Minn. predicts decline in 2009 taconite tonnage

United Taconite
This is a view of the United Taconite taconite mine at Eveleth. Much of the landscape surrounding Eveleth has been altered by decades of mining.
MPR Photo/Bob Kelleher

The Minnesota Department of Revenue is predicting taconite production on the Iron Range will hit a more than 20-year low this year.

Engineering specialist Bob Wagstrom of the department's Eveleth office sees pellet tonnage at 24 million tons for 2009, compared to 39.1 million tons produced in 2008.

That means production will drop by more than third, the result of falling demand due to the global economic slowdown.

He says the last time production was so low, it was 1986.

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The state collects a production tax from taconite producers in lieu of property taxes or royalties; it was worth nearly $90 million last year.

Some of the money pays for economic development projects on the Iron Range, some goes to local schools and governments.

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Information from: Mesabi Daily News, http://www.virginiamn.com

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)