UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2012
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from to .
Commission File Number: 1-8944
CLIFFS NATURAL RESOURCES INC.
(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)
(State or Other Jurisdiction of
Incorporation or Organization)
200 Public Square, Cleveland, Ohio
(Address of Principal Executive Offices)
Registrant’s Telephone Number, Including Area Code: (216) 694-5700
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of Each Class
Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered
Common Shares, par value $0.125 per share
New York Stock Exchange and Professional Segment of
NYSE Euronext Paris
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. YES ý NO ¨
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. YES ¨ NO ý
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. YES ý NO ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). YES ý NO ¨
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. ý
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer ý Accelerated filer ¨ Non-accelerated filer ¨ Smaller reporting company ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). YES ¨ NO ý
As of June 30, 2012, the aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant, based on the closing price of $49.29 per share as reported on the New York Stock Exchange — Composite Index, was $7,314,008,684 (excluded from this figure is the voting stock beneficially owned by the registrant’s officers and directors).
The number of shares outstanding of the registrant’s common shares, par value $0.125 per share, was 142,506,400 as of February 11, 2013.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s proxy statement for its annual meeting of shareholders scheduled to be held on May 7, 2013 are incorporated by reference into Part III.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Executive Officers of the Registrant
Unresolved Staff Comments
Mine Safety Disclosures
Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Selected Financial Data
Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
Controls and Procedures
Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
Principal Accountant Fees and Services
Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules
The following abbreviations or acronyms are used in the text. References in this report to the “Company,” “we,” “us,” “our” and “Cliffs” are to Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. and subsidiaries, collectively. References to “A$” or “AUD” refer to Australian currency, “C$” to Canadian currency and “$” to United States currency.
Abbreviation or acronym
Essar Steel Algoma Inc.
Anglo Ferrous Amapá Mineração Ltda. and Anglo Ferrous Logística Amapá Ltda.
Anglo American plc
Accumulated Postretirement Benefit Obligation
Alabama Public Services Commission
ArcelorMittal (as the parent company of ArcelorMittal Mines Canada, ArcelorMittal USA and ArcelorMittal Dofasco, as well as, many other subsidiaries)
ArcelorMittal USA LLC (including many of its North American affiliates, subsidiaries and representatives. References to ArcelorMittal USA comprise all such relationships unless a specific ArcelorMittal USA entity is referenced)
Accounting Standards Codification
Australian Taxation Office
Best Available Retrofit Technology
The Bloom Lake Iron Ore Mine Limited Partnership
Burlington Northern Santa Fe, LLC
Cliffs Logan County Coal LLC
Clean Water Act
Federal Water Pollution Control Act
Cliffs Chromite Far North Inc. and Cliffs Chromite Ontario Inc.
Cliffs Chromite Far North Inc.
Entity previously known as Spider Resources Inc.
Cliffs Chromite Ontario Inc.
Entity previously known as Freewest Resources Canada Inc.
Cliffs Erie LLC
Canadian National Railway Company
Cockatoo Island Joint Venture
Compensation and Organization Committee
Administrative Order by Consent
Consolidated Thompson Iron Mining Limited (now known as Cliffs Quebec Iron Mining Limited)
Cliffs Quebec Iron Mining Limited
Cross-State Air Pollution Rule
U.S. Department of Environment Protection
Nonemployee Directors’ Compensation Plan, as amended and restated 12/31/2008
Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
ArcelorMittal Dofasco Inc.
Earnings before interest and taxes
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization
Executive Management Performance Incentive Plan
Empire Iron Mining Partnership
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Earnings per share
Esperance Port Sea and Land
Enterprise Risk Management
Securities Exchange Act of 1934
Financial Accounting Standards Board
Federal Implementation Plan
Abbreviation or acronym
U.S. Federal Mine Safety and Health Act 1977
Freewest Resources Canada Inc. (now known as Cliffs Chromite Ontario Inc.)
Accounting principles generally accepted in the United States
Green house gas
Hibbing Taconite Company
International Accounting Standards Board
Amended and Restated Cliffs 2007 Incentive Equity Plan, As Amended
International Financial Reporting Standards
INR Energy, LLC
U.S. Internal Revenue Service
Ispat Inland Steel Company
Joint Ore Reserves Code
Collective term for the operating deposits at Koolyanobbing, Mount Jackson and Windarling
Lower of cost or market
London Interbank Offered Rate
LTV Steel Mining Company
Measured and Indicated
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Million British Thermal Units
Moody's Investors Service, Inc., a subsidiary of Moody's Corporation, and its successors
Minnesota Power, Inc.
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Management Performance Incentive Plan
Michigan Public Service Commission
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
Minerals Resource Rent Tax
Mine Safety and Health Administration
National Ambient Air Quality Standards
National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement
Nevada Department of Environmental Protection
Northshore Mining Company
Notice of Violation
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, authorized by the U.S. Clean Water Act
Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. 2012 Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation Plan
Natural Resource Damages
New York Stock Exchange
Oak Grove Resources, LLC
Other comprehensive income
Other postretirement benefits
Operations Performance Incentive Plan
Proven and Probable
Projected benefit obligation
Pinnacle Mining Company, LLC
PinnOak Resources, LLC
Pluton Resources Limited
Particulate matter with a diameter smaller than 10 micron
Portman Limited (now known as Cliffs Asia Pacific Iron Ore Holdings Pty Ltd)
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Potentially responsible party
Abbreviation or acronym
Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act
Ring of Fire properties
Black Thor, Black Label and Big Daddy chromite deposits
Rio Tinto Working Group
Standard & Poor's Rating Services, a division of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC, a subsidiary of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., and its successors
Stock Appreciation Rights
Substitute Rating Agency
A "nationally recognized statistical rating organization" within the meaning of Section 3 (a)(62) of the Exchange Act, as amended, selected by us (as certified by a certificate of officers confirming the decision of our Board of Directors) as a replacement agency of Moody's or S&P, or both of them, as the case may be
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Severstal North America, Inc.
Silver Bay Power
Silver Bay Power Company
State Implementation Plan
Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act
Sonoma Mine Management
Sonoma Coal Project
Spider Resources Inc. (now known as Cliffs Chromite Far North Inc.)
Separate Trading of Registered Interest and Principal of Securities
The Climate Registry
Tilden Mining Company
Total Maximum Daily Load
Total Reportable Incident Rate
Total Shareholder Return
Micrograms per litre
United Mineworkers of America
United Taconite LLC
1994 Uninsured Pensioner Mortality Table
United States of America
United States Steel Corporation
Companhia Vale do Rio Doce
Voluntary Employee Benefit Association trusts
Variable interest entity
2005 Voluntary NonQualified Deferred Compensation Plan
Wabush Mines Joint Venture
ArcelorMittal Weirton Inc.
Wisconsin Electric Power Company
Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation
Wugang Canada Resources Investment Limited, a subsidiary of Wuhan Iron and Steel (Group) Corporation
2012 Equity Plan
Cliffs Natural Resources Inc 2012 Incentive Equity Plan
Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. traces its corporate history back to 1847. Today, we are an international mining and natural resources company. A member of the S&P 500 Index, we are a major global iron ore producer and a significant producer of high- and low-volatile metallurgical coal. Driven by the core values of safety, social, environmental and capital stewardship, our Company’s associates across the globe endeavor to provide all stakeholders with operating and financial transparency. Our Company is organized through a global commercial group responsible for sales and delivery of our products and a global operations group responsible for the production of the minerals that we market. Our Company’s operations are organized according to product category and geographic location: U.S. Iron Ore, Eastern Canadian Iron Ore, Asia Pacific Iron Ore, North American Coal, Latin American Iron Ore, Ferroalloys and our Global Exploration Group.
In the United States, we operate five iron ore mines in Michigan and Minnesota, six metallurgical coal mines located in West Virginia and Alabama, and one thermal coal mine located in West Virginia. We also operate two iron ore mines in Eastern Canada. Our Asia Pacific operations consist solely of our Koolyanobbing iron ore mining complex in Western Australia as of December 31, 2012. Our 50 percent equity interest in Cockatoo Island, an iron ore mine, and our 45 percent economic interest in Sonoma, a coking and thermal coal mine, also were included in these operations through their sale dates in the third and fourth quarters, respectively. In Latin America, we have a 30 percent interest in Amapá, a Brazilian iron ore operation, the sale of which our board approved in December 2012, and, in Ontario, Canada, we have a major chromite project that advanced to the feasibility study stage of development in May of 2012. In addition, our Global Exploration Group is focused on early involvement in exploration activities to identify new world-class projects for future development or projects that add significant value to existing operations.
The key driver of our business is global demand for steelmaking raw materials in both developed and emerging economies, with China and the U.S. representing the two largest markets for our Company. In 2012, China produced approximately 709 million metric tons of crude steel, or approximately 47 percent of total global crude steel production, whereas the U.S. produced approximately 89 million metric tons of crude steel, or about 6 percent of total crude steel production. These figures each represent an approximate 4 percent and 3 percent increase in crude steel production over 2011, respectively.
Global crude steel production continued to grow in 2012, despite facing challenging economic headwinds, including a decreased year-over-year pace of economic growth and political uncertainty in China, as well as the widely reported fiscal issues in both the U.S. and European Union. These challenges resulted in a volatile pricing environment for steelmaking raw materials, which directly impacted our 2012 performance.
