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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook 1990
Year 1990, Volume 2 (1990)

Aase, James H.
Minnesota,   pp. [270]-281 PDF (1.4 MB)


Page 272

272  MINNESOTA—icadditional $30 million renovating the Silver Bay
processing
plant and repairing mining equipment and the 47-mile railroad linking the
Babbitt Mine and the Silver Bay plant. 
EMPLOYMENT 
Employment in the State's mining industry averaged 8,200 workers during the
year, an increase of 6.5 % compared with the 1989 work force. The metal mining
sector accounted for 6,400 of these workers, an 8.5 % increase in number
compared with that of 1989. The average hourly wage for all mine workers
was $14.40, a 5 % increase over that of the previous year. Metal mine workers
had average hourly wages of $14.96, a 6 % increase. The average number of
hours worked per week was reported at 43.8 hours for aliworkers and 43.5
hours for those in metal mining.2 
In 1990, two fatalities occurred at surface mining operations in the State.
During the 7.5 million employee-hours worked at surface mining operations
during the year, there were 182 injuries resulting in lost workdays and 78
injuries with no workdays lost. At mills and preparation plants associated
with surface mining operations, a reported 169 injuries occurred to workers
resulting in lost workdays and 75 injuries occurred with no lost workdays.
A total of 6.7 million employee-hours was worked at the mills and plants
during the year.3 
REGULATORY ISSUES 
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) levied a fme on Eveleth Taconite
Co. for violating State hazardous waste rules. Specifically, the company
was found to have accumulated a large quantity of potentially hazardous waste
on-site at its taconite operation. As a result of facility maintenance and
iron ore testing, the company generated waste petroleum naphtha, polychlorinated
biphenyl (PCB) waste, solvent and paint waste, corrosive laboratory waste,
and large quantities of grease and oil. In addition to the fine, the company
was required by MPCA to implement a 
hazardous waste management plan that outlines steps to prevent similar violations
in the future. The plan also must document hazardous waste training for pertinent
employees, include a hazardous waste shipping schedule, designate exact locations
of on-site hazardous waste storage, and describe how the company intends
to manage properly waste oils and greases. The company also was required
to submit a remedial action plan for investigation, excavation, and disposal
of contaminated soil. 
EXPLORATION ACTIVITIES 
 The slowdown in exploration for base and precious metals was evident in
Minnesota in 1990. The acreage of Stateowned mineral rights under lease for
nonferrous metals decreased. The State did, however, issue 84 new metallic
mineral leases during the year covering 33 ,299 acres. An additional 12 leases
covering 5,023 acres from an October 1990 lease sale was to be issued after
yearend. By the end of 1990, the State had a total of 93,540 acres of mineral
rights covered in 257 leases held by 27 lessees. Additionally, the State
had 117 iron ore and taconite leases held by seven lessees.4 
 The search for nonferrous base and precious metals was confmed primarily
to the ancient greenstone terrains of the northern part of the State. This
accounted for 24,473 feet ofdrilling in 51 drill holes.5 
 Iron ore expansion drilling in St. Louis and Itasca Counties amounted to
3,988 feet in 33 drill holes.6 
 In the central Minnesota River Valley region, 56 drill holes totaling 5,705
feet of drilling was conducted to evaluate kaolin clay resources. The clay
material was being evaluated in an effort to meet the needs of the regional
paper industry.7 
 A total of 140 exploration holes amounting to 34, 168 feet were drilled
during 1990 in Minnesota. The holes were drilled in 1 1 counties by 13 companies.
The samples and data were to be turned over to the Department of Natural
Resources (DNR) upon 
termination of the lease, as provided by State law.8 
LEGISLATION AND 
GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS 
During the 1990 session of the 
Minnesota Legislature, a bill was enacted into law that was of particular
interest to the State's iron ore industry. The legislation, Omnibus Tax Bill--Chapter
604, froze for 1 year the production tax rate for iron ore and taconite concentrates
produced in 1990. Additionally, for tax law purposes, the definition of real
property was amended to include iron ore and taconite minerals not otherwise
exempt, and to exclude mine shafts, tunnels, and other underground openings
to extract ores and minerals. It also provided for a deduction of certain
reclamation costs from the net proceeds tax. The bill added all clays to
the list of minerals excluded from the net proceeds tax on mining. 
In an attempt to stimulate additional mineral development in Minnesota, the
State's legislature established a Minerals Coordinating Committee (MCC).
The committee was composed of personnel from the DNR's Division of Minerals,
Minnesota Geological Survey (MGS), the Natural Resources Research Institute,
and the Mineral Resources Research Center. Among the MCC-sponsored projects
were the following: 
1. Bedrock mapping and drilling of key mineral potential areas as a followup
to recently completed aeromagnetic surveys conducted by MGS. Evaluation of
the mineral potential of selected areas using geochemistry of the glacial
drift through overburdened drilling continued. 
2. The platinum-group mineral potential of the Basal Zone of the Duluth Complex
and the base and precious-metal potential of Archean greenstone were studied
through sampling and analysis of dril core in the Hibbing DNR Drill Core
Repository. 
3 . A seminar was organized and the proceedings published on the applicatior
of recent concepts of ore deposit modeL 


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