Check out Marquette’s Iron Ore Docks
Iron Ore Dock in Marquette’s Upper Harbor also know as the Presque Isle Dock -
This is a picture of the Iron Ore Dock in Marquette’s Upper Harbor. The dock was built in 1911 and is still commercially active. Each year approximately 7 to 8 million tons of iron in the form of taconite pellets are shipped from this dock. The dock is owned and operated by the Cliffs Natural Resources. This steel-framed dock juts out almost a quarter of a mile into Lake Superior.
Presque Isle Dock –
Notice the conveyor boom over the water. The boat is getting ready to unload coal which it brought up with it from the lower Great Lakes. When Finished, it will take on a load of taconite pellets and head back to the lower Great Lakes.
Taconite Pellets –
After being mined the ore is crushed and the iron separated out with either a chemical or magnetic process. The iron is combined with a binding agent (a glorified cornstarch) and rolled into small balls roughly an inch in diameter. The balls are fed through a kiln and fired by temperatures exceeding 2,000 degrees F. The result shown here are called Taconite Pellets which are loaded on the ore boats and shipped. Most of the pellets shipped from the Presque Isle dock go to Algoma Steel in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario the largest integrated steel mill. These pellets, which are roughly 70% iron, will be combined with coke and limestone at the mill to make steel.
Steel “Pocket”Loading –
The pellets come to the dock via railcars and are dumped into steel “pockets” or bins beneath the tracks. To load the boat, the chute is lowered to the open cargo hatch and a door at the bottom of the pocket opens, allowing the pellets to run into the boat shown in the picture. Loading time is variable, depending on the size of the boat and how prepared the dock is to load. Four hours is typical. Loading is the responsibility of the First Mate. It is important to load the ore in a proper sequence to avoid over stressing the boat unevenly. Each chute (or drop of pellets) is about 20 tons.