During 2013, we expect year-over-year steel production to rise in both the U.S. and in China. China's growth will be predicated on continued urbanization and the consequent demand for housing and durable goods. In the U.S., steel demand also is expected to increase due to a steadily recovering housing market and improving demand for automotive products. In addition, domestic steel demand should benefit from increased investment in the oil and gas industry.
We continue to expect Chinese steel production to outpace the growth in Chinese iron ore production, which will face increasing production costs due primarily to diminishing iron ore grades and rising wages. Chinese iron ore, while abundant, is a lower grade containing less than half of the equivalent iron ore than the ore supplied by Australia and Brazil.
The global price of iron ore, the primary driver of our revenues, is influenced heavily by Chinese demand. Full-year 2012 spot market prices reflected a decrease in China's economic growth, weaker demand from Europe, and global political uncertainty. Iron ore spot prices stabilized in the fourth quarter at a level well above historical averages, indicating that global iron ore demand continues to outpace global iron ore
supply. The world market benchmark that is utilized most commonly in our sales contracts is the Platts 62 percent Fe fines pricing, which has reflected this trend. The Platts 62 percent Fe fines spot price decreased 23.1 percent to an average price of $130 per ton in 2012. The spot price volatility impacts our realized revenue rates, particularly in our Eastern Canadian Iron Ore and Asia Pacific Iron Ore business segments, as the related contracts are correlated heavily to world benchmark spot pricing. However, the impact on our U.S. Iron Ore revenues is muted slightly because the pricing mechanism for our long-term contracts is mostly structured to be based on 12-month averages ending August 31, although some include established annual price collars. Additionally, our contracts often are priced partially or completely on other indices instead of world benchmark prices.
Metallurgical coal prices, which are strongly influenced by European, Japanese and Chinese demand, declined from levels reached in 2011. The decline in demand resulted in decreased low-volatile hard coking coal spot prices from an average of $292 per ton in 2011 to an average of $191 per ton in 2012. The spot price volatility impacts our realized revenue rates for our North American Coal business segment.
In 2012, capacity utilization among North American steelmaking facilities improved to an average annual rate of about 75.2 percent when compared to the average annual rate of 74.4 percent in 2011, despite diminishing in the latter half of the year. Both the automotive industry and the growth of the shale gas industry supported U.S. steel demand in 2012, providing sources of healthy demand for our products.
Through a number of strategic acquisitions executed over recent years, we have increased significantly our portfolio of assets, enhancing our production profile and growth project pipeline. Our capital allocation strategy is designed to prioritize among all potential uses of future cash flows in a manner that is most meaningful for shareholders. We plan on using future cash flows to develop organic growth projects and to reduce debt over time. Maintaining financial flexibility as commodity pricing changes throughout the business cycle is imperative to our ability to execute our strategic initiatives.
As we continue to expand our operating scale and geographic presence as an international mining and natural resources company, we have shifted our strategy from a merger and acquisition-based strategy to one that primarily focuses on organic growth and expansion initiatives. Our focus is investing in the expansion of our seaborne iron ore production capabilities driven by our belief in the constructive long-term outlook for the seaborne iron ore market. Throughout 2012, we continued to make investments in Bloom Lake, our large-scale seaborne iron ore growth project in Eastern Canada. Maximizing Bloom Lake's production capabilities represents an opportunity to create significant shareholder value. We expect the Phase II expansion at Bloom Lake to meaningfully enhance our future earnings and cash flow generation by increasing sales volume and reducing unit operating costs. Our production ramp-up has made meaningful progress, despite some of the operational challenges experienced during the year. In 2012, we also made significant progress in the construction of Bloom Lake's Phase II concentrator mill. Despite this progress, the year's volatile pricing environment drove us to delay components of Phase II's construction activities and planned startup date.
We also own additional development properties, known as Labrador Trough South located in Quebec, that potentially could allow us to leverage parts of our existing infrastructure in Eastern Canada to supply additional iron ore into the seaborne market in future years if developed.
Our chromite project, located in Northern Ontario, represents an attractive diversification opportunity for us. We advanced the project to the feasibility study stage of development in May of 2012. We expect to build further on the technical and economic evaluations developed in the prefeasibility study stage and improve the accuracy of cost estimates to assess the economic viability of the project, which work is necessary before we can advance to the execution stage of the project. In addition to this large greenfield project, our Global Exploration Group expects to achieve additional growth through early involvement in exploration and development activities by partnering with junior mining companies in various parts of the world. This potentially provides us with low-cost entry points to increase significantly our reserve base and growth production profile.
Maintaining financial flexibility and preserving our investment-grade credit profile are important elements of our strategy to resume the Phase II expansion at Bloom Lake. Our strategic emphasis on financial flexibility and our investment-grade credit ratings is driven by recent volatility in iron ore prices and the capital intensive nature of the Phase II expansion combined with the increased mining development costs we expect during construction. We believe that by reducing debt, lowering our dividend to enable investing the majority of our future cash flows in the Phase II expansion, solidifying access to our primary source of liquidity, disposing of non-core assets and refinancing near-term debt maturities, we will be in a strong position to resume the Phase II expansion and accelerate the realization of Bloom Lake's significant earnings potential.
Our Board of Directors recently approved a reduction to our quarterly cash dividend rate by 76 percent to $0.15 per share. Our Board of Directors took this step in order to improve the future cash flows available for investment in the Phase II expansion at Bloom Lake, as well as to preserve our investment-grade credit ratings.
On February 8, 2013, we received unanimous support from our lenders to suspend the total Funded Debt to EBITDA leverage ratio for all quarterly reporting periods in 2013. Within the amendment we will add temporarily a total capitalization and minimum tangible net worth covenant during these periods. We believe this proactive measure provides financial flexibility as we invest in the Phase II expansion at Bloom Lake and reinforces our commitment to maintaining an investment-grade credit rating. It also demonstrates the favorable relationships and transparency we have with our lenders.
On December 27, 2012, our Board of Directors authorized the sale of our 30 percent interest in the Amapá joint venture located in Brazil. During this process, we made a determination that the value of our Amapá interest needed to be adjusted to reflect the fair value of our investment. Subsequently, we recorded a non-cash impairment charge of $365.4 million in our December 31, 2012 financial statements. By disposing of our interest in Amapá, we eliminated the potential for incurring further losses there and enabled us to focus the investment of future cash flows on the Phase II expansion at Bloom Lake.
On December 6, 2012, we successfully raised $500.0 million dollars in public senior notes with an annual interest rate of 3.95 percent and a maturity date in 2018. We used the net proceeds to pay off $325.0 million in private placement notes, which were higher cost and maturing in 2013 and 2015. We used the remainder of the net proceeds to pay down a portion of our revolving credit facility and term loan.
On November 12, 2012, we announced that we finalized the sale of our 45 percent economic interest in the Sonoma coal mine located in Queensland, Australia to our joint venture partners. We divested our interests in the Sonoma mine along with our ownership of the affiliated wash plant. We received approximately AUD$141.0 million in net cash proceeds upon the close of the transaction.
Our Company’s primary operations are organized and managed according to product category and geographic location: U.S. Iron Ore, Eastern Canadian Iron Ore, Asia Pacific Iron Ore, North American Coal, Latin American Iron Ore, Ferroalloys and our Global Exploration Group. Latin American Iron Ore, Ferroalloys and our Global Exploration Group operating segments do not meet the criteria for reportable segments. Sonoma, which was sold in the fourth quarter of 2012, previously was reported through our Asia Pacific Coal operating segment, which did not meet the criteria for a reportable segment.
The U.S. Iron Ore and North American Coal business segments are headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. The Eastern Canadian Iron Ore business segment has headquarters in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Our Asia Pacific headquarters is located in Perth, Australia, and our Latin American headquarters is located in Santiago, Chile. In addition, the Ferroalloys and Global Exploration Group operating segments currently are managed from our Cleveland, Ohio location.
Segment information reflects our strategic business units, which are organized to meet customer requirements and global competition. We evaluate segment performance based on sales margin, which is defined as revenues less cost of goods sold and operating expenses identifiable to each segment. This measure of operating performance is an effective measurement as we focus on reducing production costs throughout our Company. Financial information about our segments, including financial information about geographic areas, is included in Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and NOTE 2 - SEGMENT REPORTING included in Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
U.S. Iron Ore
We are a major global iron ore producer, primarily selling production from U.S. Iron Ore to integrated steel companies in the U.S. and Canada. We manage and operate five iron ore mines located in Michigan and Minnesota. The U.S.-based mines currently have an annual rated capacity of 32.9 million gross tons of iron ore pellet production, representing 57 percent of total U.S. pellet production capacity. Based on our equity ownership in these mines, our share of the annual rated production capacity is currently 25.5 million gross tons, representing 44.2 percent of total U.S. annual pellet capacity.
The following chart summarizes the estimated annual pellet production capacity and percentage of total U.S. pellet production capacity for each of the respective iron ore producers as of December 31, 2012:
U.S. Iron Ore Pellet
Annual Rated Capacity Tonnage
Current Estimated Capacity
(Gross Tons in Millions)
Percent of Total U.S. Capacity
All Cliffs’ managed mines
Other U.S. mines
U.S. Steel’s Minnesota ore operations
Total U.S. Steel
ArcelorMittal USA Minorca mine
Total other U.S. mines
Total U.S. mines
Our U.S. iron ore production generally is sold pursuant to term supply agreements with various price adjustment provisions. For the year ended December 31, 2012, we produced a total of 29.5 million tons of iron ore pellets, including 22.0 million tons for our account and 7.5 million tons on behalf of steel company partners of the mines.
