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A first time experience of the mine

December 30, 2012
The Mining Journal

Recently was invited out to tour the Empire and Tilden Mines. I went out to Palmer on Thursday and found myself amazed by what I saw. As the Ishpeming Bureau reporter for The Mining Journal I will be covering the mine here and there as part of my job. So Dale Hemmila, Cliffs' director of public affairs for North America, and Jennifer Huetter, Cliffs' district manager of public affairs for Michigan, invited me out to the mines to learn a little more about what it looks like and how things work.

As I got closer to Palmer the first thing I saw was the snow-covered, large stockpiles. I was instantly mesmerized by how beautiful these stockpiles, which are essential giant piles of rock, as I took this winding road out to the mines. I know that might sound a little weird for me to say that and that there might be people who don't find them all that pretty, but the photographer in me just wanted to pull over and whip out my camera.

When I got to the mine, Jennifer met me at the gate to give me a tour of the facilities. Our first stop on the tour was to look at the Empire Mine pit. I always knew that mine operations were large but to be standing above it looking down definitely put it into perspective for me.

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The thing I found most amazing during my tour was the size of the production trucks. Jennifer showed me the 240-ton production trucks and the 340-ton production trucks, that haul the material from place to place in the mines.

I've seen many pictures of these trucks, and in the photographs they really don't look all that big, so I was surprised when I was standing next to one. I would say the 240 trucks are about the size of a big two-story house. The 340 trucks are even bigger than that. I now know what it feels like to be an ant.

The rest of the tour was Jennifer taking me through the Tilden Mine factory, showing and explaining how the iron ore is made into the little pelts that most people are familiar with.

When I first came to Marquette about five and half years ago I learned that this area has been known for mining for quite sometime now and I've always been curious about them. Well the curiosity has been satisfied and I feel that I have a little bit better understanding about how things work at the mines.

Editor's note: Recent Northern Michigan University graduate and Mining Journal Ishpeming Bureau reporter Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500. Her email address is



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