Northland's Very Own: Larry Lehtinen

By KBJR Manager

August 11, 2010 Updated Aug 11, 2010 at 11:37 AM CDT

He's played a significant role in the mining industry over the years on the Iron Range.

But his most recent venture is changing the industry... and extending the life of Northland mines.

Laura Langemo introduces us to the Northland's Very Own Larry Lehtinen.

For Larry Lehtinen, his passion has always lain beneath the ground on which he stands.

"I really liked the geology and that's what interested me in this end of the business."

That love of geology led him into a career in mining which has taken him across the country.

As he gained more experience, he grew into a successful leader in the field.

"Larry was always a guy that could get things done. When he puts his mind to it he works relentless on getting things accomplished."

Lehtinen proved this when he became general manager of the Empire Mine in Upper Michigan.

"That operation was ranked last in virtually every category when I got there and two years later we had the highest quality in productivity and lowest cost and best safety record in Cleveland Cliffs."

Lehtinen would fill many rolls in mining through his career... eventually finding his way to his current venture, Magnetation.

"The technology was something that interested me because it was the same kind of thing that I worked on as a young engineer at Minorca at the early part of my career."

This technology involves recovering iron left behind once a mine is abandoned... and ultimately turning it into steel.

Lehtinen says this process is a green solution to reusing and transforming a former wasteland.

"When we get done taking the iron out we have the opportunity to shape it into a functioning wetland."

Lehtinen says Magnetation's work will extent the economic longevity of the Mesabi Range for at least a century.

In Keewatin, Laura Langemo the Northlands NewsCenter.

Due to Magnetation's growing customer base, the company will be opening a second mine southeast of Taconite, Minnesota.

The mine will be triple the size of the Keewatin plant and is expected to create about 50 jobs.