Construction Set to Begin on Cleveland Cliffs Toledo HBI Plant

A major industrial project broke ground on April 5, as Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. kicked off construction at the Ironville Terminal in the Port of Toledo on their $700 million hot-briquetted iron (HBI) production plant.

Site preparation work on the site is already complete and construction on the HBI plant is expected to create 1,200 jobs for members of the Northwest Ohio Building Trades under a National Maintenance Agreement (NMA).

Shaun Enright, Executive Secretary/Business Manager for the Northwest Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, said the project is a great opportunity for his affiliated members to prove, once again, that they are the most highly trained and highly skilled construction workforce in Northwest Ohio.

“Cliffs is relying on the skill and experience of the Northwest Ohio Building Trades members to safely construct this plant on time and on budget,” he said.

The estimated completion time for the project is two years. Once finished, the facility will have the nominal capacity to produce 1.6 million metric tons of HBI per year.

The plant will make Cliffs the sole producer of high-quality customized feedstock for domestic electric arc furnace steelmakers located in the Great Lakes region.

During the ceremony, Cliffs Chairman, President and CEO Lourenco Goncalves said a number of domestic steel producers use pig iron imported from Ukraine.

The days of Ukrainian vessels docking here are numbered,” said Goncalves. “We can produce pellets and HBI. Cliffs is the only one that can do it.”

Goncalves said the U.S. is a manufacturing superpower and because of Lake Erie, construction workers will build Cliffs the most efficient and most environmentally friendly HBI plant in the world.

He said work on the site will move quickly.

“This site will be changing very fast,” said Goncalves. “We will have a 494-foot tower that will be a symbol of resurgency in Toledo.”

The construction project is due in part to Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz’s office, which worked quickly to move the process along.

Cliffs Executive Vice President of Business Development, Clifford Smith, said Kapszukiewicz’s office played a major role in getting key permits approved, which helped push the construction timetable ahead two months.

For Cliffs, this project will help them remain a top supplier to the U.S. steel industry.

“Blast furnaces are being replaced by electric arc furnaces,” said Goncalves. “We are building this first plant in Toledo to make Cliffs able to provide to the steel industry for the next 50 to 60 years. We will be here for a long time and be great neighbors.”

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