Minerals and Metallurgy

Platform Overview

Delivering Industry Support Today, Developing Next Gen Technology, Processes and Products for Tomorrow

The Minerals and Metallurgy Platform supports current minerals industries with process improvements and efficiencies while anticipating next-generation technologies and products. Researchers work to define Minnesota’s mineral resources and demonstrate competitive, responsible resource use and seek new opportunities.

Our staff expertise and testing capabilities in mineral characterization, mineral processing and metallurgy are recognized by regional and international clients. Discovery and operational research teams work together across our facilities in an innovative approach to minerals and metallurgy.

With facilities located in northern Minnesota near Lake Superior (NRRI Duluth) as well as the Mesabi Iron Range (NRRI Coleraine), NRRI labs are strategically positioned to serve mineral resource-based industries and their product supply chains. 

    Platform Goals

    1. Perform discovery research aimed at advancing the state of the art in technology and mineral processing.
    2. Perform operational research aimed at addressing our clients needs on schedule and on budget.

    Minerals and Metallurgy Capabilities and Expertise

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      NRRI has deep expertise and capabilities in the following areas:

      • Economic Geology & Geometallurgy
      • Mineral and Material Characterization
        • Geology
        • Mineralogy
        • Metallogy
        • Geometallurgy
      • Mineral Processing
        • Comminution
        • Screening
        • Beneficiation
        • Agglomeration
      • Metallurgy
        • Pyrometallurgy 
        • Hydrometallurgy
      • Secondary Products

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      Meet Our Experts

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      Bench Scale to Pilot Scale Capabilities

      NRRI has bench to pilot scale capabilities, which decreases capital investment for our clients and decreases risk in product development. 

      Bench Scale Testing and Development

      The purpose of bench-scale testing is to:

      • Generate basic characterization and metallurgical data
      • Develop and/or test a process flowsheet
      • Determine the process parameters for pilot-scale testing
      • Test multiple process variants at a small scale (lbs/Kgs) for time and cost efficiency
      • Narrow the scope of the work for pilot testing
      • Sizing of equipment used at this scale is generally 5 to 10 orders of magnitude smaller than industrial scale

      Pilot Scale Testing and Development

      The purpose of pilot-scale testing is to:

      • Validate a process flowsheet
      • Assess technical aspects that cannot be detected on smaller-scale (e.g., impurity buildup in products over time, effect of recirculation of water and slurry streams, etc.)
      • Work with tons of material at a scale that facilitates development of data for industrial plant design
      • Generate bulk materials for further characterization and down-stream testing
      • Sizing of equipment is generally 2 to 4 orders of magnitude smaller than industrial scale

      Research Programs

      Researching regional materials that can be used for economic and/or industrial purposes. Economic Geology program is the center for economic geology studies and mineral resource characterization in

      Defining mineral characterization through the spatial distribution of materials and mineral geologic properties and how that relates to extraction of commodity materials.

      Continued investment in assets and capabilities to support regional mineral industry development. 

      Focusing on Minnesota’s ore bodies to understand the most optimal process for extracting metals for a variety of iron products.

      Researching technologies to separate materials from our mineral resources with the least amount of waste or and environmental impact. 

      Developing next generation taconite pellets to help Minnesota's ore processing industry to prepare for the future.

      Seeking to find beneficial use of mineral-based secondary products generated by mining and other industrial activities,

      Featured Research Projects

      Developing a durable road repair patch utilizing taconite tailings, the waste rock left over from the iron ore mines on Minnesota's Iron Range.

      Recent News

      NRRI logo

      Geology Senior Lab Technician
      Job ID: 360257
      Location: Duluth
      Job Family: Supplemental Employee
      Employee Class: Civil Service

      NRRI logo

      Title: Researcher 4 - NRRI Assistant Research Scientist
      Job ID 360188
      Location Duluth
      Full-Time Regular
      Employee Class: Civil Service

      Three men stand in front of a conference booth.

      NRRI researchers to present industry innovations at SME 2024.

      A man wearing safety PPE stands in front of large industrial equipment.

      Advanced degree moves technician into broad arena of project management.

      A man swings a large steel cap onto an orange hot vertical kiln.

      U.S. Department of Energy and NRRI fund project to develop biocarbon to replace fossil carbon in steelmaking process

      A man wearing safety PPE stands in front of a large industrial kiln.

      Sustainability meets mining industry for this minerals engineer from India.