NRRI develops system to process Iron Range ilmenite

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

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A new substance could expand Northern Minnesota’s mining industry and create jobs near Hoyt Lakes, according to findings of a technical report prepared by UMD’s Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI). 

Ilmenite could profitably be mined and processed into titanium dioxide, NRRI researchers found during laboratory testing. The ultra-white value-added product is typically used as a paint and plastics pigment, incorporated into pharmaceutical products and as titanium metal, said Dr. Rolf Weberg, NRRI executive director. The system would produce a concentrated titanium worth about $3,000 a ton, said Bill Ulland, president of American Shield Titanium Group LLC, which provided 10 tons of ore to NRRI for the demonstration project. Ulland also is CEO and board chair of Duluth-based IKONICS Corp.

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