Cliffs now producing ‘mustang’ flux pellets at Eveleth

Cliffs Natural Resources’ United Taconite production plant in Forbes, just south of Eveleth, Minnesota. (formerly Eveleth Taconite).

After nine months of winter construction, today Cliffs Natural Resources started its new “mustang” pellet line at United Taconite in Eveleth. The $75 million investment will produce special order flux pellets.

The “mustang” pellet is a iron ore product specially formulated for a particular method of making steel. It’s more like a traditional taconite pellet than higher value direct reduced iron, but requires added elements.

This mustang pellet is one of the reasons United Taconite reopened after a long shutdown last year. The other reason was the closure of a Cliffs mine in Northern Michigan. If it weren’t for these factors, things were looking bleak for United Taconite.

As it stands today, the state of Minnesota nears completion of the Highway 53 bridge between Eveleth and Virginia. This will open new land for Cliffs, or a successor, to mine.

I know some workers familiar with the mustang project construction at United Taconite. In casual conversation, they indicated there were many challenges in getting this new line up and running. But the fact that the pellets have officially started rolling indicates that many of those challenges were overcome.

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