During 1993 - 2011, IRRRB has reinvested a total of $202,470,216 in the Minnesota taconite industry through the following programs: Taconite Economic Development Fund, Producer Grant Program, Taconite Assistance Program and special, one-time programs to stimulate environmentally unique reclamation projects for facility improvements.
In 1992, the Minnesota Legislature established the Taconite Economic Development Fund (TEDF) to encourage capital investments in northeast Minnesota taconite plants. From 1993 – 2011, the TEDF program has reinvested more the $150 million back into northeast Minnesota taconite plants for workforce development and associated public facility improvement; for acquisition of plant, mining equipment, and support facilities for the producer, or for research and development in Minnesota on new mining, or taconite, iron, or steel production technology. These dollars leverage additional investments by the taconite producers. The taconite producers receive 30.1 cents for every ton of taconite they produce and must match it with a minimum of 7.35 cents per ton for an approved project. This rebate, commonly referred to as the investment tax credit, was made permanent by the 2001 Legislature. If the total annual production, from all producers, does not exceed 30 million tons, the rebate on pellet production is suspended for that year. The chips and fines that are produced that year are unaffected and remain eligible for the 15.4 cents per ton rebate. In 2009, taconite pellet production fell below the 30 million ton minimum, therefore in 2010, only chips and fines production was eligible for the rebate.
The agency has provided an additional $46,389,561 since 1993 to the taconite producers through its Taconite Assistance Program ($14 million) and the Producers Grant Program PGP, ($21,466,186 Minnesota Statute §298.2961). In 1996, the board approved using $10 million from the Douglas J. Johnson Trust Fund for the PGP through which IRRRB provided grants to taconite producers for environmentally unique reclamation projects and facility improvements.
In March 2009, the University of Minnesota – Duluth, Labovitz School of Business and Economics Bureau of Business and Economic Research completed and released a study titled, ”The Economic Impact of Ferrous and Non-ferrous Mining on the State of Minnesota and on the Arrowhead Region and Douglas County, WI.” The data presented show that in 2007, taconite mining was responsible for 32% of the local area’s economy, forestry contributed 12% and tourism provided 11%. Mining’s economic impact was three times greater than either forestry or tourism.