An Iron Ranger's view: Mining signs confuse, mislead Iron RangersMinnesota’s Mesabi Range features large deposits of iron ore and taconite. It also has rich deposits of copper, nickel, platinum and other precious metals (called strategic metals). There are plenty of organizations with an interest in the minerals on the Range, and they do a lot of promoting.
By: Joe Legueri, Duluth News Tribune
Minnesota’s Mesabi Range features large deposits of iron ore and taconite. It also has rich deposits of copper, nickel, platinum and other precious metals (called strategic metals). There are plenty of organizations with an interest in the minerals on the Range, and they do a lot of promoting.
For example, during April 2012, lawn signs (24 inches-by-18 inches) in great numbers began appearing on the Range. The signs were light blue with black letters. On one side were the words: “We Support Mining.” On the other side were the words: “Mining Supports Us.” There were no markings on the signs identifying who paid for them.
I spoke with dozens of people about the signs. Most speculated the signs were sponsored either by the companies interested in mining
copper/nickel or by the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board. Nobody, including me, even guessed that the signs were paid for by an organization named the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota.
The Iron Mining Association of Minnesota is located on Superior Street in Duluth. It has 170 members. The membership is made up of mining companies, businesses all across Minnesota and vendors interested in selling products to the mining companies. The mission of the Iron Mining Industry of Minnesota is to promote the iron ore industry. Thus the signs: “We Support Mining”/“Mining Supports Us.”
Since iron mining is the only kind of mining taking place on the Range right now, I thought it was OK that the Iron Mining Association used these signs for a promotional campaign.
I thought it was OK, that is, until the spring of 2013. At that time, some other lawn signs started to appear. Most of these signs were the same size as the Iron Mining Association’s signs, but these new signs were dark blue (almost black) with white letters. Both sides had the same words: “We Support Mining.” Again, there were no markings on the signs to identify who paid for them and their installation.
After some research, I discovered this second round of signs was paid for by an organization named Mining Minnesota. Mining Minnesota has a P.O. Box in Duluth. Its mission is to give Minnesotans the facts concerning the efforts to mine for copper, nickel and platinum currently being proposed in our state.
Whereas the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota promotes iron mining, Mining Minnesota promotes copper/
nickel mining. It is made up of more than 100 “friends of mining.” The “friends” are mainly businesses and vendors hoping to sell goods to the companies which may be mining copper/nickel in Minnesota. Other “friends” include two foreign mining companies interested in copper/nickel: PolyMet and Twin Metals.
Starting in spring 2013, the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota began placing trademarks on its signs. In many cases, without knowing where they came from, many people installed in their yards the signs that promoted iron mining. Others, thinking all the signs promoted iron mining, mistakenly installed the signs that promoted copper/
nickel mining, even though some of these people steadfastly are against copper/nickel mining. Some people, not knowing the facts, had both signs displayed.
What a mess.
I personally support the right of the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota and Mining Minnesota to sponsor and distribute lawn signs, but I do not support the use of those generic, unidentifiable signs that have tended to confuse and mislead many of us East Rangers.
I have been a Ranger all my life. For the past 100 years, members of my huge family have made a living by working in the iron mines and the taconite mines on the Mesabi Range. If I were to put a promotional sign in my yard, the words on it would be very specific: I Support Iron Mining.
Joseph Legueri of Gilbert is a writer, retired educator and lifelong Iron Range resident.