The Project is located in the Mesabi Range, which is the largest of the four major iron ore ranges in Minnesota and has a history of iron more mining back to the 1890s. Being located in the Mesabi Range will enable us to leverage the established local infrastructure and the area’s skilled labor force to complete and operate the facilities.
The Project will consist of an open-pit iron ore mine, crushing, concentrating and pelletizing facilities and a rail line with train-loading system. All major infrastructure work on the Project has been advanced. All material permits to develop, construct and operate the facilities are either in place or in the renewal process. The Project is in the advanced stages of development with engineering and construction approximately 65% and 45% complete, respectively.
The Project is located approximately 80 miles by rail from the Port of Duluth and has full transportation infrastructure in place, including access to two Class I rail carriers and sufficient existing port capacity to transport all of our expected annual production to customers.
The Project, in the western Mesabi Range in Northern Minnesota, is expected to produce high-grade DR and BF pellets.
DR grade pellets are used to make direct reduced iron (DRI), which is then used as an alternative feed to scrap in the electric arc furnace (EAF) method of crude steel production. Growing demand for DR grade pellets is driven by the decrease in supply of scrap and the increasing utilization of EAFs, which typically emit less carbon pollution than a blast furnace operation and will continue to gain market share as environmental restrictions tighten.
Globally, demand for both forms of pellets is expected to increase relative to other iron ore products such as sinter, as steel producers look to increase plant efficiency, lower environmental emissions and lower waste production. DR pellets are suitable for conversion to direct-reduced iron at competitive cost and provide a cost-effective primary feed for EAF production, a more carbon efficient and environment-friendly process than traditional blast furnaces.
With our modern plant design and use of the latest technology, we expect to minimize any adverse environmental impact from our pellet production.
Additionally, the Project is one of the largest investments in the State of Minnesota and is expected to positively impact the local economy through state royalties, taxes to local and federal governments, payments to local utilities and the employment of a large construction and operation workforce.
Low Cost of Operations
- We benefit from a low stripping ratio that is expected to average 0.75:1.00 over the first five years of operations.
- Our Project’s ore is characterized by low silica and low phosphorous content, improving beneficiation and requiring less energy when grinding and allowing a more cost efficient process.
- Our crushers and concentrator are located close to the mine, reducing hauling distance from the mine face and providing reduction in key mine operating costs (e.g. labor, vehicles, fuel, maintenance).
- Our initial one-way mine haulage distance will be less than one mile, which compares favorably to other mining operations in the Mesabi Range with haulage distances of up to eight miles.
- When operational, we will benefit from state-of-the-art processes and technologies which will lower production costs, minimize maintenance activities and mitigate environmental impact.
- We will benefit from affordable access to regional steel mills and seaports by leveraging existing road and rail network in the Great Lakes region.