The Iron Mining Association of Minnesota (IMA) congratulates Cleveland Cliffs on unveiling an innovative new process at Northshore Mining in Silver Bay. Northshore Mining will shift from creating traditional taconite pellets to DR-grade (direct-reduced) pellets that will be used to produce steel in electric arc furnaces, as opposed to traditional blast furnaces.
“This transition at Northshore Mining marks an investment that will continue the long-term success of iron mining in our state and nation,” said Kelsey Johnson, President of the IMA. “With this expansion, we’re shifting into an exciting new era of mining in northeastern Minnesota. The IMA applauds Cleveland Cliffs on its commitment to northeastern Minnesota’s iron mining industry.”
Northshore Mining’s $100 million expansion project has been underway since March 2018. The upgraded facility began shipping low silica DR-grade pellets in June of 2019 – and is the only U.S.-based producer of this product. The DR-grade pellets will contain a more pure concentration of iron than traditional pellets (and lower silica), and their production will be more efficient as electric arc furnaces require less energy than blast furnaces.
“The iron mining industry is evolving and growing, and we are proud to see Minnesota setting the pace,” continued Johnson. “Our state’s iron industry has worldwide competitors, but each innovation and investment in Minnesota’s mines sets our state up for a strong place in the market. Minnesota is supplying the key ingredient for our nation’s steel market.”
The DR-grade pellets produced by Northshore Mining will be shipped to Cleveland Cliff’s Toledo, Ohio Hot Briquetted Iron (HBI) plant, which is currently under construction. The Toledo plant is an $830 million investment and set to be completed mid-2020.