Minnesota Celebrates 135 Years of Iron Mining

Posted August 22, 2019

The Iron Mining Association of Minnesota (IMA) is happy to share that iron mining has shaped the state of Minnesota for 135 years. In August of 1884 our state’s first shipment of iron ore began its voyage from Two Harbors through the Great Lakes for processing – marking the beginning of a profoundly important industry for Minnesota.

“People may not realize it, but iron ore truly built this region,” Kelsey Johnson, President of the IMA explained. “The cities that exist on the Iron Range and throughout northeastern Minnesota are here because iron miners settled in the area more than 135 years ago.”

While the iron mining process has changed significantly since the 19th century, the industry remains crucial to Minnesota’s economy. Each year, iron mines, iron processing and related businesses make a total economic impact of $3 billion to the state and region’s economy.

“Iron mining is the past and present of our region’s economy,” Johnson continued. “And with the new industry innovations and investments on the Iron Range, we can be sure that iron mining is also the future of this region. Iron mining is thriving in Minnesota.”

Back in 1884, the first shipment of iron ore from the Soudan Mine to Two Harbors was 3,000 tons. Today, Minnesota’s iron mines produce about 40 million tons of taconite each year, 85% of the nation’s domestic iron. 2018 marked another successful year for the Minnesota iron mining industry, with shipments of 22 million short tons of iron ore. Thus far in 2019, 9 million short tons have been shipped from the Port of Duluth-Superior port alone, which helps make it the Great Lakes’ top port by tonnage.

The IMA will be celebrating 135 years of iron mining in Minnesota with a booth at the Minnesota State Fair on Friday, August 30th. The booth will be located in Dan Patch Park.

“If you’re interested in the impact iron mining has had on Minnesota, we encourage you to stop by our booth! Also, keep in mind: the car you arrive in and the rides and structures that you see at the fair would not be possible without iron.”