A look back at the moves in the mining industry in 2021 | www.WDIO.com

A look back at the moves in the mining industry in 2021

Updated: December 31, 2021 07:10 PM
Created: December 31, 2021 12:09 PM

We all hoped that this year, 2021, would be better. And in some ways, it has been.

Production numbers for the mines are strong, coming in at nearly 39 million tons. And steel demand is high.

Here's a trip down memory lane for a minute.

January: Big change for the country, with President Biden taking office. Companies continue to pledge sustainability.

February: Governor Tim Walz sent letters to both Cleveland-Cliffs and U.S. Steel, urging them to work together when it comes to the minerals in Nashwauk. Cliffs announced they have a solution to the dwindling mine life at Hibtac, but details have not been made public.

March: As spring marches closer, mine workers find out they are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The Army Corp of Engineers opens up the Soo Locks 12 hours early, to get more pellets to the steel mills faster. And they've done it again, the dynamic duo of Austin Schackman and Mason Kroll won a mining video contest.

April: COVID hit one of the lakers, the Presque Isle. But the boat was cleaned and back on the water shortly. Like many things, the SME conference went virtual. Cliffs' CEO Lourenco Goncalves said he expects every employee to get vaccinated. And the Minnesota Supreme Court sent PolyMet's permit to mine back for more work, including a closure date.

May: The DNR terminated the state mineral leases with Mesabi Metallics. The company then filed a lawsuit over that action, and announced that former U.S. Steel leader Larry Sutherland is their new CEO.  The campaign to Save the Boundary Waters said a judge ordered the DNR to reveiw the nonferrous mining rules, to see if they adequately protect the BWCA.

June: Cliffs celebrated their new HBI facility in Toledo, which came online in late 2020. U.S. Steel donates 42 acres of land to the Nashwauk-Keewatin school district for a potential new building site. 

July: The Minnesota Court of Appeals sends PolyMet's air permit back to the MPCA. Cliffs announces a vaccine incentive program. U.S. Steel celebrates the completion of their $110 million dollar shovel replacement project.

August: Cliffs employees who got the vaccine find out they will each get $1500, and if their facility reached the 75% threshold, they'd get another $1500. U.S. Steel donates $350,000 for the new gym space in the Rock Ridge high school. Twin Metals announced they will use electric vehicles for their fleet.

September: The first Women in the Workforce event in Hibbing brought together female leaders from all kinds of male-dominated fields, including mining. Another honor for the Erie Mining History Project team, as the traveling exhibits finds a new home inside the historic city hall in Aurora. And the unions and Women of Steel work together on a Range-wide school supply drive.

October: The Biden adminstration moves to withdraw land from mineral exploration, and started the process of a two year study on the potential impact of mining near the BWCA. Big news from the iron ore side, with Cliffs announcing they will move production of their DR grade pellet from Northshore to Minorca.

November: After months of debate, the infrastructure bill gets signed into law. Cliffs finalizes the purchase of a scrap metal processing company. And U.S. Steel celebrates 120 years on the NYSE.

December: COVID case rates cause the IMA to postpone the annual dinner and meeting. In better news, U.S. Steel says they have partnered with two companies to create a new, sustainable and high strength steel rail car. And right before Christmas, PolyMet said the state has activated their air permit again.

2022 is a contract year for the steelworkers. Leader in the industry are hopeful that new, fair contracts and strong demand for steel are in the future.

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