ST. PAUL (AP) -- State officials have approved a financing package to help build a $24 million demonstration plant in Silver Bay to test an environmentally friendly process for producing a high purity iron.
With the new process, 95 percent pure iron nuggets can be produced directly from iron ore and shipped to electric arc furnaces and foundries to make steel.
By contrast, taconite pellets now produced on Minnesota's Iron Range have an iron content of around 70 percent and are used primarily in blast furnace steel mills.
If the demonstration plant is successful, it could pave the way for a commercial plant that would eventually employ at least 100 people.
Money for the Mesabi Nugget LLC plant includes $8 million in loans from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Agency, which the agency can convert to ownership shares; an $8 million loan from the Minnesota Minerals 21st Century Fund administered by the Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development; and contributions from private investors.
Larry Lehtinen, project developer and president of Mesabi Nugget, said construction will begin this summer.
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