Hibbing taconite facility required to seek out innovative dust control technologies

Contact: Anne Perry Moore, 218-302-6605

Duluth, Minn. ― The Hibbing Taconite Company must investigate emerging, or innovative, dust control technologies as part of a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) air quality enforcement agreement, the agency announced today.

The company violated its state air quality permit five times for dust emissions between November 2013 and April 2015 at its Hibbing, Minn. taconite production facility. It was also cited three times between July 2013 and January 2015 for monitoring equipment and emissions violations.

As a result, the company has agreed to pay a $23,000 penalty to the MPCA. It is also required to update its dust control plan and investigate new dust control technologies and best management practices at other taconite facilities. It has already met its final requirement of retraining staff to ensure equipment monitoring compliance in the future.

Hibbing Taconite’s production facility includes a tailings basin where the company deposits tailings from taconite pellet production. Dust from these tailings can become airborne and be deposited around the basin. State air quality rules and permits require facilities take steps to control avoidable amounts of dust emissions from becoming airborne from sources such as mining, roads, ore handling and stockpiles.

The stipulation agreement is one tool that the MPCA uses to achieve compliance with environmental laws.  When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it was a first time or repeat violation and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities.  The agency also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.

For more information, go to the MPCA's Mining webpage.