Iron mining is not as prevalent as it once was, with many iron mines becoming tourist attractions with guided tours and souvenir purchasing. One of the greatest iron mines was located on the Mesabi Range, which is land rich in iron ore. This location is in the northeastern part of Minnesota. This is a narrow band of approximately a hundred and thirty miles leading from the area of Grand Rapids, Minnesota which is northeast to south of Ely, Virginia, and Hibbing, the biggest cities in this range. Other major mining centers are Chisholm, Mountain Iron, Keewatin, Hoyt Lakes, Babbit, and Eveleth.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, the Minnesota section of the Superior Upland region was explored in order to discover some new sources of iron. In 1890, Wilbur Meritt and others had discovered a large supply of iron ore. In four years, the Mesabi Range grew into the largest of the six Lake Superior districts Iron ranges. Production of iron ore had reached 13 million metric tons yearly. This production outstripped the total output of all the other mines combined.
In the mid-twentieth century, reserves of the high grade ore were depleting and miners started producing taconite which is a lower grade iron ore. This taconite is brought from the open-pit mining and then concentrated into iron pellets at the processing plants that are on the range. Thus, the range was able to stay well in the competition with other mines.
Unfortunately, the iron mine industry is not at advantage lately. Although there are iron mines all over the world, most of them are also facing the same downturn as the United States. With the demand for iron ore decreasing and the production costs increasing, iron mines are not working as profitable as they once were in the United States. As a matter of fact, China has taken the lead in mining for iron ore. Since the Chinese steel production is increasing, China holds the greatest influence over the trade in iron ore. China has high quality ore and that is wanted by the world for its needs. The United States may need a boost for its iron mining.
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