Mining in America

These pictures were taken at an abandoned iron mine, one of several such sites in a region that supplies over 70% of America’s iron ore. This particular pit produced some of the highest-grade magnetite ore in the world before it was shuttered in 1990, an early victim of LTV Steel’s (the original owner of the pit) eventual bankruptcy, along with an even larger mine a few miles from this one. Nearly two and a half miles long, it is now a lake (and a fun spot for snowmobiling in the winter); a grim reminder of America’s ongoing deindustrialization. Six other iron mines continue to operate in the region, but the U.S. steel industry has been in a malaise for a very long time, with no sign of a reprieve.

It’s not all bad, however. Within a few miles of this pit is one of the largest deposits of non-ferrous metals in the world, including copper, nickel, cobalt, platinum, palladium, gold, and silver. Half a dozen exploratory mining companies are operating in the area, and one is on the verge of breaking ground for a new mine. Should the ever-present environmental hurdles be cleared, this region will become a mining district of unsurpassed value and productivity. This pit might even be reopened, both for its iron and the more valuable metals that lie beneath it.

Satellite view of the site:

West edge of the pit, looking south:

West edge, looking northeast:

A moose, getting a drink along the eastern shore: