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Minerals Division

NRRI geologists and metallurgical engineers are recognized world-wide for their expertise. While the geologists focus on mapping of ferrous, non-ferrous and industrial minerals, our metallurgical engineers have innovative research experience in all aspects of mineral processing from crushing, grinding, concentration to hydrometallurgy and pyrometallurgy, with a special emphasis on iron ore processing.


Coleraine Minerals Research Laboratory

Situated near the taconite iron ore mines on the Minnesota Iron Range, NRRI’s Coleraine lab is a world renowned center for iron ore-related research. The lab was established in 1965 by U.S. Steel to assist with mining and processing research. It was transferred to NRRI in 1986. Since then, it has expanded its research portfolio into environmental and biomass energy fields, as well as broader mineral processing activities to include non-ferrous metals and industrial minerals. During recent years, the lab’s research capabilities were enhanced with mathematical modeling and computer simulation of mineral processing unit operations and induration processes.

The lab homepage has a list of current projects.

Projects at the Coleraine Minerals Lab are often in partnership with state and federal agencies, and industry. The lab currently provides services worldwide with project partners from Americas, Europe to Africa, Asia and Australia.


Economic Geology Group in Duluth

The Economic Geology Group (EGG) has broadened its scope to include particle and material characterization and by-product utilization and remediation.

The Economic Geology Group continues to characterize the geology and mineralization of ferrous, non-ferrous, and industrial minerals to assist exploration companies in identifying viable deposits in Minnesota, and conducting research on renewable, deep geothermal energy (heat-mining) for Minnesota. Learn more here.

The By-Product Use and Remediation Group is focusing its research on the applicability of taconite waste rock as road and construction aggregate, road patching compound, and microwave de-icing capabilities.

The Particle and Materials Characterization Group is currently working with the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health on an extensive study of airborne particles on the Iron Range to help determine if there are any negative health effects.

The Economic Geology Section actively partners with state and federal agencies and industry.


Precambrian Research Center

The mission of this center is to address the growing demand for well-trained field geologists by providing education and support to upper-level undergraduate students, graduate students, and professional geologists in modern methods of geological mapping and map-making in glaciated Precambrian terrains. It is a collaborative effort between University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute and Department of Geological Sciences. Visit the Precambrian Research Center Web site for more information.