I grew up on the Iron Range (Cuyuna, specifically), in the heart of Minnesota mining country, where most of my friends and neighbors worked in the mines. I support our mine workers, their good-paying jobs, their unions, and local business suppliers. I support our mining families, our mining industry and all the economic, social, and cultural benefits mining has brought to northern Minnesota over decades of growth and development.
Thanks to advances in mining technology, the time has long past when we had to choose between mining and the environment.
I believe we can do mining the right way, creating good-paying jobs while adhering to the strictest environmental and safety standards to ensure safe working conditions, and that clean air, clear water, and healthy soil continue to support our tourism industry and Minnesota quality of life.
The fact is, the precious metals and minerals mined by Iron Rangers touch every part of our daily lives, while reducing our carbon footprint and making us more energy-efficient:
- New cars contain more than 1 ton of iron, steel, copper, nickel, and nickel-based aluminum – hybrid vehicles are even more energy efficient.
- Wind turbines contain hundreds of tons of steel and copper – and reduce our air pollution.
- Cellphones contain copper and palladium – conserving resources and advancing communication technology.
- Lithium-ion batteries contain nickel, cobalt, manganese, and more – and help us save energy.
- Modern catalytic convertors contain platinum and palladium – reducing our carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.
- Every computer – television – light bulb – printer – iPad – and on and on – contains iron ore and precious metals that we mine in Minnesota, and helps reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.
I believe mining and environmental protection should work hand-in-hand as we tap the materials necessary to produce next-generation products and technology, as well as the iron ore and steel that goes into our automobiles, buildings, machinery, appliances, roads, bridges, highways, and ports – every aspect of our nation’s infrastructure and industrial economy.
We serve the planet and our future by mining these minerals here in America, where the industry is closely regulated, where workers are protected, and where air, water, and land is respected, protected, and restored.
Below are two opinion pieces on mining I have written for local papers, as well as my complete statement to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the Polymet project.
More on Mining
The U.S. House of Representatives last night passed Congressman Rick Nolan’s bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to reaffirm that a strong domestic iron ore and steel industry is vital to our national security. The NDAA as amended is expected to come up for final passage on Friday.
FORBES — Jeff Kayfes was sitting in a bucket seat, hands on dual joysticks, trying to line up his unloading machine with a cog on a rail car full of limestone and dolomite.
This limestone unloading job is new for Kayfes who was still getting used to his bird's-eye view from above the rail car and the video-game controls in his hands. But after 41 years as a steelworker at United Taconite, it wasn't anything he couldn't handle.
Two years ago, the United Taconite (UTAC) mine and processing plant were idled, along with about 50 percent of its Iron Range peers. A year later, a plan to re-start the UTAC facilities was unveiled. Today, the Eveleth mine and Forbes mill are bustling with activity.
“We have much to celebrate,” UTAC General Manager Santi Romani said at a Tuesday celebration at the processing plant. “This is a very important milestone.”
FORBES — United Taconite is no longer a one-pellet plant.
While it’s true that only one pellet can be made at a time, employees there now make an iron ore pellet and the Mustang superflux pellet.
In another positive sign for Minnesota’s Iron Range, the parent company of United Taconite has started production at its new $75 million Mustang “superflux” pellet plant in Forbes, Minn.
Ohio-based Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. said the project “was flawlessly executed,” on budget and on schedule after nine months of construction. And firing up the plant equipment had no hiccups on its first day.
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan today testified before the International Trade Commission (ITC) to urge them to make a final affirmative determination on a petition to place duties of up to 209% on foreign steel rebar.
After championing successful efforts to end illegal steel dumping with tariffs and taxes as high as 500%, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan expressed his cautious support for President Trump’s latest executive order to direct the Commerce Department to investigate whether steel imports to the United States should be prohibited on national security grounds.
The meetings were set in a private hallway on Capitol Hill last week, just outside the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar emerged first, and at a separate meeting time U.S. Sen. Al Franken briefly left the hearing for one of President Trump’s most important appointments.
A coalition of six representatives from the Iron Range were waiting for the lawmakers, packets of information in hand.
Mining hadn't even been proposed yet. There was still just mineral exploration in far Northeastern Minnesota, the drilling down into the Earth to see what was there, to see if there was enough to help satisfy our nation's hunger for the copper and other metals that power our everyday existence, our necessities like cell phones, cars and lights.