Tuesday, January 04, 2011 By Aaron Brown
Keewatin Taconite is getting green lights during the middle stages of its permitting process on opening a new production line, which would add 3.6 million tons of capacity. Essar Steel is still claiming principle production will begin on its new taconite mine on the west Range, the precursor to the long-awaited steel plant. Magnetation is aiming to expand its ore extraction from the west Range dumps of Itasca County.
In short, 2011 is hunky dory on the Iron Range, except of course that we'll shed public sector jobs and our schools are entering something close to a fiscal crisis. This will create something of a middling, treading water feel that will keep real growth from happening until the taconite industry stumbles again.
It is imperative that every level of government, the private sector and, particularly, people on the street consider these next five years of utmost importance for the diversification and expansion of the Iron Range's economic base. No, not the end of mining, the start of something else. The economic conditions in big cities or suburbs aren't that great either. Why not live and create in a place with heart, history and interesting weather?
There are those who say that the Iron Range doesn't want to change, doesn't want to invite new people here or accept new ideas. I invite those of that belief to defend your reasoning. The slow death of a region is nothing pretty to watch. I do not intend to participate in such an endeavor.