Next Generation Technology and Products

Next Generation Iron Ore Technology and Products

Minnesota's Mesabi Iron Range has long served the domestic steel industry with iron ore. By the end of WWII, all of the lean ore (unprocessed, direct-ship) was mined out. A University of Minnesota researcher developed the process for turning low-grade ore (taconite) into pellets that could replace the lean ore in blast furnaces. While Minnesota's taconite pellet industry still ships out feedstock to the remaining blast furnace steel producers, NRRI is looking ahead to the next generation of iron ore products for the electric arc mini mill steel industry.

Program Overview

NRRI's Coleraine facility holds a nationally unique, pilot-scale research lab that solves short-term problems, identifies unique market niches, provides medium- to long-range technical innovation and develops future products and processes. The facility has an analytical laboratory along with mineral processing, metallurgical and pyrometallurgical processing capabilities.

Program Goals

To help Minnesota's ore processing industry with R&D for more efficient taconite pellets and to prepare for the next-generation ore pellets. Projects underway identify new uses for waste mineral resources, improved processes for higher iron content products, and pilot-scale testing.

Unique Strengths, Expertise and Capabilities

  • Mineral Comminution
  • Mineral Benefication
  • Bench-to-pilot scale facilities
  • Crushing/Grinding/Screening
  • Gravity Separation
  • Chemical Flotation

Projects, Partners and Impacts

  • New technologies and processes to develop higher value iron products
  • Evaluating organic and synthetic binders as alternative to bentonite clay



Head and shoulders photo of a man
Metallurgical Engineer
Profile Sunil Tripathy
Senior Research Scientist