Minnesota Mining Disasters

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Location: State of Minnesotamap
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Minnesota Mining

Native Americans used rock and mineral resources long before mining was initiated in Minnesota.[1] They created pottery, knives, spears, and paint from the available resources.[1] The military used limestone to build Fort Snelling in Minnesota, but it wasn't until 1868 that the first granite quarry was opened.[1] By then, gold rush miners had flocked to the area.[1] While unsuccessfully looking for gold it was discovered that the ground was rich in iron.[1][2] The mines attracted immigrants from around the globe.[1] By 2018 up to 44 million tons of ore were mined from the Mesabi Iron Range yearly.[2]

In modern times, resources such as copper-nickel have been found as an additional asset to the state.[3] Although less than one percent of Minnesota's economy is made up of mining proceeds; it is common to find signs around the state saying "We Support Mining."[2] In 2018 Minnesota was the fifth-largest state for mining in terms of the value of the minerals sold.[4] In 2018 mines in both Minnesota and Michigan shipped 98% of the usable iron ore products in the United States.[4]

Iron Mining

  • While Minnesota is the largest producer of iron ore in the United States, most of the high-grade ore has already been mined.[5] Now, a lower grade called taconite is mined, crushed, processed into pellets, and then shipped to steel mills.[5] In 1996 about 44 million tons of taconite pellets were shipped from Minnesota.[5] The original ranges that iron was mined from were Cuyuna, Mesabi and Vermilion.[5] Now only the Mesabi Range produces taconite.[5]

Alternate Resources

  • Other less common resources mined in Minnesota are contributors to the states economy.[5]
    • Clay is used for bricks, porcelain, tiles and medicine and is mined in the Minnesota River Valley.
    • Silica Sand is very fine sand composed of quartz and is mined in the southeastern part of Minnesota. It is used to make glass and used in oil drilling.[4]
    • Granite and Limestone are used for home construction, buildings, roads and tombstones.
    • Peat, a plant material, is used in the gardening industry and for absorbing oil and fuel
    • Minerals such as manganese, copper, nickel, and titanium are present but not in high enough quality to mine profitably. Though copper and nickel have not been found with a higher quality, 44% of Minnesota residents favored building copper-nickel mines in 2018 after considering the effect on jobs and the states economy.[6] Michigan produced approximately 19,000 tons of nickel in 2018, which was exported.[4] The first nickel mine in Minnesota was expected to open in 2020.[4] Exploration continues for good sources of gold, platinum, diamonds, zinc, and lead.

Mining Disasters

Minnesota Mining Disasters
Date Mine Location Deaths Space Done Profiles Done
5 Feb 1924 Milford Crosby, Minnesota 41
27 Jun 1918 Elivier Open Pit Virginia, Minnesota 18
11 Mar 1911 Norman Open Pit Virginia, Minnesota 14 Yes Yes


Genealogy Resources

  • The Minnesota Genealogical Society (MGS) has information about events in the state, such as conferences.
  • contains a database of births and christenings that cover 1840-1980 (Index only).
  • has a database for marriages covering 1958-2001 (Index only).
  • The Minnesota Historical Society has indexes of births, marriages, deaths, census records, and veterans graves (as well as some online collections). If you are looking for a vital record, the county offices will refer you here.
  • allows free access to the index for Minnesota, Indian Allotment Records, 1888-1919.
  • The Iron Range Research Center has a searchable database of naturalization records, census rolls, death cards, newspaper announcements, and alien registration records.

Mining Resources

  • has up-to-date information on how mining is effecting Minnesota. If you click on "View all news" you can access archived articles.
  • PolyMet Mining contains court decisions, information on the new copper-nickel mine, information about resources, and opportunities in the state.
  • The Minnesota Legislature has articles on mining in Minnesota, the history of mining in Minnesota, and links to other (non-mining) resources within the state.

Museums & Monuments


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Minnesota Mining History," Department of Natural Resources (DNR) (DNR.State.MN.US), viewed 22 February 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Mining is a small part of Minnesota’s economy..." Minn Post (, viewed 22 February 2020.
  3. New Survey Reaffirms Strong Support for Copper-Nickel Mining in Minnesota," Mining Minnesota (, viewed 22 February 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Orr, Isaac. "Minnesota Now Fifth-Largest Mining State, ..." Center of the American Experiment (, viewed 7 March 2020.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 "Mining in Minnesota" Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR.State.MN.US), viewed 7 March 2020.
  6. "New Survey Reaffirms Strong Support For Copper-Nickel Mining In Minnesota" (, viewed on 7 March 2020.

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