The Green Production Project at United Taconite epitomizes the power of partnering for environmentally sustainable decision making. In 2008, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) was working hard to incorporate regional haze solutions into its air quality plans. A traditional approach to reducing regional haze emissions at United Taconite would have likely included pollution controls that might not be economically feasible in most applications and would provide limited emission reduction opportunity. Faced with this realization, Cliffs and MPCA representatives partnered to find a way to redesign the facility in Forbes, Minnesota, that would provide greater emissions reductions.
Cliffs committed to make substantial capital improvements to the facility, including a retrofit to allow burning of lower-emitting fuels and the addition of new emission control equipment. The project will allow enhanced fuel blending and the use of lower-sulfur coal and biomass, resulting in substantially less use of petroleum coke and natural gas. The estimated environmental improvements from the Green Production Project are substantial: for each ton of iron pellets produced, there could be a:
14% reduction in mercury emissions
30% reduction in GHG emissions
37% reduction in emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter
These reductions will allow the facility to increase production from approximately 5.3 million long tons to 6 million long tons per year, adding 24 new jobs, while still reducing annual air emissions and helping MPCA address the state’s regional haze issue.