We produce various grades of iron ore pellets, including standard and fluxed, for use in our customers’ blast furnaces as part of the steelmaking process. The variation in grades results from the specific chemical and metallurgical properties of the ores at each mine and whether or not fluxstone is added in the process. Although the grade or grades of pellets currently delivered to each customer are based on that customer’s preferences, which depend in part on the characteristics of the customer’s blast furnace operation, in many cases our iron ore pellets can be used interchangeably. Industry demand for the various grades of iron ore pellets depends on each customer’s preferences and changes from time to time. In the event that a given mine is operating at full capacity, the terms of most of our pellet supply agreements allow some flexibility in providing our customers iron ore pellets from different mines.
Standard pellets require less processing, are generally the least costly pellets to produce and are called “standard” because no ground fluxstone, such as limestone or dolomite, is added to the iron ore concentrate before turning the concentrates into pellets. In the case of fluxed pellets, fluxstone is added to
the concentrate, which produces pellets that can perform at higher productivity levels in the customer’s specific blast furnace and will minimize the amount of fluxstone the customer may be required to add to the blast furnace.
It is not possible to produce pellets with identical physical and chemical properties from each of our mining and processing operations. The grade or grades of pellets purchased by and delivered to each customer are based on that customer’s preferences and availability.
Each of our U.S. Iron Ore mines is located near the Great Lakes. The majority of our iron ore pellets are transported via railroads to loading ports for shipment via vessel to steelmakers in North America or into the international seaborne market via the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Our U.S. Iron Ore sales are influenced by seasonal factors in the first quarter of the year as shipments and sales are restricted by the Army Corp of Engineers due to closure of the Soo Locks and the Welland Canal on the Great Lakes. During the first quarter, we continue to produce our products, but we cannot ship those products via lake vessel until the conditions on the Great Lakes are navigable, which causes our first quarter inventory levels to rise. Our limited practice of shipping product to ports on the lower Great Lakes or to customers’ facilities prior to the transfer of title has somewhat mitigated the seasonal effect on first quarter inventories and sales, as shipment from this point to the customers’ operations is not limited by weather-related shipping constraints. At December 31, 2012 and 2011, we had approximately 1.3 million and 1.2 million tons of pellets, respectively, in inventory at lower lakes or customers’ facilities.
U.S. Iron Ore Customers
Our U.S. Iron Ore revenues primarily are derived from sales of iron ore pellets to the North American integrated steel industry, consisting of five major customers. Generally, we have multi-year supply agreements with our customers. Sales volume under these agreements largely is dependent on customer requirements, and in many cases, we are the sole supplier of iron ore to the customer. Historically, each agreement has contained a base price that is adjusted annually using one or more adjustment factors. Factors that could result in a price adjustment include international iron ore prices, measures of general industrial inflation and steel prices. Additionally, certain of our supply agreements have a provision that limits the amount of price increase or decrease in any given year. In 2010, the world’s largest iron ore producers moved away from the annual international benchmark pricing mechanism referenced in certain of our customer supply agreements, resulting in a shift in the industry toward shorter-term pricing arrangements linked to the spot market. These changes caused us to assess the impact a change to the historical annual pricing mechanism would have on certain of our larger existing U.S. Iron Ore customer supply agreements and resulted in modifications to certain of these agreements for the 2011 contract year. We reached final pricing settlements, which determine the calculation for our customers' prices, with all of U.S. Iron Ore customers by the end of the 2012 contract year.
During 2012, 2011 and 2010, we sold 21.6 million, 24.2 million and 23.0 million tons of iron ore pellets, respectively, from our share of the production from our U.S. Iron Ore mines. The segment’s five largest customers together accounted for a total of 88 percent, 83 percent and 91 percent of U.S. Iron Ore product revenues for the years 2012, 2011 and 2010, respectively. Refer to Concentration of Customers below for additional information regarding our major customers.
Eastern Canadian Iron Ore
Production from our two iron ore mines located in Eastern Canada primarily is sold into the seaborne market to Asian steel producers. The Canadian-based mines currently have an annual rated capacity of 12.8 million tons of iron ore production, comprised of 7.2 million tons of iron ore concentrate and 5.6 million tons of iron ore pellets.
The following chart summarizes the estimated annual pellet and concentrate production capacity and percentage of total Eastern Canadian pellet and concentrate production capacity for each of the respective iron ore producers as of December 31, 2012:
Eastern Canadian Iron Ore Pellet and Concentrate
Annual Rated Capacity Tonnage
Current Estimated Capacity
(Gross Tons in Millions)
Percent of Total Eastern Canadian Capacity
All Cliffs’ managed mines
Other Eastern Canadian mines
Iron Ore Company of Canada
ArcelorMittal Mines Canada
Total other Eastern Canadian mines
Total Eastern Canadian mines
Our Eastern Canadian iron ore production is sold pursuant to a mix of short-term pricing arrangements that are linked to the spot market. For the year ended December 31, 2012, we produced a total of 8.5 million metric tons of iron ore pellets and concentrate.
We produce various grades of iron ore pellets, including standard and fluxed, for use in our customers’ blast furnaces as part of the steelmaking process. The grade or grades of pellets currently delivered to each customer are based on that customer’s preferences, which depend in part on the characteristics of the customer’s blast furnace operation. Industry demand for the various grades of iron ore pellets depends on each customer’s preferences and changes from time to time.
Standard pellets require less processing, are generally the least costly pellets to produce and are called “standard” because no ground fluxstone, such as limestone or dolomite, is added to the iron ore concentrate before turning the concentrates into pellets. In the case of fluxed pellets, fluxstone is added to the concentrate, which produces pellets that can perform at higher productivity levels in the customer’s specific blast furnace and will minimize the amount of fluxstone the customer may be required to add to the blast furnace. “High manganese” pellets are the pellets produced at our Wabush operation in Eastern Canada, where there is more natural manganese in the crude ore than is found at our other operations. The manganese contained in the iron ore mined at Wabush cannot be removed entirely during the concentrating process. Wabush produces manganese pellets, both in standard and fluxed grades.
We produce a concentrate product at our Bloom Lake operation in Eastern Canada that is marketed toward steel producers, predominately based in Asia, that have sintering capabilities at their steel-making operations. The Bloom Lake concentrate is blended with other sinter fines and materials at high temperatures creating a direct charge product used in a blast furnace.
Both Eastern Canadian Iron Ore mines are located near the St. Lawrence Seaway. Our iron ore products are transported via railroads to loading ports for shipment via vessel to steelmakers in North America or into the international seaborne market.
Eastern Canadian Iron Ore Customers
Our Eastern Canadian Iron Ore revenues are derived from sales of iron ore pellets and concentrate to customers in Asia, Europe and North America. Sales volume under the agreements is dependent on customer requirements. We have one major customer for iron ore concentrate and various customers, none of which are considered individually significant, for our iron ore pellets business. Pricing for our Eastern Canadian Iron Ore customers consists of a mix of short-term pricing arrangements that are linked to the spot market.
During 2012, 2011 and 2010, we sold 8.9 million, 7.4 million and 3.3 million metric tons of iron ore pellets and concentrate, respectively, from our Eastern Canadian Iron Ore mines, with the segment’s five largest customers together accounting for a total of 62 percent, 59 percent and 67 percent of Eastern Canadian Iron Ore product revenues, respectively. Refer to Concentration of Customers below for additional information regarding our major customers.
Asia Pacific Iron Ore
Our Asia Pacific Iron Ore operations are located in Western Australia and, as of December 31, 2012, consist solely of our wholly owned Koolyanobbing complex. Our 50 percent equity interest in Cockatoo Island also was included in these operations through September 2012, at which time we completed Stage 3 of mining and sold our interest.
The Koolyanobbing operations serve the Asian iron ore markets with direct-shipped fines and lump ore. The lump products are fed directly to blast furnaces, while the fines products are used as sinter feed. The variation in the two export product grades reflects the inherent chemical and physical characteristics of the ore bodies mined as well as the supply requirements of our customers. In September 2010, our Board of Directors approved a capital project at our Koolyanobbing operation, which was completed in the second quarter of 2012, and increased production capacity at Koolyanobbing to approximately 11.0 million metric tons annually. Production in 2012 was 10.7 million metric tons, compared with 8.2 million metric tons in 2011 and 8.9 million metric tons in 2010.
Koolyanobbing is a collective term for the operating deposits at Koolyanobbing, Mount Jackson and Windarling. There are approximately 60 miles separating the three mining areas. Banded iron formations host the mineralization, which is predominately hematite and goethite. Each deposit is characterized with different chemical and physical attributes and, in order to achieve customer product quality, ore in varying quantities from each deposit must be blended together.
Crushing and blending are undertaken at Koolyanobbing, where the crushing and screening plant is located. Once the blended ore has been crushed and screened into a direct lump and fines shipping product, it is transported by rail approximately 360 miles south to the Port of Esperance, via Kalgoorlie, for shipment to our customers in Asia.
