Every year, Minnesota’s taconite mining
industry generates over 125 million tons of mining byproducts, a figure that is more than double the entire state’s annual
aggregate usage. Since 2000, the Natural
Resources Research Institute (NRRI),
University of Minnesota, Duluth, has been
investigating how these vast quantities of
taconite mining byproducts can be used for
construction aggregate purposes on an
expanded basis. However, if taconite-based aggregate is to be competitive beyond the Mesabi Iron Range, cost-effective rail transport options will be needed, and rail-related economic and logistical barriers must be identified, quantified, and overcome. The reality is, lower value/higher volume commodities like
construction aggregates are often economically limited by their distance to
market, due to the cost of transportation.
Consequently, this study is focusing on
rail transport by reviewing/identifying
transportation networks, logistics,
equipment availability, costs, and potential difficulties associated with moving taconite aggregate through that network. Truck, barge, and Great Lakes shipping are also being addressed.
By identifying the key transportation and
market-related issues, this study will give potential end-users inside and outside Minnesota a better understanding of how taconite aggregate could be an important alternative to “conventional” aggregate sources. Likewise, taconite producers will have a better understanding of the relative ease or difficulty of marketing and/or moving various types of aggregate, and the potential economic benefit(s) thereof. By improving our understanding of what the supply, demand, and movement dynamics are (and how they interrelate), the prospect for expanded use of taconite aggregate will be enhanced - a development which will ultimately be important for both the economy and the environment, a dual benefit measurable in both a dollars (economic) and tons (resource conservation) sense. This Technical Summary Report describes project activities and progress through October of 2007.
October 2007 Progress Report To the Minerals Coordinating Committee; October 2007; Funded by: the Minerals Diversification Program of the Minnesota
Legislature, Administered by the Minerals Coordinating Committee (MCC), Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR),
Budget Number 187-6565 (MCC), Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota Duluth, 5013 Miller Trunk Highway, Duluth MN 55811-1442
Funded by: the Minerals Diversification Program of the Minnesota Legislature, Administered by the Minerals Coordinating Committee (MCC), Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota Duluth, 5013 Miller Trunk Highway, Duluth MN 55811-1442
Zanko, Lawrence M.
The Economics and Logistics of Transporting Taconite Mining and Processing Byproducts (Aggregate): Minnesota and Beyond.
University of Minnesota Duluth.
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