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VIRGINIA — Iron Range Historian Harry Lamppa sits in a room at the Virginia Area Historical Society, surrounded by boxes stuffed with papers and documents, timeworn photos, and yellowed newspaper clippings.

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HINCKLEY — On a fall day at the beginning of October, Aurora Mayor Dave Lislegard traveled south to Hinckley for a tour of the Local 49 Training Center with an old friend, Jason George.

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What started as acknowledgement of the importance of our forested areas to our developing nation became a push for wilderness to stop all development. Three main road corridors – the Echo Trail, Fernberg Trail and Gunflint Trail were developed that opened up the area to recreational opportunities. This was after the area had been logged off by Swallow and Hopkins lumber company.

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VIRGINIA — Perhaps you've noticed the huge yellow production truck boxes lined up off the north side of Highway 53 near the new bridge between Eveleth and Virginia.

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HIBBING — It’s hard to tell from the bottom of the Susquehanna if there’s been much — if any – action on top of the massive stockpile. And given the big lock on the gate, it’s not accessible.

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In the last few years, our business has worked on exploration projects and mine sites in approximately 25 different states. Alaska to Hawaii, California to New York, our trucks and equipment have touched many parts of this country. We have drilled for Gold, Silver, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Lithium, Niobium, Molybdenum, Nickel, Titanium, Scandium, Platinum, Palladium, Cobalt, Uranium, and other metals that I cannot remember, spell, or pronounce–but that is okay because I am not a geologist. Through all of our adventures, there are two constant elements, at least for me, no matter where we work in this country that hold true:

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On October 8, Clearwater Biologic, LLC—a company developed to economically remove sulfates from mining-affected waters in Northern Minnesota—was awarded $10,000 for being the best 2018 start-up company in Greater Minnesota. The award was presented by the Minnesota Department of Education and Economic Development at the MN Cup final awards ceremony at the Carlson School of Business and Management on the Minneapolis U of M campus.

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“They poured the sweat from their brows and the love from their souls to support their families. And they love their country. “

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DULUTH — President Donald Trump flew into Duluth on June 20 amid a firestorm over an immigration policy, but in the Amsoil Arena that night, he found a cathartic release in the thousands of supporters crowding the stage for his rally.

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DULUTH — President Trump brought his “America First” brand of politics with him to Duluth, where the iron mining industry found the friend it expected when he was elected into office a year and a half ago.

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The Iron Mining Association of Minnesota remains troubled by Governor Dayton’s veto of the second piece of wild rice legislation that came to his desk at the end of the 2018 legislative session. The veto was truly a disappointment to the numerous advocates who tirelessly worked to deliver the Governor a bill that would provide clarity on the state’s wild rice water quality standard that has been a point of contention for nearly a decade. The vetoed bill represented an effort to find common ground between stakeholders by developing a task force to look at wild rice science that has been fervently debated. It would have also provided assurances for regulated entities that cost-effective treatment technology must be available before they are required to expend funds for sulfate treatment. Industrial businesses and communities remain in limbo, uncertain about the exponential costs that would be unavoidable if the current standard is enforced.

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HIBBING — Customer service is the name of the game for Barr Engineering, an engineering and consulting firm with strong ties to Minnesota including an extremely successful branch in Hibbing.

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HIBBING — Iracore International, Inc., has been producing quality pipe lining systems for more than 50 years.

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HIBBING — With new building specs on one desk, plastic over the office’s windows and the occasional buzz of large machinery echoing in the adjacent warehouse, the sibling leaders of L&M Radiator can’t escape moment of construction these days.

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MOUNTAIN IRON — Motion Industries in Mountain Iron has a long and storied history in the area and offers a wealth of experience for their clients including several area mines.

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HIBBING — Within a small, fenced field a few blocks from the Hull-Rust, the world’s largest open pit mine, 812 tons of rock from the Duluth Complex near Babbitt is under study by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Division of Lands & Minerals researchers.

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EVELETH — Two United Steelworkers conferences aimed at setting the direction for this summer’s labor contract negotiations between steelworkers, mining and steel companies, are underway in Pittsburgh.

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SOUDAN — “If you haven’t been [to the Soudan Underground Mine] it is one of the three or four drop-to-your-knees outstanding experiences you can have at a state park,” said Erika Rivers, director of State Parks and Trails at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

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As the developments surrounding the Mesabi Metallics Nashwauk Project have unfolded in the media we watch as millionaire battles millionaire for the buried treasure north of Nashwauk. We open the paper to read of midnight no-trespassing sign installation and the scuffle that ensues.

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CHISHOLM — Construction of a new tourist attraction dedicated to the thousands of immigrant miners and their descendants who played a role in developing the Mesabi Iron Range is about to get underway.

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CHISHOLM — With a toothpick in her right hand, the young Girl Scout had a tight grip on a Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookie in her left hand.

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VIRGINIA — On an everyday drive along the new Highway 53 route through Virginia, the large load trucks can be spotted climbing almost an arm’s length from the road’s outer barrier.

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AURORA — Headlines seen in the Mesabi Daily News over the years, dating back about two decades, document the sometimes-turbulent progress of PolyMet. As early up and downs of the NorthMet project mirrored the cyclical mining industry, few thought it would take this long to get to this point.

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HIBBING — Ask Andrew Hanegmon what Iron Range Makerspace (IRM) is, and he’ll tell you it’s a hub for creativity — a place where bright, forward-thinking people come together to reshape the world.

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EVELETH — The Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation's first investment in minerals development was small.

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EVELETH — It's the last negotiations for John Rebrovich.

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EVELETH — In a cold environment, far from their homelands, strangers came together. They came together in the mines. They came together on the ice. The Iron Range became the hockey hub of North America.

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HIBBING — For more than 35 years L&L Rental in Hibbing has been one of the areas go to stops for all types of equipment rentals and sales.

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DULUTH — Not many enjoy celebrating turning four decades old, but those at GPM Inc. are cheering the achievement.

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The date on the yellowed Mesabi Daily News clipping is May 12, 1985, nearly 33 years ago. I had saved it, along with subsequent clippings telling of iron mining news, both good and bad, collected through my 30-plus years at the newspaper, and they tell of the highs and lows of the Mesabi Iron Range.

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DULUTH — Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) are working on five pilot projects intended to demonstrate promising technologies to enhance the state’s minerals industry. In 2017, the state legislature appropriated $2.6 million in funding to support this research.

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The birth of the Iron Range happened long ago. Forged in the fire of volcanic eruption and tectonic shifts, the geologic beginnings of the Iron Range were just about as cataclysmic as the beginnings of its labor movement.

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I learned a lot when I first started ricing. My first revelation was the sheer abundance of the resource in good years: One flowage was so covered with rice it looked like a lush green hayfield. The rice was ripe, and native and non-native ricers alike crisscrossed the dense stands. My mentor kneeled, ricing sticks in hand, while I poled our aluminum canoe.

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The simple truth is, if it doesn’t come from Mother Earth, it probably doesn’t exist. If we as Americans want to enjoy the benefits of food, agriculture, technology and mineral extractions, we have a profound moral and ethical obligation to pursue them here in America with good paying jobs and the best safety and environmental protections in the world. The morally questionable alternative is to extract these resources from third-world countries with little or no environmental standards and unparalleled human exploitation.