Northland Woman Finds New Life For Waste Rock

By KBJR News 1

August 4, 2011 Updated Aug 4, 2011 at 8:57 AM CDT

HOYT LAKES (Northland's NewsCenter)---Multi-ton boulders from the old LTV Mine in Hoyt Lakes on the Iron Range are being put to good use across the Northland.

At age 55, Kim Snell never dreamed she'd be able to turn her dream into reality.

"Right now when you're looking at this stuff here, you're seeing the black rock, but when you get up close to it, there's quartz, there's hematite," Snell said. "When you get up and see the colors, there's greens and burgundy and reds."

Where many saw waste rock from the mining process, Snell saw beauty and utility.

She created her company Stone by Design and leased 38 acres of land in the middle of the old LTV taconite mine.

There she harvests rocks of all sizes and markets them for a number of very different projects.

Over the past five weeks Stone by Design has provided boulders, each weighing nearly nine tons to the Port Wing Safe Harbor Project in Wisconsin.

"It's a perfect scenario to get rid of the waste rock," Brad Gerlach, a consultant said. "And the state gets their money for it, it takes a large boulder off the property that would almost probably never be sold, never be purchased, by let's say, a consumer."

If a stone meets proper weight and size requirements, contractors remove the stone from the quarried area and line them up to be loaded onto on a semi. If a stone does not me requirements, it is put into a reject pile.

But those rejected rocks have other uses for Snell. Some of the boulders she harvested from her land were used in the Wade Safe Harbor project in Duluth, and others, when cracked open, provided beautiful quartz for the bar tops in the Bulldog Lounge at Amsoil Arena.

Once the Safe Harbor project is completed, Snell plans to focus on using the rocks for yard, garden and home sculpture.

"This is God's pallet, and we get to paint it with the rock," Snell said. "As a Master Gardener, I actually can see how things come together with the color and the stone and the beauty and how it can be applied."

Snell says 90 percent of the taconite rocks she harvests go to distributors in the Twin Cities area.

Posted to the web: Jennifer Walch