Essar Steel Minnesota LLC (ESML) is building a state-of-the-art open pit mining, concentrating and pelletizing plant. This started as a greenfield pellet plant project in northern Minnesota, on the western end of the Biwabik Iron Formation (the Mesabi Range), with a 19,000-acre project boundary, of which 4,360 acres are mineral lease land.
At the project, we have an aggregate of approximately 1.8 billion tonnes of measured and indicated magnetite iron resources, of which approximately 1.7 billion tonnes are classified as proven or probable reserves, and an additional 0.2 billion tonnes of inferred magnetite iron resources.
Construction and development of the project commenced in October 2010. ESML expects operations to commence in the second quarter of 2015, ramping up to an annual production capacity of 7 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) in quarter one of 2016.
All of the required Federal and State regulatory permits and approvals for the 7 MTPA pelletizing capacity have been received. Permits and approvals for 1.8 MTPA of direct reduced iron (DRI) and 1.5 MTPA of electric arc furnace based steel are also in place. Project financing is fully committed for the commissioning of 4.1 MTPA pelletizing capacity, while obtaining additional project financing for the incremental 2.9 MTPA is in process.
ESML has the flexibility to produce standard, fluxed and direct reduction grade pellets. ESML looks to be one of the lowest cost producers of pellets in North America, due to ore body characteristics of its location area and significant technological improvements since the building of the last pellet plant in the US in the 1970s. ESML is strategically located with multiple access points to a world-class ground transportation infrastructure to serve the North American market, and multiple vessel options for the international seaborne market.