Cockatoo Island is located off the Kimberley coast of Western Australia, approximately 1,200 miles north of Perth and is only accessible by sea and air. Cockatoo Island produced a single high-grade iron ore product known as Cockatoo Island Premium Fines, which is almost pure hematite and contains very few contaminants. Ore was mined below the sea level on the southern edge of the island, which was facilitated by a sea wall. Ore was crushed and screened on-site to the final product sizing and the premium fines product was loaded directly to the vessels berthed at the island. Production at Cockatoo Island halted during 2008 due to construction on Stage 3 of the seawall, resumed in the third quarter of 2010 and continued until the completion of Stage 3 mining in September 2012. During 2012, Cockatoo's annual production totaled 0.6 million metric tons of iron ore premium fines, compared with 0.7 million metric tons and 0.4 million metric tons in 2011 and 2010, respectively.
On July 31, 2012, we entered into a definitive asset sale agreement with our joint venture partner, HWE Cockatoo Pty Ltd., to sell our beneficial interest in the mining tenements and certain infrastructure of Cockatoo Island to Pluton Resources. The asset sale agreement was amended on August 31, 2012. On September 7, 2012, Pluton Resources paid, as consideration under the asset sale agreement, a nominal sum of AUD $4.00 and assumed ownership of the assets and responsibility for the environmental rehabilitation obligations and other assumed liabilities not inherently attached to the tenements acquired. With respect to those rehabilitation obligations and assumed liabilities that are inherently attached to the tenements, those obligations and liabilities will transfer automatically to, and be assumed by, Pluton Resources upon registration of each of the tenements in Pluton Resources' name. Since the Government of Western Australia Department of Finance Office of State Revenue has assessed the amount of stamp duty payable by Pluton Resources, registration of the tenements in Pluton Resources' name can occur once the requisite bonds and stamped transfer forms are lodged by Pluton Resources with the Department of Mines and Petroleum. This process is expected to be completed during the first half of 2013. As of December 31, 2012, our portion of the current
estimated cost of the rehabilitation is approximately $24 million and will be extinguished upon registration of the tenements in Pluton Resources' name. Cliffs and HWE Cockatoo Pty Ltd. completed the current stage of mining, Stage 3, at Cockatoo Island on September 30, 2012.
Asia Pacific Iron Ore Customers
Asia Pacific Iron Ore’s production is under contract with steel companies primarily in China and Japan. Generally, we have three-year term supply agreements with steel producers in China and five-year supply agreements in Japan for the sale of production from our Koolyanobbing operations. Production from Cockatoo Island was sold under short-term supply agreements with steel producers in China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan that ran to the end of the 2012 production period. The agreements with steel producers in China and Japan account for approximately 88 percent and 9 percent, respectively, of sales volume. Sales volume under the agreements partially is dependent on customer requirements. Pricing for our Asia Pacific Iron Ore customers consist of shorter-term pricing mechanisms of various durations based on the average daily spot prices, with certain pricing mechanisms that have a duration of up to a quarter. The existing contracts are due to expire at the end of 2015 for our Chinese customers and at the end of March 2013 for our Japanese customers.
During 2012, 2011 and 2010, we sold 11.7 million, 8.6 million and 9.3 million metric tons of iron ore, respectively, from our Western Australia mines. No customer comprised more than 10 percent of our consolidated sales in 2012, 2011 or 2010. Asia Pacific Iron Ore’s five largest customers accounted for approximately 44 percent of the segment’s sales in 2012, 50 percent in 2011 and 36 percent in 2010.
North American Coal
We own and operate six metallurgical coal mines located in West Virginia and Alabama and one thermal coal mine located in West Virginia that currently have a rated capacity of 9.4 million tons of production annually. In 2012, we sold a total of 6.5 million tons, compared with 4.2 million tons in 2011 and 3.3 million tons in 2010.
Metallurgical coal generally is sold at a premium over the more prevalently mined thermal coal, which generally is utilized to generate electricity. Metallurgical coal receives this premium because of its coking characteristics, which include contraction and expansion when heated, and volatility, which refers to the loss in mass when coal is heated in the absence of air. Coals with lower volatility are valued more highly than coals with a higher volatility.
Each of our North American coal mines are positioned near rail or barge lines providing access to international shipping ports, which allows for export of our coal production.
North American Coal Customers
North American Coal’s metallurgical coal production is sold to global integrated steel and coke producers in Europe, North America, China, India and South America and its thermal coal production is sold to energy companies and distributors in North America and Europe. Approximately 70 percent of our 2012 production and 79 percent of our 2011 production was committed under one-year contracts. At December 31, 2012, approximately 87 percent of our projected 2013 production has been committed under one-year contracts. North American contract negotiations are largely completed, and international contract negotiations recently have begun. The remaining tonnage primarily is pending price negotiations with our international customers, which typically is dependent on settlements of Australian pricing for metallurgical coal. International customer contracts typically are negotiated on a fiscal year basis extending from April 1 through March 31, whereas customer contracts in North America typically are negotiated on a calendar year basis extending from January 1 through December 31.
International and North American sales represented 66 percent and 34 percent, respectively, of our North American Coal sales in 2012. This compares with 54 percent and 46 percent, respectively, in 2011 and 55 percent and 45 percent, respectively, in 2010. The segment’s five largest customers together accounted for a total of 50 percent, 58 percent and 62 percent of North American Coal product revenues for the years 2012, 2011 and 2010, respectively. Refer to Concentration of Customers below for additional information regarding our major customers.
On December 27, 2012, our Board of Directors authorized the sale of our 30 percent interest in Amapá, which consists of an iron ore deposit, a 120-mile railway connecting the mine location to an existing port facility and 71 hectares of real estate on the banks of the Amazon River, reserved for a loading terminal. The remaining 70 percent of Amapá is owned by Anglo. Together with Anglo, we will be selling our respective interest in a 100 percent sale transaction to a single entity, which is expected to close during the first half of 2013.
During 2012, Amapá’s annual production totaled 6.0 million metric tons of iron ore fines, compared with 4.8 million metric tons and 4.0 million metric tons in 2011 and 2010, respectively.
On July 10, 2012, we entered into a definitive share and asset sale agreement to sell our 45 percent economic interest in the Sonoma joint venture coal mine located in Queensland, Australia. Upon completion of the transaction on November 12, 2012, we collected approximately AUD $141.0 million in net cash proceeds. The assets sold included our interests in the Sonoma mine along with our ownership of the affiliated wash plant, which were previously reported as our Asia Pacific Coal operating segment. Production and sales totaled approximately 2.8 million and 2.9 million metric tons of coal, respectively, through the same completion date. This compares with production and sales of approximately 3.5 million and 3.1 million metric tons in 2011, respectively, and production and sales of approximately 3.5 million metric tons in 2010.
Applied Technology, Research and Development
We have been a leader in iron ore mining and process technology for more than 160 years. We operated some of the first mines on Michigan’s Marquette Iron Range and pioneered early open-pit and underground mining methods. From the first application of electrical power in Michigan’s underground mines to the use of today’s sophisticated computers and global positioning satellite systems, we have been a leader in the application of new technology to the centuries-old business of mineral extraction. Today, our engineering and technical staffs are engaged in full-time technical support of our expanding global operations and improvement of existing products.
We continue to leverage our advanced technical expertise to develop and execute projects that concentrate and process low grade ores into high-quality products for international markets. With a growing international presence, state-of-the-art equipment and experienced technical professionals, we remain on the forefront of mining technology. We have an unsurpassed reputation for our pelletizing technology, delivering a world-class quality product to a broad range of sophisticated end users. We are a pioneer in the development of emerging reduction technologies, a leader in the extraction of value from challenging resources and a frontrunner in the implementation of safe and sustainable technology. Our technical experts are dedicated to excellence and deliver superior technical solutions tailored to our expanding global customer base.
Our exploration program is integral to our growth strategy. We have several projects and potential opportunities to diversify our products, expand our production volumes and develop large-scale ore bodies through early involvement in exploration activities. We achieve this by partnering with junior mining companies, which provide us low-cost entry points for potentially significant reserve additions. Our global exploration group is led by professional geologists who have the knowledge and experience to identify new projects for future development or projects that add significant value to existing operations. We spent approximately $73.3 million and $48.4 million on exploration activities in 2012 and 2011, respectively.
Concentration of Customers
We had one customer that individually accounted for more than 10 percent of our consolidated product revenue in 2012. In 2011 and 2010, we had one and three customers, respectively, that individually accounted for more than 10 percent of our consolidated product revenue. Total revenue from those customers represented approximately $923.7 million, $1.4 billion, and $1.8 billion of our total consolidated product revenue in 2012, 2011 and 2010, respectively, and is attributable to our U.S. Iron Ore, Eastern Canadian Iron Ore and North American Coal business segments. The following represents sales revenue from each of those customers as a percentage of our total consolidated product revenue, as well as the portion of product sales for U.S. Iron Ore, Eastern Canadian Iron Ore and North American Coal that is attributable to each of those customers in 2012, 2011 and 2010, respectively:
Percentage of Total
Product Revenue (1)
(1) Excluding freight and venture partners’ cost reimbursements.
(2) Includes subsidiaries of each customer.
U.S. Iron Ore
Product Revenue (1)
Iron Ore Product
(1) Excluding freight and venture partners’ cost reimbursements.
(2) Includes subsidiaries of each customer.
