Updated: March 02, 2021 06:33 PM
Created: March 02, 2021 08:12 AM
UMD's Natural Resources Research Institute has received a $2.1 million dollar grant to help move the mining industry forward.
The money is coming from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Researchers will be looking for ways to enhance iron ore pellet chemistry, to make them usable for the DRI (direct reduced iron) process.
Don Fosnacht, NRRI's Associate Director, said, "Different mines on the Iron Range have different capabilities for making direct reduced grade pellets. This will assist Minnesota mines to produce pellets for direct reduced iron. Our goal is to keep all of our mines active and producing the iron ore of the future."
Cleveland-Cliffs is making the DR grade pellets already at Northshore Mining in Silver Bay. Those pellets are feeding their new HBI facility in Toledo.
HBI and other DRI is used in electric arc furnaces (EAF), which now make up about 70% of the steelmaking set up in the United States.
Only Northshore has the capability to make these DR grade pellets. The hope is to find a way to help all the mines move in that direction.
Fosnacht added, "As we improve the quality of raw material being fed in the electric arc furnace, we are seeing more and more pressure on companies like U.S. Steel and Cliffs to optimize their steel production system. And we want to give them a tool to optimize that system so that long term, we're very low cost in the U.S. when it comes to making steel."
Work has been underway on pellet composition for years. But they want to take it a step further, and create an even purer product to feed those EAFs.
The project will include building a simulator at the minerals lab in Coleraine.
NRRI will contribute about half a million dollars to the study.
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