State park to close to make way for mining operations in Minnesota

June 17, 2024

Hill Annex Mine State Park in Minnesota’s Iron Range will return to its roots and make way for potential new mining operations.

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) reported that the park, which has now closed, was located on the site of the Hill Annex Mine, produced 63 million tons of iron ore over 60 years. It closed in 1978. That made it the sixth-largest iron ore producer in the state.

After the mine closed, it became a tourist attraction operated by Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation. The site was transferred to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in 1991.

According to MPR, the 625-acre park operated on a lease on School Trust Lands. Those are parcels set aside for the specific purpose of providing a continual source of funding for public education.

Surface stockpiles and tailings basins left by the previous mining operations were also under lease — and the developer of those stockpiles applied to the DNR last year for a permit for “scram mining,” the mining of those stockpiles and tailing basins.

If the permit is approved, site preparation for renewed mining could begin later this year, with mining beginning in 2025.

Ann Pierce, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division, said the renewed mining would contribute to local economies and also to Minnesota’s public schools through state mineral lease rental and royalty payments.

Pierce said that when legislators created the state park in the 1980s, “there could be potential to go back and use some of the some of the materials that are still on that site. ... their foresight was

The DNR said it’s working with community partners on preserving artifacts from the park’s museum. When new mining operations are complete and mining leases are no longer in place, the agency said in a news release that the site “will be evaluated for potential future uses in collaboration with community partners.”

Hill Annex Mine is the second Minnesota state park to close this year.

In February, Upper Sioux Agency State Park near Granite Falls was closed as part of a previously announced plan to transfer the property to the nearby Upper Sioux Community. That transfer was made official in March.

Photo: Hill Annex Mine State Park was located in Calumet on Minnesota's Iron Range.
Courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources



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