State, iron mining officials discuss School Trust Lands

Posted August 30, 2017

State, iron mining officials discuss School Trust Lands

State legislators, county officials, and state regulators toured School Trust Lands last week before meeting with iron mining officials to discuss this little-known facet of K-12 funding in Minnesota.

School trust lands are set aside by the state constitution and account for tens of millions of dollars that go to all public school districts in Minnesota each year. There are currently 2.5 million acres of school trust lands and another one million acres of mineral rights in the state, 65 percent of which are located in Northeast Minnesota.

“Many people are not aware of Northeast Minnesota’s impact on the rest of the state when it comes to school funding,” said Iron Mining Association of Minnesota (IMA) President Kelsey Johnson. “But the truth is every student in the state benefits from our industry and our region.”

In fact, rents and royalties from taconite leases account for approximately 95 percent of the total annual revenue in school trust lands accounts, according to the Office of Minnesota School Trust Lands.

Numbers from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Lands and Minerals show that Minnesota’s iron mines contributed $28 million to the Minnesota School Trust Fund – $33.57 for every student in the state – in 2016.

To learn more about this important aspect of school funding, state officials traveled to Northeast Minnesota for a two-day tour of different sites that contribute to the School Trust Land funds.

The first day brought the group to American Peat Technology in Aitkin and Kennecott Exploration in Tamarack and ended with a reception with iron mining officials at Giant’s Ridge in Biwabik. The second day of the tour included stops at U.S. Steel’s Minntac facility in Mt. Iron and the DNR Drill Core Library in Hibbing.

Minnesota’s iron mining industry was proud to be part of this important tour, Johnson said.

“This is a great way to discuss the many ways the iron mining industry impacts the entire state beyond mining the iron that makes the steel that makes the things we use every day,” she said. “The mines provide great jobs, support students statewide, and reinvest in our communities at home via the IRRRB.”