A massive kiln at Cliffs' Tilden Mine calls for massive repairs. The mine is replacing a large riding ring and section of the shell on one of its two colossal kilns used to harden iron ore pellets.
On Sunday, Cliffs removed the old parts of the kiln through an opening made in the roof to make way for new ones.
"It is a very sophisticated process; it's been literally years in the planning," said Cliffs representative, Dale Hemmila. "The preparation over the last several months has been very intense, and it's involved a lot of people."
The crane used to lift the kiln stands at 300 feet tall and can lift up to 1,000 tons; the biggest crane the U.P. has ever seen.
The project will cost over five million dollars, but officials at Cliffs say it's well worth it. The kiln has been in use since 1979, and while the maintenance will interrupt production during a busy time for the company, Cliffs officials say it's important to do it now.
"It's never been replaced," Hemmila said. "It's become worn out, and to do it on a proactive basis is much better than having it fail and having us scramble to try to replace it."
Installation of the new parts should start early this week and be completed by the end of the month.