The James R. Barker arrived under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge about 4pm. She is here to pick up the first of many cargos of Mustang iron ore pellets created at Cliffs Natural Resources facilities on the Iron Range. The Barker will deliver the new pellets to Cliffs’ customer ArcelorMittal’s steel mill in Indiana Harbor (the largest blast furnace in North America). The iron ore is mined at UTAC’s “Thunderbird” mine in Eveleth and transported approximately 10 miles by rail to the “Fairlane” plant in Forbes where limestone and dolomite are added to the iron ore.
The pellets are created to maximize the efficiency of this particular blast furnace. Some of this processing was previously done at the blast furnace, thus saving ArcelorMittal time and money at their end. It has higher levels of limestone and dolomite than standard iron ore pellets that allow it to more easily flow through blast furnace No. 7. Cliffs started production of their new Mustang superflux pellet in mid-May. They built a storage facility, silos, a limestone crusher, conveyors and rail infrastructure to support the production of the pellets and their transfer to railcars for the short trip to the CN dock in Duluth.
The mine, located in Eveleth, was constructed in the mid-1960’s by Ford Motor Company. In honor of Ford, the pellets are called “Mustang” pellets, mined at UTAC’s “Thunderbird” mine in Eveleth and shipped to the “Fairlane” plant in Forbes, Minnesota for more processing before being loaded onto rail cars and shipped to Duluth.
|Barker picture taken on July 15, 2015 as she was departing Duluth with coal. Picture just above, courtesy of Cliffs Natural Resources, shows some of the first Mustang pellets created at the new facility.|