map showing Hay Lake downstream of Keetac

Downstream from mines, MPCA enforces limit on sulfate

May 5, 2024:  It seems to be a new day at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, where regulators are now enforcing the state's water quality standards more stringently. The agency has denied US Steel's application for a more lenient site-specific standard for Hay Lake, sever...

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Jeff Hanson on the TEDx stage

TEDx audience learns how to solve the sulfate problem

April 17, 2024:  On the TEDxSilver Lake stage in Virginia, Minnesota in February, Jeff Hanson spoke to the event’s theme, Bridging the Divide.  "Sulfate is a big deal because it's become a divisive issue in Minnesota," said Hanson, an issue that appears to set environmental con...

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A floating idea gains traction

March 1, 2024: How do Clearwater Biologic's sulfate-reducing bioreactors actually work? In the Mesabi Tribune, reporter Lee Bloomquist explains the process in simple terms (Feb. 28, 2024). His interview with Jeff Hanson and Bill Newman also shows the broader potential of the pr...

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Hanson's "Bio-Bugs and Iron" presentation

Sulfate cleanup takes a leap in efficiency and affordability

Jan. 26, 2024:  Citizens and scientists in northern Minnesota learned about a recent breakthrough in the Clearwater Biologic sulfate cleanup system, which has strong potential to heal the mining-impacted waters of that region.  Jeffrey Hanson's Jan. 16 presentation to the Bound...

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A solution for sulfate and zebra mussels

  Dec. 21, 2023: After a century of iron and taconite mining in northern Minnesota, the landscape is dotted with former mine pits that have become lakes, some serving as municipal water supply for nearby towns. In addition to the high levels of sulfate and other pollutant...

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Map of south shore of Birch Lake

Sulfate pollution: Focus shifts from the future to the present

December 1, 2023: For the past decade in Minnesota, media coverage and public debate on sulfate have often focused on the future, warning of potential sulfate pollution from copper-nickel mining, which might or might not get a green light on the Iron Range. But sulfate polluti...

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Map showing Birch Lake's proximity to BWCA

Sulfate pollution poised to affect Minnesota’s Boundary Waters

Nov. 15, 2023:  It’s a grim landmark for a watershed. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has released its 2023 draft list of impaired waters in the state, and for the first time it includes Birch Lake, the 20-mile-long reservoir on the Iron Range. Birch Lake is part of the...

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CCL's four climate solutions for northern Minnesota

Sulfate cleanup plays key role in green steel transition, says climate group

In northern Minnesota, the Northland chapter of Citizens' Climate Lobby is focusing on green iron and steel production as a regional response to a changing industry and a changing climate. The Iron Range has adapted to economic shifts in the past, and now the rapidly decarboniz...

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Graph showing sulfate's influence on mercury methylation in research area

Mercury in the food chain is magnified by sulfates

October 2023:  In bodies of water, higher sulfate levels are correlated with increased mercury methylation, leading to higher mercury concentrations in the food chain, says US Forest Service researcher Randy Kolka. In his recent talk "Factors influencing mercury cycling and bio...

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UMN Duluth biologist John Pastor with group

Site-specific sulfate standards for wild rice waters: Will they work?

September 15, 2023: "The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has been trying for years to figure out how to get taconite mines and wastewater treatment plants to reduce the sulfate in their effluent because it damages wild rice," Stephanie Hemphill reports in Agate. "The current...

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Mesocosm tanks with wild rice

Why care about sulfate?

May 2023: A panel discussion titled "Why Should Minnesotans Care About Sulfate?" brought together four speakers with scientific, legal, and tribal affiliations on April 3, hosted by the nonprofit Water Legacy. Watch the video in full here (110 minutes).  Some highlights: At 2...

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CWB's booth at SME conference

Mining professionals talk sulfate at SME Conference

In April, Clearwater BioLogic had a successful presence at Minnesota's annual SME Conference with in-depth explanations on the technology of sulfate reduction. Hosted by the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, the gathering focused largely on the greening of iron and...

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SME 2023 conference logo

Let’s connect at SME conference April 17–19 in Virginia, Minnesota

Visit Clearwater Biologic at the top-performing regional minerals conference in the Midwest, hosted by the Society of Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration. Learn about our sulfate remediation process, now enhanced by the use of reactive direct reduced iron (DRI).  Ideally suite...

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New forms of iron for greener steel can also help with mining cleanup

March 12, 2023: First it was natural iron ore, then taconite. Can the Iron Range make the leap to produce and process, at scale, the new forms of iron needed by a rapidly decarbonizing steel industry? Aaron Brown posed that question in a January Minnesota Reformer article, “Hop...

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Citizens Climate Lobby group meets in Duluth

Range is “uniquely positioned” to prosper from global shift in iron-to-steel processes

March 11, 2023: Worldwide, the iron mining and steel industries are at a turning point, say the authors of a recent article in the Mining issue of Hometown Focus, published on Minnesota’s Iron Range. Climate change is driving a swift decarbonization of the iron-to-steel process...

