted their long-anticipated mine plan.

Plenty of progress. And now, all eyes are ahead to 2020.

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