Posted at: 04/25/2013 4:38 PM
Updated at: 04/25/2013 9:12 PM
CEO Joe Carrabba spoke about increased demand, the U.S. operations, and the company's focus on the new, higher iron content pellet during an earnings conference call on Thursday.
Last month, Northshore Mining in Silver Bay completed a two week pilot test run, and made 30,000 tons of the purer pellet.
Carrabba said that for the rest of the year, they're going to analyze how to make the process profitable. "We want to be ready when a DRI plant wants pellets. We think we can supply one standard DRI plants for a year."
Northshore is the most cost effective he said, based on the equipment at the facility. But there are possibilities at United Taconite in Forbes, as well.
Carrabba also said that demand is up, and that's why the company has increased their expected sales volume for the year.
"We're seeing consumer spending strengthening, the labor markets are up, and the housing market is showing signs of recovery."
He did caution that there are still some concerns, like the surge of steel imports.
But growth in China continues.
As for new developing projects in the United States, Carrabba acknowledged that there are projects that could be competition. But he said they have positioned themselves to be the largest merchant supplier to steel mills in the United States.