St. Louis County Mine Inspector releases annual report

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 Administration • 100 North Fifth Avenue West, Room 202 • Duluth, MN 55802

Phone: (218) 726-2450 •

Kevin Z. Gray
County Administrator




April 23, 2019

MEDIA CONTACT: Derek Harbin, Mine Inspector



St. Louis County Mine Inspector annual report released

Mining activity in St. Louis County showed a slight increase in both total production and number of people directly employed in 2018. But perhaps even more notable - it was the safest year ever for employees in terms of injuries to workers. 


The 2018 annual report of the St. Louis County Mine Inspector includes the following statistics:

  • 40,986,054 total tons of taconite products shipped
  • 6 mines in operation
  • 3,954 total people employed
  • 8,415,781 total hours worked
  • 0 fatal accidents
  • 14 serious injuries resulting in lost time

During Tuesday's County Board meeting, St. Louis County Safety and Risk Management Director Joe Austin and Mine Inspector Derek Harbin gave a brief report to commissioners. They praised the work of all partners in the mining industry for their continued work to identify and eliminate potential safety risks in the mines


The annual report of the St. Louis County Inspector of Mines is both a snapshot of the present while also reflecting the rich mining history of the region. The report is required by state statute and has been produced every year for more than a century.


Included in the report is a year-by-year comparison. During the first years of the report, 1905-1910, an average of 73 people died in mining accidents in St. Louis County every year. By contrast, there have been no mining fatalities in the County since 2007; and the 14 recorded injuries is a tie for the second lowest number ever.


"The statistics have changed, but we're documenting some of the same things that have been reported for more than 100 years," said Austin.


By state statute the St. Louis County Mine Inspector is responsible for checking active mining properties at least once every 90 days, conduct any accident investigations as needed, and inspect the fencing around all 285 inactive mines at least annually. To learn more about the work of the mine inspector or to view the 2018 annual report, visit


Mine Inspector

The St. Louis County Board heard a presentation on the 2018 Inspector of Mines Annual Report. Shown L-R (kneeling) Commissioners Patrick Boyle and Keith Nelson, County Administrator Kevin Gray. (Standing) County Attorney Mark Rubin, Mine Inspector Derek Harbin, Commissioner Paul McDonald, Information Specialist Karen Matvey, Commissioner Mike Jugovich, Safety and Risk Management Director Joe Austin, Commissioner Beth Olson, and Auditor Nancy Nilsen. Not pictured is Assistant Mine Inspector David Hamalainen.