Major New Investments on the Great Lakes – Cleveland Cliffs HBI Plant



Major new investments are on the horizon at Great Lakes ports, including a new hot briquetted iron (HBI) plant which will be located in Toledo – the first of its kind in Northeast Ohio. The $700-million plant, led by Cleveland Cliffs, a major supplier of iron ore in North America, will be the sole producer of high-quality HBI for the electric arc furnace (EAF) steel market in the Great Lakes region.

Project Timeline and Potential

Scheduled to break ground in April of 2018 with the production of commercial tonnage beginning in mid-2020, the new plant will have the nominal capacity to produce 1.6 million tons of HBI per year.

“We’ll be in the 10-12 million ton per year category, which will make us one of the largest US ports on the Great Lakes system,” says Paul Toth, President & CEO of Toledo-Lucas Port Authority. “It means 100 more ships coming to Toledo and bringing iron ore to the region. This is very exciting for the future of this region.”

Economic Development – More Jobs

Lourenco Goncalves, Chairman, President & CEO of Cleveland Cliffs, says the landmark facility will create 130 permanent jobs and more than 1,200 construction jobs.. According to Goncalves, Cliffs considers the brownfield site at the Port of Toledo a premier location for development due to its relative proximity to several future customers, as well as its logistics advantages including affordable gas availability and access by multiple rail carriers.

“The plant will be perfectly placed to meet customer needs,” Goncalves said during the 2018 Great Lakes Waterways Conference which took place February 6 and 7 in downtown Cleveland. “This is the biggest investment for the region, currently. It is for the betterment of the Great Lakes.”

HBI is key to the future of mining and steelmaking in the US, according to Goncalves. The advantage of electric arc furnaces (EAF) is that they use scrap metal rather than iron ore. This means using a lot less energy than traditional blast furnaces and they can be quickly stopped and restarted.

Environmental Stewardship

According to Goncalves, HBI is the way of the future. Producing steel using HBI requires significantly less energy, generates lower greenhouse gas emissions than traditional integrated steel making, and does not produce hazardous or toxic by-products from the process.

“Cleveland Cliffs new HBI plant in Toledo is the most significant port development project of the last decade,” says Steve Fisher, Executive Director of the American Great Lakes Ports Association. “It’s proof that the Great Lakes steel industry is alive, strong and evolving.”