Friday 2nd December 2022 Font size:

Cleveland-Cliffs Selects Michigan Site for Iron Nugget Plant

Friday, August 17th, 2007

Cleveland-Cliffs Inc has announced the Company and joint-venture partner Kobe Steel Ltd. intend to construct a commercial-scale iron nugget production facility at Cliffs’ Empire Mine site in Palmer, Michigan. Production, projected at 500,000 tons per year, is expected to commence by early 2010.
As previously announced, the new facility will use Kobe’s patented ITmk3 ironmaking technology under a 10-year alliance agreement. This revolutionary process will produce high-purity iron nuggets containing more than 96 percent iron.

Currently, Empire Mine produces iron ore pellets, which contain approximately 65 percent iron, that are used as a feed in blast furnaces to produce steel.

Using the Kobe process, the iron ore feed would bypass the blast furnace and provide a consistent source of very high-quality domestic metallic feed in nugget form. These iron nuggets would be used as a raw material feed for the North American steel industry’s mini-mill market. Mini-mills use electric arc furnaces to melt pig iron or recycled steel products to produce new steel.

The mini-mill segment of the steel industry continues to grow in the United States. In 2006, mini-mills produced more than 55 million tons of steel, compared with the 45 million tons produced at integrated steel operators.

Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph A. Carrabba commented: “This project furthers one of Cliffs’ key strategic objectives to sustain its leadership position in metallics-related processes and should open a very promising and growing new market for our Company. The selection of Empire as the location for the initial nugget plant involved an exhaustive process, with permitting considerations playing a major role. Additionally, locating the new facility at Empire will extend Cliffs’ operations there, as the mine’s current pellet equivalent ore reserves and operating plan would exhaust pelletizing capacity by 2010.”

Executive Vice President, Cliffs Metallics and Chief Technical Officer William Brake will oversee the project. Carrabba added, “We are pleased to have Bill lead this effort. As Mittal Steel’s former EVP of Operations, he brings a wealth of relevant operating expertise to bear in this venture.”

The project is subject to obtaining environmental permits, execution of final agreements between Cliffs and Kobe, and final approval of each company’s board of directors. Next steps in the process involve facility design and workforce development.

< go back