28/10/2014 – Essar: Pellet production in 2015

NASHWAUK — Essar Steel Minnesota LLC (ESML) is on schedule to being producing iron ore pellets in the second half of 2015, the company announced late Thursday.

The news comes just weeks after Essar Steel Minnesota officials confirmed that they’ve secured the necessary financing to complete construction of its fully permitted open-pit iron ore mine, crushing, concentrating and pelletizing facilities in Nashwauk.

Essar closed on a financing package for the entire $1.8 billion project on Sept. 30, which poised the company to ramp up work at the site and make good on money owed to local vendors.

Mitchell Brunfelt, assistant general counsel and director of public relations for Essar Steel, told the Mesabi Daily News (MDN) in mid-September that Essar had made significant payments to local vendors around that time and that additional significant payments to local vendors were expected.

“We have had some contractors already working back out at the site, with additional contractors re-mobilizing and anticipated to be returning to work at the site … ,” he told the MDN.

Essar received a cash infusion of approximately $800 million from equity contributions from sponsor Essar Global Fund Limited and debt financing to be utilized for completing construction of the project and ramping up operations, according to Essar officials.

“With close to 100 percent of engineering complete, about 90 percent in value of procurement orders released and 50 percent of construction activities completed for the project, ESML remains on schedule to commence production of iron ore pellets in the second half of 2015,” reads the press release.

Essar Steel Minnesota expects to be the lowest cost producer of taconite pellets in North America and will be the only pellet producer in the United States to have the flexibility and production capability to produce standard blast furnace pellets as well as fluxed and DR grade pellets, according to Essar officials.

The Nashwauk facility already has customers committed over the long term to purchase its entire 7 million tons of planned annual production capacity through firm, long-term off-take agreements in place with ArcelorMittal USA Inc. and Essar Steel Algoma Inc.

Essar Steel Minnesota was recently visited by Gov. Mark Dayton, Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board Commissioner (IRRRB) Tony Sertich and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Tom Landwehr.

Dayton and Sertich spent time in Essar Steel Minnesota’s offices in Hibbing to review and discuss the project given the recent news that Essar had secured the necessary financing to complete construction of its Nashwauk facilities.

Tom Landwehr visited and toured the project site Thursday, during which Essar officials said he observed first-hand the construction activities that are again underway and the project’s progress.
Ground was broken for the plant at the former Butler Taconite site in 2008. Besides iron ore mining and production, the facility was envisioned to include concentration and pellet plants, a direct-reduced iron plant and steelmaking facilities.

The company had high hopes of producing iron ore pellets within about two years of the construction start, with direct-reduced iron pellet production expected to begin five years after that, followed by production of steel a year later. The vision to add value to the product on the Range with a steel mill was scrapped a few years ago.

Source – Hibbing Daily Tribune