Remember the Titaniums
Minnesota may have the potential to become one of the largest titanium-producing areas in North America.
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota is home to 13 known deposits of a titanium-rich mineral called ilimiite, the most important ore of titanium.
One of these deposits, the Longnose deposit, is the largest and richest ilmenite deposit in North America, with more than 100 million tons of ore confirmed under a 160-acre site.
Geologists have known about these deposits for a long time, but developing these resources was not economical because there were too many impurities associated with the ilminite to produce suitable titanium products.
However, the Natural Resources Research Institute, a division of the University of Minnesota, Duluth, conducted a pilot study on a new benefaction method to remove these impurities. The result was the creation of a titanium concentrate with a purity of 99.8 percent.
This new technology has the chance to be an economic boon for Minnesota because titanium dioxide traded for approximately $3,200/ton in 2017, whereas a ton of refined taconite traded for around $70/ton.
Time will tell if titanium processing becomes a large industry in Minnesota, but policymakers should embrace the chance to foster new industries in the state.
The public school system owns 3.5 million acres of mineral rights, from which it receives mineral royalties.
Maybe Governor Dayton would not have to worry about school budget shortfalls if he were more open to mining.