On April 8, 2011, we entered into an Omnibus Agreement with ArcelorMittal USA in order to settle pending arbitrations. The Omnibus Agreement, among other things, amends the Pellet Sale and Purchase Agreement dated December 31, 2002 (the “Supply Agreement”) covering the Indiana Harbor East facility. Under the terms of the settlement, the parties established specific pricing levels for 2009 and 2010 pellet sales and revised the pricing calculation for the remainder of the term of the Supply Agreement. It was also agreed that a world market-based pricing mechanism would be used beginning in 2011 and through the remainder of the contract term covering the Indiana Harbor East facility Supply Agreement. As a result of this new pricing, both parties agreed to forego future price re-openers.
Prior to the execution of the Omnibus Agreement, we executed on March 19, 2007 an umbrella agreement with ArcelorMittal USA that covered significant price and volume matters under three separate pre-existing iron ore pellet supply agreements for ArcelorMittal USA’s Cleveland and Indiana Harbor West, Indiana Harbor East and Weirton facilities. Under the umbrella agreement, ArcelorMittal USA was obligated to purchase specified minimum tonnages of iron ore pellets on an aggregate basis from 2006 through 2010.
The umbrella agreement set the minimum annual tonnage for ArcelorMittal USA through 2010, with pricing based on the facility to which the pellets were delivered. The terms of the umbrella agreement contained buy-down provisions, which permitted ArcelorMittal USA to reduce its tonnage purchase obligation each year at a specified price per ton, as well as deferral provisions, which permitted ArcelorMittal USA to defer a portion of its annual tonnage purchase obligation. In addition, ArcelorMittal USA was permitted to nominate tonnage for export out of the U.S. to any facility owned by ArcelorMittal USA, but pricing needed to be agreed to by the parties. This ability to nominate tonnage for export ceased upon the expiration of the umbrella agreement at the end of 2010, and most of our contracts have reverted back to a requirements basis.
Our pellet supply agreements with ArcelorMittal USA that were in place prior to executing the umbrella agreement have again become the basis for supplying pellets to ArcelorMittal USA, which is based on customer requirements, except for the Indiana Harbor East facility, which is based on customer excess requirements. As discussed above, the Omnibus Agreement amended the Supply Agreement covering the Indiana Harbor East facility in April 2011. The following table outlines the expiration dates for each of the respective agreements:
Cleveland Works and Indiana Harbor West facilities
Indiana Harbor East facility
We also have an agreement with ArcelorMittal's Weirton facility, expiring in 2018; however, it is a non-operational facility.
ArcelorMittal USA is a 62.3 percent equity participant in Hibbing and a 21.0 percent equity partner in Empire with limited rights and obligations. ArcelorMittal was a 28.6 percent participant in Wabush through its subsidiary Dofasco until February 1, 2010, when we acquired the remaining interest in Wabush, including Dofasco’s interest.
In 2012, 2011 and 2010, our U.S. Iron Ore pellet sales to ArcelorMittal USA were 8.6 million, 8.7 million and 9.8 million tons, respectively, and our Eastern Canadian Iron Ore pellet sales to ArcelorMittal USA were 0.7 million, 0.7 million and 0.6 million metric tons, respectively.
Our current North American Coal supply agreements with ArcelorMittal run through December 31, 2013 and are based on an annual tonnage commitment for the 12-month fiscal period. Contracts are renewed annually and priced on a quarterly basis, with pricing generally in line with Australian pricing for metallurgical coal. In 2012, 2011 and 2010, our North American Coal sales to ArcelorMittal were 0.3 million, 0.2 million and 0.8 million tons, respectively.
Algoma is a Canadian steelmaker and a subsidiary of Essar Steel Holdings Limited. We have a 15-year term supply agreement under which we are Algoma’s sole supplier of iron ore pellets through 2016. Our annual obligation is limited to 4.0 million tons with an option to supply additional pellets. Historically, pricing under the agreement with Algoma has been based on a formula that includes international pellet prices. During 2010, international pellet prices for blast furnace pellets were redefined through arbitration to use an increase in excess of 95 percent over 2009 prices for seaborne blast furnace pellets. The agreement provides that, in 2011 and 2014, either party may request a price re-opener if prices under the agreement with Algoma differ from a specified benchmark price for the year. We sold 3.2 million, 3.7 million and 3.4 million tons to Algoma in 2012, 2011 and 2010, respectively.
Under the agreement with Severstal, we supply all of the customer’s blast furnace pellet requirements for its Dearborn, Michigan facility through 2022, subject to specified minimum and maximum requirements in certain years. The terms of the agreement also require supplemental payments to be paid by the customer during the period 2009 through 2013. Pursuant to an amended term sheet entered into on June 19, 2009, the customer exercised the option to defer a portion of the 2009 monthly supplemental payment up to $22.3 million in exchange for interest payments until the deferred amount is repaid in 2013.
On March 31, 2011, Severstal sold its Sparrows Point, Warren and Wheeling facilities to The Renco Group, Inc. The sale of these facilities resulted in the decrease in our sales to this customer as a percentage of our consolidated product revenue in 2012 and 2011 when compared to 2010.
We sold 3.1 million, 3.8 million and 5.3 million tons to Severstal in 2012, 2011 and 2010, respectively.
Throughout the world, we compete with major and junior mining companies, as well as metals companies, both of which produce steelmaking raw materials, including iron ore and metallurgical coal.
In our U.S. Iron Ore business segment, we primarily sell our product to steel producers with operations in North America. In our Eastern Canadian Iron Ore business segment, we primarily provide our product to the seaborne market for Asian steel producers. We compete directly with steel companies that own interests in iron ore mines, including ArcelorMittal Mines Canada and U.S. Steel Canada Inc., and with major iron ore exporters from Australia and Brazil.
In the coal industry, our North American Coal business segment competes with many metallurgical coal producers of various sizes, including Alpha Natural Resources, Inc., Patriot Coal Corporation, CONSOL Energy Inc., Arch Coal, Inc., Walter Energy, Inc., Peabody Energy Corp. and other producers located in North America and globally.
A number of factors beyond our control affect the markets in which we sell our iron ore and coal. Continued demand for our iron ore and coal and the prices obtained by us primarily depend on the consumption patterns of the steel industry in China, the U.S. and elsewhere around the world, as well as the availability, location, cost of transportation and competing prices. Coal consumption patterns primarily are affected by demand, environmental and other governmental regulations and technological developments. The most important factors on which we compete are delivered price, coal quality characteristics such as heat value, sulfur, ash, volatile matter and moisture content and reliability of supply. Metallurgical coal, which primarily is used to make coke, a key component in the steelmaking process, generally sells at a premium over thermal coal due to its higher quality and value in the steelmaking process.
In our Asia Pacific Iron Ore business segment, we export iron ore products to China and Japan in the world seaborne trade. In the Asia Pacific marketplace, we compete with major iron ore exporters from Australia, Brazil and India. These include Anglo, BHP Billiton, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd., Rio Tinto plc and Vale, among others.
Competition in steelmaking raw materials is predicated upon the usual competitive factors of price, availability of supply, product performance, service and transportation cost to the consumer of the raw materials.
As the global steel industry continues to consolidate, a major focus of the consolidation is on the continued life of the integrated steel industry’s raw steelmaking operations, including blast furnaces and basic oxygen furnaces that produce raw steel.
Our mining and exploration activities are subject to various laws and regulations governing the protection of the environment. We conduct our operations in a manner that is protective of public health and the environment and believe our operations are in compliance with applicable laws and regulations in all material respects.
Environmental issues and their management continued to be an important focus at each of our operations throughout 2012. In the construction of our facilities and in their operation, substantial costs have been incurred and will continue to be incurred to avoid undue effect on the environment. Our capital expenditures relating to environmental matters totaled approximately $31 million, $36 million and $21 million, in 2012, 2011 and 2010, respectively. It is estimated that capital expenditures for environmental improvements will total approximately $87 million in 2013. Estimated expenditures in 2013 are comprised of approximately $60 million for projects at our Eastern Canadian Iron Ore operations, $19 million for projects in our U.S. Iron Ore operations and $8 million in our North American Coal operations for various water treatment, air quality, (dust) control, selenium management, tailings management and other miscellaneous environmental projects.
Various governmental bodies continually are promulgating new or amended laws and regulations that affect our Company, our customers and our suppliers in many areas, including waste discharge and disposal, the classification of materials and products, air and water discharges and many other environmental, health and safety matters. Although we believe that our environmental policies and practices are sound and do not expect that the application of any current laws or regulations reasonably would be expected to result in a material adverse effect on our business or financial condition, we cannot predict the collective adverse impact of the expanding body of laws and regulations.
Specifically, there are several notable proposed or potential rulemakings or activities that could potentially have a material adverse impact on our facilities in the future depending on their ultimate outcome: Climate Change and GHG Regulation, Regional Haze, NO2 and SO2 National Ambient Air Quality Standards, Cross State Air Pollution Rule, Increased Administrative and Legislative Initiatives Related to Coal Mining Activities, Mercury TMDL and Minnesota Taconite Mercury Reduction Strategy, and Selenium Discharge Regulation.
Climate Change and GHG Regulation
With the complexities and uncertainties associated with the U.S. and global navigation of the climate change issue as a whole, one of our significant risks for the future is mandatory carbon legislation. Policymakers are in the design process of carbon regulation at the state, regional, national and international levels. The current regulatory patchwork of carbon compliance schemes presents a challenge for multi-facility entities to identify their near-term risks. Amplifying the uncertainty, the dynamic forward outlook for carbon regulation presents a challenge to large industrial companies to assess the long-term net impacts of carbon compliance costs on their operations. Our exposure on this issue includes both the direct and indirect financial risks associated with the regulation of GHG emissions, as well as potential physical risks associated with climate change. We are continuing to review the physical risks related to climate change utilizing a formal risk management process.
