Mining job fair in Chisholm as demand grows

The mining industry is holding a job fair on the Iron Range on Friday as mining employment in northeast Minnesota is growing.

Employment in the industry has grown by about 25 percent over the past two years, to around 4,500 jobs. Many companies are adding positions as the demand for taconite remains strong. And several copper nickel mines are looking to open in the next several years.

Companies are also looking to replace retiring workers.

Charlotte Hanegmon, a workforce development specialist at the Minnesota Workforce Center in Hibbing, said companies are mostly looking to hire people with at least a two-year college degree.

"Whether we're talking an engineer or equipment operator," Hanegmon said, "really what they're looking for is someone who has enough skills that they can do troubleshooting and problem solving."

Hanegmon said that at some plants, nearly half the workforce is eligible to retire.

"In the mid to late '70s, when the mines were booming, they hired so many people that made careers out of the work," she said. "And those people are in excess of 30 years and eligible for retirement."

Hanegmon said that because the workforce on the Iron Range is older, companies will need to attract workers from outside the region.

Seventeen companies planned to participate in the job fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm.

• Follow Dan Kraker on Twitter: http://twitter.com/dankraker

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