Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook 1990
Year 1990, Volume 2 (1990)
Aase, James H.
Minnesota, pp. -281 PDF (1.4 MB)
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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