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August 29, 2002
  Contact: Heather Layman
(202) 746-9644
Julie Cram
(202) 482-3809


Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Grant Aldonas visited the Minnesota Iron Range today to get a first-hand look at new processing operations for iron ore. Several other government officials accompanied Aldonas on the trip, including David Bearden, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Chief Operating Officer for Economic Development.

In his first stop today, Aldonas visited U.S. Steel's Minntac mine at Mountain Iron to witness the processing of Minnesota taconite ore into iron pellets, as well as see the equipment used in that process. Mine managers then described efforts to improve the finished product and lower production costs. Aldonas continued on to Coleraine Minerals Research Laboratory, where he saw new technology and recognized its ability to improve the long-term competitiveness of the industry. Currently, the Laboratory is conducting research on the secondary processing of iron ore in order to increase the iron content of the ore from 45 percent to 97 percent for electric steelmaking furnaces.

"As a Minnesota native, I am especially proud of the innovation of the steel industry in my home state. I am impressed by the commitment of the workers in the industry to raise productivity and compete globally. It was most helpful to study the issues and projects at the local level that could help the industry. The Bush Administration is committed to helping the U.S. steel industry restructure and become more globally competitive. We are also leading the international community in an effort to reduce worldwide overcapacity in the steel market, which is at the root of the problems plaguing the U.S. steel industry."

In his trip to Minnesota this week, Aldonas is meeting with steel producers and consumers. Later this week, he will be in Minneapolis to talk to leaders in the trade industry and recognize a Minneapolis business for significant export achievement.


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