Internationally, mechanisms to reduce emissions are being implemented in various countries, with differing designs and stringency, according to resources, economic structure and politics. We expect that momentum to extend carbon regulation following the expiration in 2012 of the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol will continue. Australia, Canada and Brazil are all signatories to the Kyoto Protocol. As such, our facilities in each of these countries are impacted by the Kyoto Protocol, but in varying degrees according to the mechanisms each country establishes for compliance and each country’s commitment to reducing emissions. Australia and Canada are considered Annex 1 countries, meaning that they are obligated to reduce their emissions under the Protocol. In contrast, Brazil is not an Annex 1 country and is, therefore, not currently obligated to reduce its GHG emissions. The impact of the Kyoto Protocol on our Canadian operations recently has been brought into question by the December 2011 announcement by the Canadian
Environment Minister that Canada would withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol and, furthermore, that Canada would repeal its Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act.
On December 15, 2011, Quebec issued final GHG cap-and-trade regulation based on the Western Climate Initiative guidelines that become effective January 1, 2013. The Quebec GHG emission reduction objective is to reduce GHG emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 (Phase 1). The mining and utility sectors, among others, are sectors included in the cap-and-trade program. The Quebec framework has provisions for “free” allocations for our sector, which will minimize the impact to our business. The estimated direct impact to our Eastern Canadian Iron Ore operations begin at $1 million per year in 2013 and escalate to an estimated $3 million per year in 2020 (Phase 1 of the GHG cap-and-trade program). Additional indirect “pass-through” financial impacts related to energy rates and transportation fuel consumption are estimated to increase our exposure; however, the overall impact is not anticipated to have a material impact on our business.
In the U.S., federal carbon regulation potentially presents a significantly greater impact to our operations. To date, the U.S. has not implemented regulated carbon constraints. In the absence of comprehensive federal carbon regulation, numerous state and regional regulatory initiatives are under development or are becoming effective, thereby creating a disjointed approach to carbon control.
Furthermore, on September 22, 2009, the EPA issued a final GHG Reporting Rule requiring the mandatory reporting of annual GHG emissions from our U.S. iron and coal mining facilities. Sources covered by the rule were required to begin collecting emission data by no later than January 1, 2010. The first annual emission report was submitted to the EPA in September 2011 and will be reported annually. As a founding member of TCR, we have reported our emissions to TCR and published GHG emission information within our Sustainability Reports, following the reporting protocols established by the Global Reporting Initiative.
As an energy-intensive business, our GHG emissions inventory captures a broad range of emissions sources, such as iron ore furnaces and kilns, coal thermal driers, diesel mining equipment and a wholly owned power generation plant, among others. As such, our most significant regulatory risks are: (1) the costs associated with on-site emissions levels and (2) the costs passed through to us from power generators and distillate fuel suppliers.
We believe our exposure can be reduced substantially by numerous factors, including currently contemplated regulatory flexibility mechanisms, such as allowance allocations, fixed process emissions exemptions, offsets and international provisions; emissions reduction opportunities, including energy efficiency, biofuels, fuel flexibility and methane reduction; and business opportunities associated with new products and technology.
We have worked proactively to develop a comprehensive, enterprise-wide GHG management strategy aimed at considering all significant aspects associated with GHG initiatives to plan effectively for and manage climate change issues, including the risks and opportunities as they relate to the environment, stakeholders, including shareholders and the public, legislative and regulatory developments, operations, products and markets.
In June 2005, the EPA finalized amendments to its regional haze rules. The rules require states to establish goals and emission reduction strategies for improving visibility in all Class I national parks and wilderness areas. Among the states with Class I areas are Michigan, Minnesota, Alabama and West Virginia in which we currently own and manage mining operations. The first phase of the regional haze rule (2008-2018) requires analysis and installation of BART on eligible emission sources and incorporation of BART and associated emission limits into SIPs.
Minnesota submitted a regional haze SIP to EPA on December 30, 2009 and a supplement to the SIP on May 8, 2012. Michigan submitted its regional haze SIP to EPA on November 5, 2010. During the second quarter of 2012, EPA also sent information requests to all taconite facilities requesting information on SO2 and NOx emissions and control technology assessments. On June 12, 2012, the EPA approved revisions to the
Minnesota SIP addressing regional haze, but also announced it was deferring action on emission limitations that Minnesota intended to represent BART for taconite facilities. On August 15, 2012, EPA proposed to disapprove the Michigan and Minnesota taconite SIP BART determinations and simultaneously proposed a separate FIP for taconite facilities. During the comment period for the proposed FIP rule, the taconite industry and other stakeholders developed detailed comments and shared information to address furnace specific case-by-case circumstances. On January 15, 2013, the EPA signed the final FIP for taconite facilities. The final FIP reflects progress toward a more technically and economically feasible regional haze implementation plan and eliminates the need for investing in additional SO2 emission control equipment. However, we remain concerned about the technical and economic feasibility of EPA's BART determination for NOx emissions and are conducting detailed engineering analysis to determine the impact of the regulations on each unique iron ore indurating furnace affected by this rule. The results of this analysis will guide further dialogue with the EPA regarding our implementation of the regional haze FIP requirements.
NO2 and SO2 National Ambient Air Quality Standards
During the first half of 2010, the EPA promulgated rules that require states to use a combination of air quality monitoring and computer modeling to determine areas of each state that are in attainment with new NO2 and SO2 standards (attainment areas) and those areas that are not in attainment with such standards (nonattainment areas). During the third quarter of 2011, the EPA issued guidance to the regulated community on conducting refined air quality dispersion modeling and implementing the new NO2 and SO2 standards. The NO2 and SO2 standards have been challenged by various large industry groups. Accordingly, at this time, we are unable to predict the final impact of these standards. During June 2011, our Minnesota iron ore mining operations received a request from the MPCA to develop modeling and compliance plans and timelines by which each facility will demonstrate compliance with present and proposed NAAQS as well as regional haze requirements outlined in the State SIP. Compliance must be achieved by June 30, 2017. We continue to assess options by which to achieve compliance.
Cross State Air Pollution Rule
On July 6, 2011, the EPA promulgated the CSAPR, which was intended to be an emissions trading rule for SO2 and NOx. Northshore's Silver Bay Power Plant would have been subject to this rule, and Minnesota elected to follow EPA guidance allowing CSAPR to stand as BART. CSAPR was vacated by the D.C. Circuit Court during the third quarter of 2012. Although the CSAPR requirements were vacated, this will result in Silver Bay Power Unit 2 again being subject to a site-specific BART determination under the regional haze rule that, in 2008, included application of control equipment to reduce SO2 and NOx. Minnesota has yet to re-evaluate BART determinations for Minnesota facilities that would have been subject to CSAPR, but emission reductions of some form are likely. We presently are re-evaluating compliance options in light of this rule change.
Increased Administrative and Legislative Initiatives Related to Coal Mining Activities
Although the focus of significantly increased government activity related to coal mining in the U.S. is generally targeted at eliminating or minimizing the adverse environmental impacts of mountaintop coal mining practices, these initiatives have the potential to impact all types of coal operations, including subsurface longwall mining typically deployed for recovering metallurgical coal. Specifically, the coordinated efforts by various federal agencies to minimize adverse environmental consequences of mountaintop mining have effectively stopped issuance of new permits required by most mining projects in Appalachia. Due to the developing nature of these initiatives and their potential to disrupt even routine necessary mining and water permit practices in the coal industry, we are unable to predict whether these initiatives could have a material effect on our coal operations in the future. We are working closely with our trade associations to monitor the various rulemaking developments in an effort to enable us to develop viable strategies to minimize the financial impact to the business.
Mercury TMDL and Minnesota Taconite Mercury Reduction Strategy
TMDL regulations are contained in the Clean Water Act. As a part of Minnesota's Mercury TMDL Implementation Plan, in cooperation with the MPCA, the taconite industry developed a Taconite Mercury Reduction Strategy and signed a voluntary agreement to effectuate its terms. The strategy includes a 75 percent target reduction of mercury air emissions from Minnesota pellet plants collectively by 2025. It recognizes that mercury emission control technology currently does not exist and will be pursued through a research effort. Any developed technology must be economically feasible, must not impact pellet quality, and must not cause excessive corrosion in pellet furnaces, associated duct work and existing wet scrubbers on the furnaces.
According to the voluntary agreement, the mines proceeded with medium- and long-term testing of possible technologies. In 2010 initial testing will be completed on one straight-grate and one grate-kiln furnace among the mines. If technically and economically feasible, developed mercury emission control technology must then be installed on taconite furnaces by 2025. For us, the requirements in the voluntary agreement will apply to the United Taconite and Hibbing facilities. At this time, we are unable to predict the potential impacts of the Taconite Mercury Reduction Strategy. However, a number of research projects were conducted during 2011-2012 as the industry continues to assess options for reduction. Injection of powdered activated carbon into furnace off-gasses for mercury capture in the wet scrubbers showed positive results and will be tested further during 2013.
