Mining Companies Push to Meet 2012 Steel Demands

By KBJR News 1

January 5, 2012 Updated Jan 5, 2012 at 11:24 PM CDT

Northland's NewsCenter)---Industrial reports show the auto industry was the strongest segment of the manufacturing economy last month.

Mining companies in the Northeastern region are moving full speed ahead to meet production demands for iron ore and steel in 2012.

What Americans are driving is also driving up steel production.

"The automotive industry is up probably about 14 percent from last year," Craig Pagel, President of the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota said. "As the steel companies go, so do the iron mines."

The increased demand for steel is good news for mining companies.

"Twenty-four percent of the steel industry's customers is the auto industry," Pagel said. "The iron ore in northeastern Minnesota makes up 75 percent of the first pour steel in the United States."

To meet the demand for steel, mining companies are planning to go full speed ahead throughout 2012 to increase taconite iron ore production.

"Basically every single one of them said, that they will probably try to produce more than what they did in 2011," Pagel said. "So, 2012 looks good for iron ore production."

Meanwhile, new mining based ventures are sprouting across the region.

Essar Steel is working toward becoming the first finished steel producing operation on the Iron Range.

ESML recently met international certification standards proving its site to be a leading iron ore resource in the North American Basin.

"A number just short of 1.8 billion tons measured and indicated in resources," Ted Anderson, Manager of Mining and Crushing said. "Of which, about 95 percent are proven and probable reserves."

"So it gives us the opportunity to go ahead and start looking into the future and say what else can we do," Steve Rutherford, Project Director said.

ESML is in the final stages of obtaining permits to increase production from 4.1 million tons of pellets per year to 7 million tons per year.

Posted to the web: Jennifer Walch