Local/state briefs

US Steel upgrading MN mill to produce specialty pellets

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — U.S. Steel plans to spend $150 million to upgrade one of its two Minnesota mines to produce a new kind of iron ore feedstock now used in the majority of the nation’s steel mills.

The specialty “DR-grade” pellets are used to make a purer form of iron that is used to feed smaller steel mills, known as electric arc furnaces. The so-called “mini mills” now produce more than 70% of the steel in the U.S. Most of the iron ore produced in Minnesota still goes to the big blast furnaces around the Great Lakes.

With regulatory permitting, U.S. Steel would begin the upgrade this fall, either at Minntac, the state’s largest iron ore mine and pellet plant in Mountain Iron, or at Keetac, a smaller facility in Keewatin, Minnesota Public Radio News reports.

United Steelworkers spokesman John Argobast said U.S. Steel’s announcement is one of the biggest developments in Minnesota’s iron ore industry in decades.

“It makes Minnesota ore even more viable going into the future as steel-making in this country is moving towards electric arc furnaces,” Arbogast said. “So this makes Minnesota ore more sustainable into the future. We’re ecstatic to say the least.”

Still, Gov. Tim Walz said the upgrade is expected to create a significant number of full-time and construction jobs.

Walz campaign clarifies remark on Supreme Court retirements

ST. PAUL (AP) — Democratic Gov. Tim Walz’s campaign on Wednesday clarified remarks he made on abortion a day earlier, acknowledging that only one Minnesota Supreme Court justice will hit the mandatory retirement age in the next gubernatorial term, not three.

Walz made the comment after telling reporters, “The governor’s office is now the last line of defense against an abortion ban in Minnesota.” Walz was contrasting his position with that of Republican challenger Scott Jensen, who has called for a ban.

But Walz campaign spokesman Darwin Forsyth said the governor misspoke, and meant to say only that he thinks three retirements are “probable” in the next term.

G. Barry Anderson is the only justice who will hit the mandatory retirement age in the next four years. Forsyth said he didn’t know if the governor expected any other specific justices to retire.

Minnesota Supreme Court justices typically time their retirements to allow governors to appoint their successors, then face the voters periodically. The only two justices on the November ballot are running unopposed.

Five of the current seven justices were appointed by Democratic governors. Five of the current seven justices were appointed by Democratic governors. The future composition of the court matters because while abortion remains legal in Minnesota under a 1995 state Supreme Court decision, a future court could play a role in changing that.

South Dakota interim AG dismisses 2 of Ravnsborg’s top aides

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota’s interim attorney general on his first day in office Tuesday dismissed two of former Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s top appointees who were involved in the aftermath of Ravnsborg’s 2020 fatal car crash.

Ravnsborg was removed from office last week after the Senate convicted him on impeachment charges for his conduct surrounding the crash. Gov. Kristi Noem appointed the lead prosecutor in the Senate impeachment trial, Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo, as interim attorney general.

Vargo quickly dismissed Ravnsborg’s chief of staff, Tim Bormann, and the Director of the Division of Criminal Investigation, David Natvig, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported.


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