Minnesota examines taconite meso danger

12 Jun 2008 by under News

In its last legislative session, Minnesota approved $4.9 million for research into the epidemic among its Iron Range workers. To date, 58 people have died of . Governor Tim Pawlenty signed the bill, which funds a five-year study of the taconite mining industry and the mineral’s asbestos-like properties as a likely cause for the extremely high rate of among workers.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that researchers and politicians will meet today to discuss progress in establishing the study. According to the report, the University of Minnesota School of Public Health is assessing the health of active and retired miners, reviewing death certificates, and delving into the 58 deaths from mesothelioma. The Natural Resources Research Institute is analyzing iron ore samples and dust in the air in Iron Range communities, to see how closely they match asbestos dust, says MPR.

According to the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota web site, the industry’s six iron mining and processing operations produce two-thirds of the iron ore used to make steel in the United States. Combined, they represent a $4 billion capital investment and employ nearly 4,000 men and women. These companies contribute over $1.5 billion each year to the state’s economy in the form of purchases, wages and benefits, royalties and taxes.These companies contribute over $1.5 billion each year to the state’s economy in the form of purchases, wages and benefits, royalties and taxes.

Taconite is an extremely hard rock that contains about 25 percent iron, according to an IMA fact sheet. It is found on the Mesabi Range in northeastern Minnesota, which extends 110 miles in a southwesterly direction. After World War II, when natural high-quality iron ore deposits were beginning to be depleted, two companies began making major investments in taconite, and began producing pellets in 1956 and 1957, and a decade later taconite was in production in all of the area’s six mines.

To date, Minnesota mines have produced more than 1.2 billion tons of taconite pellets, IMA reports.

Information about taconite on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources web site says “taconite saved Minnesota’s iron ore mining industry.”

How heartbreaking that Minnesotans are only now finding out the cost.

3 Responses to “Minnesota examines taconite meso danger”

  1. Wendi Lewis

    Hi Moe,rnThank you for your feedback on this article. I am encouraged that Minnesota is taking a proactive approach in studying this situation. They are currently trying to determine if the Iron Range workers affected by mesothelioma could possibly have been exposed to asbestos, or if their illness could be the result of a combination of exposure to asbestos and taconite, or taconite alone. Taconite is the mineral mined in the Iron Range, and it is fibrous, like asbestos, which led to the concerns that it might be a cause for mesothelioma. I will keep you posted as the study moves forward.

  2. alex

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    Alex

    alex

    Nice thoughts…

    Good view…

    I like the way of expressions…

    Thanks,

    ===========

    Alex