A new study finds that 34 percent of northeast Minnesota's economic activity comes from iron mining. The study, by the University of Minnesota-Duluth's Bureau of Business and Economic Research, looked at mining's influence in seven Minnesota counties and one in Wisconsin.
Frank Ongaro, spokesman for the trade group, Mining Minnesota, said new copper nickel mines will add to the industry's regional importance.
"The non-ferrous projects currently being planned have the potential to help create $2.29 billion to the state's economy, and 5,600 jobs," Ongaro said. "That's significant."
The study, based on 2007 data, puts iron mining well ahead of other leading industries in the area such as tourism and forestry. The mining industry has contracted since then because of the global economic downturn.
"We are as dependent in this region on mining as we were 20, 40, 60 years ago," Ongaro said. "And that's not a bad thing."
The study was commissioned by organizations including Mining Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.