International Iron Beneficiation Group Ltd. (IIBG), an affiliate of Russia-based OAO Severstal, one of the world’s leading vertically integrated steel and steel-related-mining companies, has launched a preliminary feasibility study to consider the viability of building a granulated iron facility in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Other locations under active consideration in North America include Sept-Îles, Quebec, and sites in Minnesota, Kentucky and Indiana in the United States.

Potential plants to be built at these locations would use an innovative process developed by the International Mineral Beneficiation Services (IMBS) based in South Africa. The IMBS process converts superfine iron ore into metallic iron units without the need for agglomeration. The final product would be used for steel production, mostly in electric arc furnaces as an effective substitute for scrap. The IMBS process is cost efficient and has lower environmental impacts than traditional processes.

IIBG’s decision as to whether the locations under consideration will be developed and in what sequence within the context of an overall North American strategy will depend on the results of the respective feasibility studies and the successful launch of the first commercial plant utilizing IMBS technology in Phalaborwa, South Africa. IMBS is leading the Phalaborwa plant construction, where Severstal holds a 33% stake.

“IIBG emphasizes at this time that the company is conducting the necessary due diligence to determine the feasibility and priority of potential sites. IIBG cautions and confirms that no final commitments can be made at this very early stage of the business development process,” said IIBG CEO Dmitry Solomin.

The feasibility study for a possible Sydney, Nova Scotia, plant will be initiated first, to be followed by investigation of other sites during the course of 2013. A decision on whether to proceed with a project and its sequence will be made at the completion of these studies.