Now the mines are back in full swing with production booming.
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar toured Hibbing Taconite today to see just how well things have been going.
There's no doubt about the massive difference between this years Iron Ore shipping season...and last year.
"It was the worst year for shipping iron ore out of the Twin Ports of Duluth, Superior since the 1960s," said Adolph Ojard with Duluth Seaport Authority.
But the boats were out in droves this season, as mines on the Iron Range are back up and running and production is booming.
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar has family ties to the mining industry, and stopped by Hibbing Taconite Friday morning to see how things are going.
"My dad worked for a few summers in the mine but mostly that's what my grandpa did his whole life, and he worked 15 hundred feet underground. He'd always be saving money in a coffee can to help out my dad," said Senator Klobuchar.
On her tour, Senator Klobuchar met with union and company officials.
Klobuchar says while production is going well, so is the hiring.
"They are hiring new employees; they are bringing in a lot of younger workers now, we see some people retiring. It's what we want to see: new jobs for this area," said Klobuchar.
At the height of the recession Hibbing Taconite employed less than one hundred employees; now their back at full production and employ 680.
Klobuchar says community colleges offering specific training to the next workforce generation are a large part of the success of the mines.
"I just met a young guy that was trained in and he was so excited he just went to work here about a month ago. That's what we like to see; people with young families, people that are just out of college, people who have been trained specifically to work in this area," said Klobuchar.
And with a high demand for iron world wide Klobuchar says it's important, now more than ever, to keep the Iron Range at high production.
"If you look at how we are going to get out of this recession a lot of it has to do with building, and moving forward and having confidence with our own country, and we have the raw material right here on the Iron Range," said Klobuchar.
HibTac is owned primarily by Mittal Steel, along with Cliffs Mining Company and U.S. Steel.