Kobe Steel announced today that their Mesabi Nugget ITmk3 demonstration plant has begun continuous production of iron nuggets.
The plant located in Minnesota, USA, underwent its first trial run on May 24-25, when it successfully produced 5 tons of iron nuggets. Following that, it has been running for 24 hours a day, since June 7th, outputting approximately 2 tons of iron nuggets an hour.
Steel Dynamics in Indiana, USA received the first delivery of nuggets which performed well in melting tests.
The current continuous operation of the plant will continue until it has been operation for 35 days, upon which the plant will be shut down for inspection. The plant will then perform another test according to the development plan, which will require it to run continuously for a year, finishing in about June 2004.
The demonstration plant was built by Kobe Steel, to evaluate the ITmk3 process developed by Mesabi Nugget. If testing goes well, they could build a 500,000 ton commercial scale plant, which could be operational by 2006. The advantage of the process is that it produces a product which is 50% lighter then iron ore (containing between 96-98% iron, with the remainder being primarily carbon). The upshot of this is that it will significantly reduce shipping costs.
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