Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. announced it has selected a site in Toledo, Ohio, for the development of its first hot briquetted iron (HBI) production plant. Midrex Technologies was selected to design, engineer and procure equipment for the new plant, which will have the nominal capacity to produce 1.6 million tons of HBI per year.

“Today’s announcement marks a very important strategic milestone for Cliffs as we begin to implement our plans to be the sole producer of high-quality HBI for the EAF steel market in the Great Lakes region,” said Lourenco Goncalves, chairman, president and CEO. “We look forward to the strong margin and earnings potential this new product will generate for Cliffs shareholders.”

Goncalves added, “We thank Gov. John Kasich, JobsOhio and a number of local partners in the Toledo community for their efforts to help advance this project, including an offer of approximately $30 million in grants and other financial incentives.”

Gov. Kasich said, “This is great news for Toledo and we’re pleased that Cliffs chose Ohio for their new investment. In addition to our strategic location and strong business climate, our low-cost natural gas resources give job creators in this industry a competitive advantage, something Cliffs recognized when considering sites for this new technology.”

JobsOhio President and Chief Investment Officer John Minor said the facility will create 130 permanent jobs and more than 1,200 construction jobs over the next two years.

The estimated investment in the entire project is approximately $700 million, and Cliffs is currently in discussions with several passive financial partners. Cliffs anticipates breaking ground for the construction of the HBI production plant in early 2018, with the production of commercial tonnage of HBI beginning in mid-2020. 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.