Selenium Discharge Regulation
In West Virginia, selenium discharge limits became effective on April 5, 2010. Our North American Coal segment has several permitted outfalls that have, or are expected to have, selenium limits. We successfully have implemented solutions that manage the discharge of selenium in several of our outfalls and are optimistic regarding strategies being developed for the remaining outfalls. While not all of our strategies are in place, we do not believe this issue is likely to result in material impacts to North American Coal.
In Michigan, the MDEQ issued renewed NPDES permits for our Empire mine in December 2011 and for our Tilden mine in 2012. Our Michigan operations at Empire and Tilden are developing compliance strategies to meet new selenium process water limits according to the permit conditions. Empire and Tilden submitted the Selenium Storm Water Management Plan to the MDEQ on December 22, 2011. The Selenium Storm Water Management Plan outlines the activities that will be undertaken from 2011 to 2015 to address selenium in storm water discharges from our Michigan operations. The activities include the evaluation of structural controls, non-structural controls, site specific standards and evaluation of potential impacts to groundwater. Preliminary selenium treatability results from studies in 2011 were positive for the utilization of treatment systems. A pilot treatment system was installed during the third quarter of 2012 with good initial results, but evaluation work continues. An initial estimate for full scale implementation of stormwater treatment systems and structural selenium controls at both facilities is $35 million and is expected to be implemented over the next five-year period.
Tilden's NPDES permit renewal became effective on November 1, 2012. The permit contains a compliance schedule for selenium with a limit of five µg/l that will be effective November 1, 2017 at Tilden's Gribben Tailings Basin outfall. Preliminary engineering for end-of-pipe solutions indicates capital costs could range from $23 million to $103 million with annual operating and maintenance costs of $10 million. Tilden has initiated a prudent and feasible alternatives analysis to further define solutions and cost estimates with the requirement of completing pilot testing by May 1, 2015.
Clean Water Act Section 404
In the U.S., Section 404 of the Clean Water Act requires permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct mines and associated projects, such as freshwater impoundments and refuse disposal fills, in areas that affect jurisdictional waters. Any coal mining activity requiring both a Section 404 permit and a SMCRA permit in the Appalachian region currently undergoes an enhanced review from the Army Corps of Engineers, the EPA and the Office of Surface Mining. With the acquisition of the CLCC properties during the third quarter of 2010, we obtained a development surface coal mine project, the Toney Fork No. 3, which is subject to the enhanced review process adopted by federal agencies in 2009 for Section 404 permitting. There currently are two proposed valley fills in the Toney Fork No. 3 plan; therefore, an extensive review process can be expected. We expect on-going negotiations with the EPA will conclude with the issuance of the required Section 404 permit well before construction of the mine is scheduled. The other development surface mine project acquired through the acquisition of CLCC, Toney Fork West, does not require Section 404 permitting. The renewal date for the existing Toney Fork No. 2 permit is May 28, 2015.
For additional information on our environmental matters, refer to Item 3. Legal Proceedings and NOTE 12 - ENVIRONMENTAL AND MINE CLOSURE OBLIGATIONS in Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
WE Energies is the sole supplier of electric power to our Empire and Tilden mines. It currently provides 300 megawatts of electricity to Empire and Tilden at rates that are regulated by the MPSC. The Empire and Tilden mines are subject to changes in WE Energies’ rates, such as base interim rate changes that WE Energies may self-implement and final rate changes that are approved by the MPSC in response to applications filed by WE Energies. These procedures have resulted in several rate increases since 2008, when Empire and Tilden’s special contracts for electric service with WE Energies expired. Additionally, Empire and Tilden are subject to frequent changes in WE Energies’ power supply adjustment factor.
Electric power for the Hibbing and United Taconite mines is supplied by Minnesota Power. On September 16, 2008, the mines finalized agreements with terms from November 1, 2008 through December 31, 2015. The agreements were approved by the MPUC in 2009.
Silver Bay Power Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of ours, with a 115 megawatt power plant, provides the majority of Northshore’s energy requirements. Silver Bay Power has an interconnection agreement with Minnesota Power for backup power when excess generation is necessary.
Wabush has a 20-year agreement with Newfoundland Power, which continues until December 31, 2014. This agreement allows an interchange of water rights in return for the power needs for Wabush’s mining operations. The Wabush pelletizing operations and Bloom Lake operations in Quebec are served by Quebec Hydro, which provides power under non-negotiated rates that are set on an annual basis.
The Oak Grove mine and Concord Preparation Plant are supplied electrical power by Alabama Power under a five-year contract that continues in effect until terminated by either party providing written notice to the other in accordance with applicable rules, regulations and rate schedules. Rates of the contract are subject to change during the term of the contract as regulated by the APSC.
Electrical power to the Pinnacle Complex is supplied by the Appalachian Power Company under two contracts. The Indian Creek contract was revised in 2008 to include service under Appalachian Power’s lower cost Large Capacity Power Primary Schedule. On January 15, 2010, we entered into an amended agreement with Appalachian Power related to the Indian Creek contract that resulted in Pinnacle receiving reduced electrical power rates under the American Electric Power’s Large Capacity Power Transmission Code 389 tariff for a contract capacity of 15 megawatts. The Pinnacle Creek contract was not affected. Both contracts
specify the applicable rate schedule, minimum monthly charge and power capacity furnished. Rates, terms and conditions of the contracts are subject to the approval of the Public Service Commission of West Virginia.
CLCC is also supplied electrical power by Appalachian Power under two contracts. Both of these contracts are under Large Capacity Power Subtrans, Code 388.
Koolyanobbing and its associated satellite mines draw power from independent diesel-fueled power stations and generators. Diesel power generation capacity has been installed at the Koolyanobbing operations.
We have a long-term contract providing for the transport of natural gas on the Northern Natural Gas Pipeline for our U.S. Iron Ore operations. Our Pinnacle and Oak Grove Coal operations also use natural gas, but purchase it through their local regulated utility, Mountaineer Gas and Alabama Gas Co., respectively. At U.S. Iron Ore, the Empire and Tilden mines have the capability of burning natural gas, coal or, to a lesser extent, oil. The Hibbing and Northshore mines have the capability to burn natural gas and oil. The United Taconite mine has the ability to burn coal, natural gas and petroleum coke. Although all of the U.S. iron ore mines have the capability of burning natural gas, the pelletizing operations for the U.S. iron ore mines utilize alternate fuels when practicable. At Eastern Canadian Iron Ore, the Wabush mine has the capability to burn bunker fuel, stove and furnace oils and coke breeze and the Bloom Lake mine has the ability to burn stove and furnace oils. Our Eastern Canadian Iron Ore process fuel is primarily supplied by Imperial Oil, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil, through long-term contracts.
As of December 31, 2012, we had a total of 7,589 employees.
Iron Ore (1)
Iron Ore (3)
(1) Includes our employees and the employees of the U.S. Iron Ore joint ventures.
(2) Includes the employees in our Latin American Iron Ore, Ferroalloys operating segments and our Global Exploration Group with the exception of contracted mining employees.
(3) Excludes contracted mining employees.
As of December 31, 2012, approximately 85.8 percent of our U.S. Iron Ore hourly employees, approximately 57.4 percent of our Eastern Canadian Iron Ore hourly employees and approximately 67.0 percent of our North American Coal hourly employees were covered by collective bargaining agreements. In addition, our hourly employees at Bloom Lake, which is part of our Eastern Canadian Iron Ore operating segment, recently recognized the USW as their representative and the Company is in process of negotiating an initial collective bargaining agreement with the USW that will cover those employees.
Hourly employees at our Michigan and Minnesota iron ore mining operations, excluding Northshore, are represented by the USW. We entered into a 37-month labor contract, effective September 1, 2012 through September 30, 2015, that covers approximately 2,400 USW-represented workers at our Empire and Tilden mines in Michigan, and our United Taconite and Hibbing mines in Minnesota. Employees at our Northshore operations are not represented by a union and are not, therefore, covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
Hourly employees at our Eastern Canadian Iron Ore operations, excluding Bloom Lake, also are represented by the USW. The five-year labor agreement for our Wabush mine, effective March 1, 2009 through February 28, 2014, provides for a 15 percent increase in labor costs over the term of the agreement, inclusive
of benefits. As noted above, the Company is in the process of negotiating a new agreement with the USW that will cover hourly employees at Bloom Lake.
Hourly employees at our Lake Superior and Ishpeming railroads are represented by seven unions covering approximately 120 employees. These employees negotiate under the Railway Labor Act and the moratorium on bargaining expired on December 31, 2009. We have currently reached labor agreements with six of these unions and we are continuing to renegotiate with the remaining union. Bargaining with these unions normally proceeds long after the moratorium on bargaining expires. Work stoppages cannot occur until the parties have mediated under the Railway Labor Act and that process has not occurred.
Hourly production and maintenance employees at our Pinnacle Complex and Oak Grove mines are represented by the UMWA. We entered into collective bargaining agreements with the UMWA effective July 1, 2011 that expire on December 31, 2016. Those collective bargaining agreements are identical in all material respects to the NBCWA of 2011 between the UMWA and the Bituminous Coal Operators’ Association. Employees at our CLCC operations are not represented by a union and are not, therefore, covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
Employees at our Asia Pacific Iron Ore, Corporate & Support Services, Latin American Iron Ore, Ferroalloys operations and our Global Exploration Group are not represented under collective bargaining agreements.
Safety is our primary core value as we continue towards a zero incident culture at our operating facilities. We continuously monitor, track and measure our safety performance and make changes where necessary. Best practices are shared globally to ensure each mine site can embed our policies, procedures and learnings for enhanced workplace safety.
