Iron Range board approves rebates for taconite plantsLawmakers offer tax money back to encourage reinvestment and jobs.
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune
The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitating Board today approved more than $9 million in taconite tax rebates to mining companies as part of a longstanding program to encourage reinvestment and improvements.
The program will give back nearly 15 cents per ton of taconite produced for projects that contribute to the long-term development of taconite operations — and long-term stable employment — if the company also invests its own money.
This year’s rebates will pay for part of an estimated $21 million in upgrades at six different mining operations.
Today the board approved:
The board also approved a rebate for upstart Magnetation, which produces iron concentrate recovered from waste dumps at long-idled natural ore-mining operations. Magnetation gets about $43,000 for a “ball mill addition” to its Keewatin production plant. The total project is estimated at $2.5 million.
U.S. Steel’s Keewatin Taconite plant received $1.1 million in rebates for more than $3 million in upgrades at the IRRRB’s October meeting.
The rebates awarded this year are based on taxes paid for 2011 production.
Taconite producing companies will pay nearly $2.47 for each of the 39.2 million tons produced this year, giving the state and local governments a whopping $96.6 million in production taxes paid in lieu of property taxes. That per-ton tax will go up about 4 cents per ton in 2013 if lawmakers don’t act to freeze it.
Despite some signs of trouble in 2013, including a shutdown and layoffs at part of NorthShore Mining’s operations, Minnesota’s taconite plants are on pace to produce slightly more of the concentrated iron ore in 2012 than they did the year before. The 39.2 million tons estimated for this year is up a bit from 39 million, according to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, and the highest production since 2005. Forecasts call for stable production in 2013, except at NorthShore.
Film rebate, civic projects approved
In other action today, the IRRRB board approved allocating up to $800,000 for rebates for expenses incurred by crews shooting feature films on the Iron Range. It’s hoped the incentive will encourage producers of two movies to shoot on the Range in 2013.
The board also approved more than $7 million in grants to local towns, cities and other civic projects across the Taconite Tax relief Area, also a portion of taconite taxes paid by mining companies.