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A haul truck carries a load of taconite ore weighing more than 240 tons in the Thunderbird Mine of United Taconite on Thursday afternoon. (Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com)

Cliffs explains why Highway 53 must move to make way for mine

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VIRGINIA — Deep in the bowels of the Thunderbird Mine a giant hydraulic shovel tears away at a pile of rich taconite iron ore that had been blasted off the mine wall.

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Each shovel load holds nearly 50 tons, and the shovel drops five scoops each into massive haul trucks that pull away with 240 tons of ore headed eventually for the United Taconite pellet plant down the road in Forbes.

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