In the past, iron ore was mined on three iron ranges – the Cuyuna, Mesabi and Vermilion – and also in Fillmore County in southeastern Minnesota. Today, only the Mesabi Range still has iron ore/taconite mining taking place. Clay is mined in the Minnesota River Valley.
Hematite and magnetite are the best quality and most significant iron ores for steelmaking.
Australia is by far the world’s largest iron ore mining country.
Mesabi is an Ojibwa name meaning “giant.”
|Iron Range Township, Minnesota|
|• Water||1.8 sq mi (4.5 km2)|
|Elevation||1,427 ft (435 m)|
Taconite is mined from the Mesabi Iron Range in Northern Minnesota. It is a very hard rock containing low-grade iron ore used to make iron and steel. Using explosives, taconite is blasted into pieces that are then crushed into smaller pieces at a processing plant.
Minerals and construction materials mined in Minnesota
Iron Ore: is used to make steel of various types and is the most common metal used. In the U.S., iron ore is only mined in northern Minnesota and Michigan. Construction Aggregate: includes sand and gravel as well as crushed stone.
Taconite is mined from the Mesabi Iron Range, near Hibbing, MN. Then it is processed into pellets and moved by train–or on ore boats from Duluth–to ports and steel mills around the Great Lakes region.
Then, in the summer of 1893, gold was discovered on Little American Island in Rainy Lake (along the U.S.- Canadian border). Miners hoping to make it rich flocked to the northern region. The Little American Mine has been the only productive gold mine ever to operate in Minnesota.
Minnesota has sand and gravel deposits that were created by fast moving meltwaters from the glaciers. Some of these deposits appear to have had favorable conditions for the formation of placer gold deposits, especially in areas of the state where gold has been found nearby in small amounts in the bedrock.
Australia and Brazil are among the world’s largest iron ore producers and hold a large portion of the world’s iron ore reserves. Australia makes up half of the world’s iron ore exports. Brazil exported around 23 percent of the world’s total iron exports.
|Rank||Country||Iron Ore Production (in thousands of metric tons)|
Iron is the most abundant element on earth but not in the crust. The extent of the accessible iron ore reserves is not known, though Lester Brown of the Worldwatch Institute suggested in 2006 that iron ore could run out within 64 years (that is, by 2070), based on 2% growth in demand per year.
The rocks are middle Precambrian in age, about 1.8 billion years old, and consist of layered iron carbonates and iron silicates. Iron ore mining first occurred in Minnesota on the Vermilion Iron Range in 1884 followed by the Mesabi Iron Range (1892), Cuyuna Range (1911) and the Fillmore County District (1941).
Current reserves at the mine are 81 million tons and 10 years. For decades, questions have lingered about the day when crude ore reserves on the Iron Range might be exhausted.
Missabe Mountain Mine, Virginia, Minnesota – Minnesota Digital Library.
However, with the arrival of iron ore from Brazil into the market place, a one-year benchmark price system was put into place that lasted for 40 years.
Lehtinen said the cost to produce traditional taconite is $60 to $80 per ton in Minnesota, with transportation to China about the same cost.
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