Iron ore concentrate from Minnesota will go to make pig iron in Lorain, Ohio under a deal reached between fledgling ERP Iron Ore and Republic Steel.
Under the agreement ERP will produce concentrated ore at its recently acquired Magnetation operations outside Grand Rapids, move it by rail to its Reynolds, Ind. plant to be baked into pellets and then ship those pellets to Ohio to be made into pig iron.
The two companies will be joint owners of the new pig-iron plant to be built on the site of a now-shuttered Republic blast furnace mill.
That pig iron — about 1 million tons annually — will go to electric-arc furnace steel mills, the first time Minnesota Iron Range ore will regularly go to supply the electric-arc steel market as a highly pure supplement to scrap metal, the main feedstock for electric mills.
Because those electric arc mills now control 60 percent of the domestic steel industry, the move to supply them is considered critical for the future of Minnesota’s Iron Range. Until now nearly all Minnesota ore has gone to traditional blast-furnace mills that are seeing a smaller slice of the nation’s steel business.
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