Cliffs ready to produce new kind of iron pellet - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Cliffs ready to produce new kind of iron pellet

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DULUTH, Minn. (AP) -- Cliffs Natural Resources says it's ready to produce a new kind of iron ore pellet in Minnesota that could potentially open new markets.

Cliffs, which operates three taconite mines in northeastern Minnesota, says it successfully completed a two-weeklong, full-scale production test of direct reduced iron-grade pellets at its Silver Bay plant last month. The test produced 30,000 tons of the pellets.

The new kind of pellets are low in silica, which makes them suitable for making steel in smaller electric arc furnaces, known as mini-mills.

Standard taconite pellets from the Iron Range have historically fed traditional blast furnaces around the Great Lakes.

In a conference call Thursday, Cliffs CEO Joseph Carrabba said the company has yet to secure a customer for the new kind of pellets but talks are continuing.

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