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HIBBING — Explorers, engineers and geoscientists interested in mining search for records of the mineral deposits captured in bedrock.

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HIBBING — When Andrew Reed in 2007 was graduating from high school in Orr, students were under the impression that northeastern Minnesota’s taconite industry was on its last legs.

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The days have been numbered for the old Northland Office building in downtown Virginia for quite some time. Now entering the final stages of deconstruction, the offices that were once housed there have moved across the street to a brand-new, zero energy building. The Virginia Government Services Building, as it’s currently called, was built by St. Louis County. The design team was led by a group of architects, designers, engineers, construction workers, artists, employees and the St. Louis County Property Management Department all working collaboratively to create a new space to bring several county entities under one roof.

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IRON RANGE — If you surveyed the right population of America’s electorate, they might want to do to the political system what Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman did to some land at the United Taconite mine in Eveleth on a rainy September morning.

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Hibbing Taconite is scratching for ore anywhere it can.

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HOYT LAKES — Driving along the towering landscape, dotted with swans and animal tracks — moose or deer is the consensus of the truck — and sagging fall colors on this mid-October day, it’s hard to imagine a place can be fraught with both controversy and local hopes of economic vitality

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SILVER BAY — In August, Cleveland-Cliffs hosted a ribbon cutting event celebrating the completion of a $100 million expansion at Northshore Mining in Silver Bay. This expansion has allowed the plant to now produce more DR-grade pellets.

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In northeastern Minnesota, the 677 residents in Marble lay claim to an auto repair shop, bar, church, elementary school, library and post office. They live just west of the Hill-Annex Mine State Park that interprets how such whistlestop towns sprung up more than a century ago beside iron open-pit mining operations on the Mesabi Range. These places are part of a chain of small mining communities stretched east to west along Highway 169 between Hibbing and Grand Rapids.

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To the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel”: All around the Iron Range, the miners ate their pasties. They tasted good and stayed so hot, gulp went the pasties!

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IRON RANGE — The first Wednesday of every month, a group of local silver-haired activists known as the Steelworker Organization of Active Retirees — known simply as SOAR — gets together for donuts, coffee and to dish on politics.

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With a resume that already included union miner, laid-off union miner, community organizer, president or board member of the Laurentian Chamber of Commerce, Jobs for Minnesotans and the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools, city councilor and mayor of Aurora, Dave Lislegard was a natural fit for the House 6B seat.

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VIRGINIA — Ever since she was a school girl growing up in a North Shore town, Shirley Rintala Peterson — born Shirley Dolin in Two Harbors — has been a hard worker. Now 92, Peterson looks back nostalgically on the jobs she has had over the years.

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Northeast Minnesota is where mining, recreation, and stewardship of natural resources intersect in ways that define us as Minnesotans. In the same towns populated with heavy-equipment repair shops, hoist and rigging contractors, and other mining-related industries, you also see bait and tackle stores, outdoor adventure outfitters, and ski equipment suppliers.

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VIRGINIA — People drive by the rather little-known-to-the-public factory on West Chestnut Street all the time, never really realizing just what takes place inside the modest structure.

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CHISHOLM – Recorded in the pages of the 1950 Chisholm Arrow junior high yearbook from is a collection of writings about the mining industry.

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My dad sat on our back porch, book in hand, one recent June afternoon. The warm sun filtered through the evergreens that bordered our small yard. Dogs laid on either side of his lawn chair, dozing.

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ELY — For more than 60 years the Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital has been an important healthcare resource for the residents of Ely and its surrounding communities and for the thousands of visitors that converge on the area each year on their way to and from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

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Essar Steel Minnesota was heralded as the next big thing on the Iron Range. A pellet plant and a steel mill that would transform the industry in the region, along with its economy. Then financial problems hit the company — construction deadlines were missed, payments were late and the state came knocking on the door a little louder in 2016.

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Online or in the classroom, the University of Wisconsin-Superior has a path into the mining industry workforce for a number of different jobs — and just an ore boat’s length from the shores of Minnesota or from your desktop.

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HIBBING — Despite a long, successful history of playing matchmaker between job seekers and employers, staffing companies are among the most misunderstood industries in the modern job market.

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AngloGold Ashanti, the third largest gold mining company in the world, is pursuing plans to drill for the precious metal in northern Minnesota.

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In Minnesota, legislators are debating bills aimed at achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

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Scattered across the table outside Lory Fedo’s office at the Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce are mining magazines, “We Support Mining” signs, mining pamphlets and even a pink hard hat with a sticker that reads “Mining Supports Us.”

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HIBBING — For five weeks in January and February a small but dedicated staff of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources employees spent 12 hours a day, seven days a week, scanning about 16,000 feet of drill core in a high-tech mobile lab located out of sight, but in the heart of Hibbing.

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HIBBING – One of the most impressive collections of core samples anywhere in the country can be found in three unassuming buildings in Hibbing.

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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. “