Mesabi Nugget successfully began production of ITmk3 Iron Nuggets in January 2010.

Since then, the plant has been increasing its output and nugget productivity has reached 80%, and the plant availability has improved to 85%.

Given the productivity and plant availability figures that have been achieved, and considering that the major process controlling factors such as reactions in the rotary hearth furnace did not show any problems, Kobe Steel has confirmed that the process works well.

The ramp-up of the nugget production rate has been slower than desired because of mechanical issues with the coal conveyor system. A new conveyor system has been installed, and Kobe Steel is confident this will solve the conveyor issues.

It is expected the plant will reach its rated capacity of 500kt/y in H2 2011.

Mesabi Nugget is the world's first commercial plant using the ITmk3 Process and is located at Hoyt Lakes in northern Minnesota, USA. It is a joint venture between Steel Dynamics and Kobe Steel.