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The last facility is Hibbing Taconite which operates a mine and plant between the cities of Hibbing and Chisholm.
On the Vermilion Range, between Soudan and Ely, lay the deepest veins of ore.
There, miners worked in deep underground mines, blasting the ore from volcanic bedrock.
Most of the world's iron ore, including that contained in northern Minnesota, was formed during the middle Precambrian period. This erosion released iron and silica into the waters of a new sea.
Marine algae living in this new sea raised the level of atmospheric oxygen.
The mined ore is then transported, primarily by the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway, to the ports of Two Harbors and Duluth.
At Duluth, trains of up to eighty 100-ton open cars are moved out on massive ore docks to be dumped into "lakers" of up to 60,000 tons weight for movement to steel mills in Indiana and Ohio.
For instance, the Virginia Pilot is a project which focuses on redeveloping the grounds adjacent to the old mines into low- to moderate-income residential space.
The Hill-Annex Mine is now a state park and offers tours to visitors who wish to learn about mine operations. Currently, there are six mining-processing facilities in operation on the Iron Range.
Extraction operations declined throughout the mid-1970s but rebounded in 2005.