Ore dock passes milestone

After nearly 100 years of operation, the Cleveland-Cliff’s Michigan Transportation Division’s Marquette ore dock marked a significant event when the 400-millionth ton of iron ore was loaded from the dock onto the Great Lakes ore carrier Michipicoten.
“This is quite an accomplishment for the dock and its ninety-four years of operation and for all the employees who have worked to load ore onto Great Lakes freighters there,” said Clifford Smith, general manager of Cleveland-Cliff’s Michigan operations.
The tonnage includes ore loaded since operations began at the dock in 1912 through July 22 of this year. The total includes both direct shipping lump ores mined on the Marquette Iron Range in the earlier years of mining and iron ore pellets, produced since 1956.
When the dock was constructed, the William G. Mather was the pride of the Cleveland-Cliffs shipping fleet. It held 10,200 tons of ore, compared to the Michipicoten, which left Marquette recently carrying 17,567 tons. In the first year of operation, the dock loaded 2,224,217 tons of lump ore, compared to 7,857,985 tons of pellets in 2005.
In 2006, the dock received its most significant upgrade since 1912. The manually operated pocket doors were replaced with an automatic air-operated system. Other changes include a security system that limits access to and from the dock and ore carriers. These changes are in compliance with U.S. Department of Homeland Security requirements.
“To have the dock remaining in operation 94 years after construction speaks well of how management and employees have adapted over the years to the changes that have taken place in mining, processing and shipping iron ore,” Smith said. “It’s remarkable.”
Although satisfied with the recent milestone, new goals are ready to be met. With the addition of the new doors and ongoing mining operations on the Marquette Range, the dock will continue to play an important part in shipping iron ore to steelmakers in the United States and Canada for many years to come.
Cleveland-Cliff’s Michigan operations, managed by the Cleveland-Cliff’s Iron Company, include the Empire and Tilden open-pit mining and processing facilities in the Upper Peninsula and a railroad transportation division. Michigan operations employ nearly 1,400 people and have the capacity to produce around thirteen million tons of iron ore pellets annually.

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