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DULUTH—After 13 years, millions of dollars and a winding path through regulatory scrutiny, Minnesota's first-ever copper mine might be on the verge of its last-ever public hearings. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Pollution Control Agency will hold open-house and public input sessions Wednesday, Feb. 7, in Aurora and Thursday in Duluth on draft permits they have released for PolyMet Mining Corp.
EVELETH, Minn. — Lourenco Goncalves played up his company's contributions to the Iron Range during Cleveland-Cliffs' annual "state of the company" luncheon on Thursday, Feb. 1, but he also issued a warning: Minnesota needs to play ball with his team, or he may turn to Michigan for future production expansion. Goncalves told more than 100 vendors, suppliers and Iron Range civic leaders that he needs the highly-disputed iron ore near Nashwauk, Minn., for his operations at Hibbing Taconite, which could run out of iron ore within about seven years.
DULUTH—U.S. Steel is reporting fourth quarter 2017 earnings of $159 million, or 90 cents per share, a big improvement over a $105 million loss in the last quarter of 2016. The Pittsburgh-based company, which reported its quarterly and annual results after the stock market closed Wednesday, Jan. 31, said sales of steel were up 18 percent to $3.13 billion, reflecting a 3 percent increase in shipments and higher selling prices.
DULUTH, Minn. — Time is running out this winter for Lake Superior to ice over or even build enough ice to jig for lake trout off Duluth or walk to the sea caves near Bayfield. Lake Superior was only an estimated 14 percent ice-covered as of Wednesday, Jan. 31, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. The office uses temperature-sensing satellite data to estimate ice cover. A warmer, windy trend over the past two weeks has helped keep the big lake from forming more ice.
DULUTH — In yet another effort to untangle the mystery behind Minnesota's diminished moose population, renowned wolf researcher David Mech is reporting a stark correlation between wolf population levels and survival of moose calves. Mech was the lead author of a research paper published online this January in the journal Wildlife Society Bulletin that found rapidly increasing wolf numbers in Northeastern Minnesota from 2001 to 2009 coincided with the rapid demise of moose in the region — from nearly 9,000 moose in 2006 to fewer than 4,000 in recent winters.
GRAND MARAIS, Minn. — In a timber-framed building that smelled of freshly sawed wood and pine tar, Robb Rutledge and Pete Dulak were hammering brass rivets into their handmade Norse pram, a small rowboat of Scandinavian heritage. A wood stove crackled in the background, adding warmth to the brisk afternoon. A deepening fog shrouded the Lake Superior shoreline just outside the big windows.
ELY, Minn.—The U.S. Forest Service on Friday, Jan. 26, said it will not conduct the most-thorough level of environmental review of potential copper mining impacts on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeastern Minnesota and will instead conduct a less-stringent study. The Forest Service, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said it will conduct an environmental assessment of the potential impact of copper-nickel mining on the 1.1 million-acre, lake-studded wilderness.
DULUTH — Cleveland-Cliffs had a good year mining and selling Minnesota and Michigan iron ore in 2017, the company reported Thursday, Jan. 25, and should have an even better year in 2018. Cliffs nearly doubled net revenue, hitting $371 million in 2017. That's up from $199 million in 2016 as the company and industry continue to rise out of the global iron ore doldrums of 2015.
NASHWAUK, Minn. — Tom Clarke leaned forward in a squeaky office chair in a drafty construction-site trailer, pulled out his phone and touched an app that exposed a countdown clock that flashed 171 days, 6 hours, 36 minutes and 28 seconds. "That's how much time we have to get this moving. I show it to everyone who is working on this project," Clarke said earlier this month. "But we're going to get there before that date."
DULUTH, Minn.—Some of the Lake Superior region's last herd of caribou got a free helicopter ride over the weekend as Ontario wildlife authorities rush to save at least some of the animals from certain death at the hands of wolves. Seven caribou, one male and six females, were tranquilized and taken aboard helicopters from Michipicoten Island on Lake Superior to the Slate Islands, according to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.