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St. Louis River estuary

Less sulfate, less methylmercury, safer fish harvests

March 8, 2023:  There’s another benefit to sulfate remediation in freshwater ecosystems: less sulfate also bodes well for healthier fish and wildlife. That’s because in these settings, sulfate boosts the conversion of mercury to methylmercury, the substance that makes fish unsa...

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Map of south shore of Birch Lake

A large lake has varying sulfate levels: Is it “impaired”?

February 2023: On Minnesota’s Iron Range, the 20-mile-long reservoir known as Birch Lake snakes through the forest northeast of Babbitt. With shorelines rich in wild rice, these waters ultimately flow north into the Rainy Lake watershed and the Boundary Waters. But on Birch Lak...

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Improved sulfate process holds potential for multiple wins on the Iron Range

October 30, 2022: Clearwater BioLogic "is fine-tuning a process that could turn a cost-effective fix for one of the Iron Range’s biggest environmental problems into a job-producing enterprise," said an Oct. 26 article in The Timberjay, covering northern Minnesota news. Earlier...

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Hanson speaks to the Ely Climate Group

Green Steel gains an advocate in northern Minnesota

Oct. 19, 2022:  On top of renewed media attention for its sulfate cleanup system, Clearwater BioLogic’s Jeff Hanson is also emerging as a champion for green steel development on the Iron Range. He was among the guests on Duluth public television’s Almanac North “Core Conversati...

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Green steel plant in Boden, Sweden

Iron Range could be poised for green steel production

Oct. 13, 2022: How could northern Minnesota help revolutionize the iron and steel industry? "The potential is there for a process that goes right from mine to steel on site," said an editorial on a talk given October 12 by Jeff Hanson of Clearwater BioLogic. The editorial in Th...

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New 3-step process uses reactive iron rather than added chemicals

Innovation in sulfate treatment will cut cost of remediation

October 7, 2022: Clearwater BioLogic announces a new and revised Step 2 in its three-step sulfate treatment process. After Step 1 generates hydrogen sulfide through biological reduction, Step 2 now uses reactive iron treatment: the hydrogen sulfide is bonded with iron without t...

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PolyMet's NorthMet mine site

PolyMet and Teck join forces for copper-nickel mining

July 27, 2022: A new venture between PolyMet Mining and minerals giant Teck Resources creates a significant prospect for the development of copper-nickel mining on Minnesota's Iron Range. Named NewRange Copper Nickel, the joint venture is focused outside of the Rainy River wate...

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Sulfate-impaired waters in northern MN as of Dec. 2021

Facing up to the wild rice sulfate problem

December 31, 2021: For a problem to be solved, it must first be named. Given that fact, 2021 marked progress for Minnesota's wild rice waters, many of which are tainted by sulfates. After a nudge from the federal EPA last March, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency started in...

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Rainy River, aerial view

Setback for possible copper-nickel mining on the Iron Range

October 21, 2021:  In addition to iron and taconite, Northern Minnesota has deposits of copper, nickel, and other minerals in high demand. One such deposit is in the watershed bordering on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. At t...

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U.S. Steel’s legal losses may prompt a sulfate cleanup

June 30, 2021:  U.S. Steel is running out of legal options to avoid regulation of the sulfate pollution discharged at its Minntac facility in Mountain Iron, Minnesota.  U.S. Steel's latest legal loss may mark the end of its attempt to block the state's Pollution Control Agency...

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Canoe in wild ricing waters

EPA acts to protect Minnesota’s wild rice waters

April 14, 2021: “Biden's Environmental Protection Agency is emerging as a powerful ally in the years-long fight to get Minnesota to protect wild rice beds from sulfate pollution,” Stephanie Hemphill reported in Minnpost April 13, 2021. “Minnesota tribal and environmental groups...

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More Minnesota wild rice waters designated “impaired” by EPA

  March 30, 2021:  In its latest review of Minnesota’s polluted waters (March 2021), the Environmental Protection Agency  dictated that numerous sulfate-tainted lakes, rivers, and streams be added to the state’s “Impaired Waters” list. These waters do not meet the state’s...

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EPA letter holds MPCA accountable to water quality standards

March 26, 2021:  In a letter dated March 26, 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency required the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to include sulfate-laden water bodies on its Impaired Waters list, citing “Minnesota’s federally-approved 10 mg/L standard” for wild rice areas. ...

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Wild rice waters in northern Minnesota

Minnesota tribes pressure governor to clean up mining pollution

January 20, 2021:  Tribal nations from across Minnesota are accusing state regulators of bad faith over their continuing failure to address pollution concerns, many stemming from lax regulation of the Iron Range’s taconite industry.  Read the article online or as a PDF.

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