Minnesota Ranked as 4th Biggest Mining State in 2019

Many people in the Twin Cities are vaguely aware of the fact that Minnesota mines iron ore, but few understand the scale or importance of mining to the communities who develop our iron ore resources, or the important implications it has for our country.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Minerals Commodities Survey, Minnesota leapfrogged California to become the 4th largest mining state in the country, based on the value of minerals sold. The primary minerals mined were iron ore, lime, sand and gravel (construction), sand and gravel, (industrial), and crushed stone.

Minnesota improved one spot in the ranks compared to last year due to high iron ore prices, which increased from $93 per metric ton in 2018 to $112.15 per ton, an increase of 21 percent.

Between 75 and 85 percent of the iron ore produced in the United States comes from Minnesota, with much of the remainder coming from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This makes the Iron Range and important part of America’s national security infrastructure, much as it was during World War II.

Jobs in Minnesota’s iron mining industry are also some of the highest paying jobs in the state. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show 4,006 people worked in the mining industry in 2018, and that the average wages for mining jobs in St. Louis County were $98,954, which is more than twice the average wages for St. Louis County, and 5.85 times more than jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry.

The high wages paid by mining jobs amplify the economic impact of mining throughout the entire economy of the Iron Range. According to the Iron Mining Association’s website, in 2010, each iron mining job supported an additional 1.8 jobs in the greater economy through indirect and induced employment. Using this benchmark would result in iron mining supporting 11,216 jobs throughout northern Minnesota.

I’ll be writing more about the importance of iron mining in the upcoming edition of Thinking Minnesota. You won’t want to miss it.