US-based independent iron ore mining company Cleveland-Cliffs has completed the erection of a furnace reactor tower for its hot briquetted iron (HBI) project in Toledo, Ohio.

The company noted that the erection of the 457ft reactor tower was completed in 296 days and involved 11 separate lifts using a Liebherr LR-13000 crawler crane.

The crane, which is reported to be one of the largest construction cranes in North America, has a 3,000t lifting capacity. It is planned to be disassembled this month.

Cleveland-Cliffs chairman president and CEO Lourenco Goncalves said: “I want to publicly thank the HBI construction team for their efforts in the completion of this crucial milestone ahead of our original schedule.

“I am proud that this portion of the project was accomplished in record time, and also completed with an industry-best environmental and safety record with 1.7 million man-hours.

“Thanks to this hard work, we remain ahead of schedule with a commercial production start date in the first half of 2020.”

Additionally, the company noted that the erection of the furnace reactor tower was a key phase in the construction process, as it would facilitate the commercial production of HBI.

Established in 1847, Cleveland-Cliffs supplies iron ore pellets to the North American steel industry from its mines and pellet plants in Michigan and Minnesota.

Last April, Cleveland-Cliffs announced plans to build a new plant, valued at $700m, for the production of HBI in Toledo, Ohio.

The company intends to make the facility modern, with the capacity to manufacture 1.6 million metric tonnes of customised-quality HBI annually.