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Iron and Taconite Mining in MN

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1 Iron and Taconite Mining in MN
Supplying the Nation For Over 100 Years

2 Iron Ore = Steel Iron ore is main ingredient in production of steel
98% of iron ore is used to manufacture steel MN produces about 80% of the nation’s iron ore Minnesota has led the nation in its production since the 1880s

3 Vermillion Iron Range Iron ore discovered by accident near Lake Vermillion in the 1860s Prospectors originally attracted to the area by a “gold rush” but little gold was found First shipment of iron ore occurred in 1884

4 Tower Sudan Mine At first ore was near the surface and easily mined
Over time, deposits were found deeper and required expensive underground mines

5 Life as an Iron Miner Mining was hard work
Early miners used pickaxes and shovels Horses and mules hauled ore out of the mine Work was dangerous Living conditions often unhealthy Bankruptcies were common First mining camp near Mountain Iron in 1893

6 Now Closed – Ore Exhausted
Mountain Iron Mine Iron ore was discovered at Mountain Iron on Mesabi Range a few years later First shipment occurred in 1892 Most early mining done in underground mines but quickly switched to open pit because it was cheaper Steam shovels were able to do the work of many men Mountain Iron Mine Now Closed – Ore Exhausted

7 Hull Rust Mine World’s largest open pit mine
Known as “Grand Canyon of the North” Over 3 miles long, a mile wide and 535 feet deep Material removed is equal to digging a small tunnel from MN through the core of the earth and out the other side At its peak in 1940 this mine produced approximately 25% of US iron ore

8 Hibbing: The Town That Moved
Established in 1893 by German miner Frank Hibbing who had discovered iron ore nearby In the 1920's the town moved two miles south to its present location after iron ore was discovered under the city's old location Buildings were moved using steel wheels and logs Move started in 1919 and took many years to complete More than 180 houses and 20 businesses were relocated to their current sites

9 Hill Annex Mine Iron mining began in 1913 and continued until 1978
Was 6th largest mine in MN

10 MN’s Iron-Bearing Formations
Vermillion Range Mesabi Range Cuyuna Range

11 Mesabi Range 97% of MN’s iron ore has come from the Mesabi Range
Only small amounts have come from the Vermillion and Cuyuna Ranges Only active mines on the Mesabi

12 US Iron Production

13 Iron Ore Depletion By the 1970s most of MN’s high-grade iron ore was exhausted Production began to concentrate on a low-grade ore known as “taconite” Taconite consists of approximately 25-30% iron with the rest waste material Without processing, taconite cannot be used to produce steel

14 Taconite Taconite is extremely hard rock Process begins with blasting
Raw material then transported to processing plant

15 Taconite Processing Taconite rock is first crushed
Iron ore is separated by strong electronic magnets Formed into pellets Baked at high temperatures Taconite Crusher Taconite Separator

16 Taconite Pellets Finished taconite pellets transported to Duluth for shipment east

17 MN Taconite Plants Butler Taconite Hibbing Taconite MinnTac

18 Major Arrowhead Urban Centers

19 Steel Production Centers

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