Iron Range elected officials, union representatives and miners told legislators Thursday about the struggles of the beleaguered region, which has seen 2,000 layoffs since last spring.
"I would rather put on my workboots than put on a suit," said one miner pleading for help before the group of legislators, who are meeting to discuss a potential special legislative session to provide help for laid off iron miners.
Magnetation will idle a plant this month, the company announced this week. Other idled operations in the past year include North Shore Mining in Silver Bay, United Taconite in Forbes and Eveleth, Mesabi Nugget in Hoyt Lakes and Mining Resources in Chisholm, Minntac in Mountain Iron, and Keetac in Keewatin.
A glut of steel in the global market and the slowdown of the Chinese economy have created a rapid collapse in demand for the taconite the Iron Range produces.
The downturn in the mines has battered other businesses in the region like shops and restaurants that rely on a healthy mining economy. Workers in the mines average nearly $90,000.