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Mining Operation Updates at SME Conference

Updated: April 17, 2019 06:42 PM

2018 is in the rearview mirror, and mining operations are proud of what they accomplished. Leaders gave brief updates from the traditional iron ore mines and new ventures as well, during the final day of the 2019 SME MN Conference at the DECC.

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Larry Sutherland, General Manager of Mining Solutions for U.S. Steel, mentioned safety. In particular, he said Keetac has received the company's safety award for the third time since its inception in 2010. "They only had two MSHA recordable incidents, and zero days away from work cases."

Cleveland-Cliffs also mentioned a great safety record. Chad Asgaard, general manager of United Taconite, spoke on behalf of the company. He highlighted that they've made a big commitment to reducing environmental incidents. "We operate in our own backyards. Nobody wants this place better, environmentally, than everybody in this room and up on the Range."

Minorca Mine in Virginia had a good 2018. The operations manager, Robb Peterson, mentioned there has been a lot of changes with personnel, but they have a great team in place. He's also looking forward to working with Hibbing Taconite more in the future, when ArcelorMittal takes over management in August.

The new types of mining also had their chance to provide updates. PolyMet and Twin Metals each had a presentation too.

Brad Moore, from PolyMet, said the question they get the most is when are they going to start construction. That's dependent on lining up the financing, which he said does take time. "To put it into context, it took us 14 years to get through the environmental permitting process." 

As for the legal challenges they face, he maintained they are focused on the future. "The wars on non-ferrous mining will end. Once we're mining responsibly, the debate and tenor will change," he added.

Charlie Knilans, project engineer from Twin Metals, presented an update. He said they've invested more than $400 million dollars so far in the environmental groundwork. "By the end of 2019, Twin Metals Minnesota anticipates submitting a draft scoping environmental assessment worksheet to the Minnesota DNR and a draft mine plan of operation to the BLM (Bureau of Land Management)."

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