Iron ore exports rose at an explosive pace in the third quarter, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, with all ore, slag and ash products bound for other countries rising 769 percent.

Between July and September Canada bought $88 million worth of Minnesota ore, slag and ash - up from $1 million during the same period last year - and Japan increased its quarterly purchases from $4 million to $48 million.

Nearly all products in the ore, slag and ash category are iron ore, DEED said.

Minnesota exports overall hit $5.4 billion in the third quarter, with Canada, Mexico and China the top buyers.

“Minnesota exports are having a strong 2017, with sales up 8 percent through the first nine months of the year,” DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy said in a news release. “That’s good news for the economy, because exports support an estimated 120,000 jobs in the state.”

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