We measure progress toward achieving our objective against regularly established benchmarks, including measuring company-wide TRIR. During 2012, our TRIR (including contractors) was 2.48 per 200,000 man-hours worked.
Refer to Exhibit 95 Mine Safety Disclosures for mine safety information required in accordance with Section 1503(a) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection.
Our headquarters are located at 200 Public Square, Cleveland, Ohio 44114-2315, and our telephone number is (216) 694-5700. We are subject to the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act and its rules and regulations. The Exchange Act requires us to file reports, proxy statements and other information with the SEC. Copies of these reports and other information can be read and copied at:
SEC Public Reference Room
100 F Street N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20549
Information on the operation of the Public Reference Room may be obtained by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330.
The SEC maintains a website that contains reports, proxy statements and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC. These materials may be obtained electronically by accessing the SEC’s home page at www.sec.gov.
We use our website, www.cliffsnaturalresources.com, as a channel for routine distribution of important information, including news releases, investor presentations and financial information. We also make available, free of charge on our website, our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and amendments to these reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act, as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file these documents with, or
furnish them to, the SEC. In addition, our website allows investors and other interested persons to sign up to receive automatic email alerts when we post news releases and financial information on our website.
We also make available, free of charge on our website, the charters of the Audit Committee, Governance and Nominating Committee, Compensation and Organization Committee and Strategy and Sustainability Committee as well as the Corporate Governance Guidelines and the Code of Business Conduct & Ethics adopted by our Board of Directors. These documents are available through our investor relations page on our website at ir.cliffsnaturalresources.com. The SEC filings are available by selecting “Financial Information” and then “SEC Filings,” material and corporate governance is available by selecting “Corporate Governance” for the Board Committee Charters, operational governance guidelines and the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics.
References to our website or the SEC’s website do not constitute incorporation by reference of the information contained on such websites, and such information is not part of this Form 10-K.
Copies of the above-referenced information are also available, free of charge, by calling (216) 694-5700 or upon written request to:
Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.
200 Public Square
Cleveland, OH 44114-2315
EXECUTIVE OFFICERS OF THE REGISTRANT
Following are the names, ages and positions of the executive officers of the Company as of February 12, 2013. Unless otherwise noted, all positions indicated are or were held with Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.
Joseph A. Carrabba
Chairman of the Board (May 2007-present); Chief Executive Officer (Sept. 2006 to present); and President (May 2005-present)
Executive Vice President (2008-present); President, Global Operations (Oct. 2012-present); Chief Financial Officer (2006 to Oct. 2012); Executive Vice President, Finance and Administration (July 2012-Oct 2012); Senior Vice President (Dec. 2006-2007); and Treasurer (Dec. 2006-2007)
Donald J. Gallagher
Executive Vice President (2006-present); President - Global Commercial (Jan. 2011-present); President, North American Business Unit (Nov. 2007-Jan. 2011); President, North American Iron Ore (July 2006-Nov. 2007); Chief Financial Officer (2003-2006); Treasurer (2003-2006); and Senior Vice President (2003-2005)
P. Kelly Tompkins
Executive Vice President, Legal, Government Affairs and Sustainability (May 2010-present); Chief Legal Officer (Jan. 2011-Jan. 2013); President, Cliffs China (Oct. 2012-present); and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of RPM International Inc., a specialty coatings and sealants manufacturer (June 2008-May 2010)
David B. Blake
Senior Vice President, Operations, North American Iron Ore (March 2009-present); Vice President, Operations, North American Iron Ore (Nov. 2007-March 2009); and General Manager, Michigan Operations (Nov. 2005 to Nov. 2007)
William C. Boor
Senior Vice President, Global Ferroalloys (Jan. 2011-present); President - Ferroalloys (May 2010-Jan. 2011); and Senior Vice President, Business Development (May 2007-May 2010)
Terrence R. Mee
Senior Vice President, Global Iron Ore and Metallic Sales (Jan. 2011-present); Vice President, Sales and Transportation (Sept. 2007-Jan. 2011); and General Manager-Sales and Traffic (Aug. 2003-Sept. 2007)
Senior Vice President, Human Resources (Jan. 2011-present); Chief Human Resource Officer (Oct. 2012-present); Vice President, Human Resources (Sept. 2010-Jan. 2011); Partner at Laurus Strategies, human resources consulting company (Feb. 2009-Sept. 2010); and Vice President Human Resources-Americas for ArcelorMittal, a steel company engaged in the production and marketing of finished and semi-finished steel and stainless steel products (March 2006-Oct. 2008)
Terrance M. Paradie
Senior Vice President (Jan. 2011-present); Chief Financial Officer (Oct. 2012-present); Assistant General Manager-Michigan Operations (March 2012-Sept. 2012); Corporate Controller (Oct. 2007-March 2012); Chief Accounting Officer (July 2009-March 2012); and Vice President (Oct. 2007-Jan. 2011)
Steven M. Raguz
Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Communications & Chief Strategy Officer (Oct. 2012-present); Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy (Jan. 2011-Oct. 2012); Treasurer (Oct. 2007-Oct. 2012); Vice President, Corporate Strategy (Aug. 2010-Jan. 2011); Vice President, Corporate Planning & Analysis (Oct. 2007-Aug. 2010); and Vice President, Financial Planning and Strategic Analysis (March 2007-Oct. 2007)
Senior Vice President, Global Business Development (Jan. 2011-present); Vice President, Latin American Operations (Sept. 2009-Jan. 2011); General Manager-Business Development (Oct. 2006-Sept. 2009); and Vice President and General Manager of Tilden Mine, Empire Mine, and Lake Superior and Ishpeming railroad (April 2004-Sept. 2006)
Duke D. Vetor
Senior Vice President, Global Operations Services (July 2011-present); Senior Vice President, North American Coal (Nov. 2007-July 2011); Vice President-Operations-North American Iron Ore (July 2006-Nov. 2007); and General Manager of Safety and Operations Improvement (Dec. 2005-July 2006)
Senior Vice President, Global Coal (July 2011-present); and Vice President and General Manager of Mid-West Operations for Patriot Coal Corp., a producer of thermal and metallurgical coal (2007-June 2011)
Carolyn E. Cheverine
Vice President and General Counsel (Jan. 2013-present); Secretary (Oct. 2011-present); General Counsel-Corporate Affairs (Oct. 2011-Jan. 2013); and Senior Counsel of The Lubrizol Corporation, a lubricant additives and specialty chemicals manufacturer (2002-Oct. 2011)
Timothy K. Flanagan
Vice President, Corporate Controller & Chief Accounting Officer (March 2012-present); Assistant Controller (Feb. 2010-March 2012); Director, Internal Audit (April 2008-Feb. 2010); and Senior Manager for Protiviti, a global consulting firm specializing in business and risk consulting and internal audit (May 2003-April 2008)
All executive officers serve at the pleasure of the Board. There are no arrangements or understandings between any executive officer and any other person pursuant to which an executive officer was selected to be an officer of the Company. There is no family relationship between any of our executive officers, or between any of our executive officers and any of our directors.
An investment in our common shares or other securities is subject to risk inherent to our business and our industry. Described below are certain risks and uncertainties, the occurrences of which could have a material adverse effect on us. Before making an investment decision, you should consider carefully all of the risks described below together with the other information included in this report. The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones we face. Although we have significant risk management policies, practices and procedures aimed to mitigate these risks, uncertainties may nevertheless impair our business operation. This report is qualified in its entirety by these factors.
Our ERM function provides a framework for management's consideration of risk when making strategic, financial, operational and/or project decisions. The framework is based on ISO 31000, an internationally recognized risk management standard. Management uses a consistent methodology to identify and assess risks, determine and implement risk mitigation actions, and monitor and communicate information about the Company's key risks. Through these processes, we have identified six categories of risk that we are subject to: (I) economic and market, (II) regulatory, (III) financial, (IV) operational, (V) development and sustainability, and (VI) human capital. The following risk factors are presented according to these key risk categories.
ECONOMIC AND MARKET RISKS
The stability of commodity prices, namely iron ore and coal, affects our ability to generate revenue, maintain stable cash flow and to fund our operations, including growth and expansion.
As a mining company, our ability to generate revenue and, in turn, profitability is dependent upon the price of the commodities that we sell to our customers, namely iron ore and coal. The commodity prices of iron ore and coal have experienced significant fluctuations over the last two years. Our results during 2011 were driven by increased steel production, higher demand and rising prices. By comparison, during 2012, steel inventories were high, international demand for steel, particularly in China, the world's largest producer of steel, was abating and, as a result, demand and prices for iron ore declined. For example, during the third quarter compared to the second quarter of 2012, the Platts 62 percent Fe fines price declined 19.9 percent to an average of $113 per ton for the three months ended September 30, 2012 and the Platts pricing decreased 23.1 percent to an average of $130 per ton for the 12 months ended December 31, 2012. This trend may continue and our earnings, therefore, may fluctuate with the prices of the commodities we sell. To the extent that the prices of these commodities significantly decline, for an extended period of time, it could affect adversely our ability to generate revenues, which, in turn, could affect our financial condition, cash flow and results of operations. Reduced revenues from lower commodity prices also could affect our ability to fund growth and expansion projects. These factors could have a material adverse affect on us.
Uncertainty or weaknesses in global economic conditions and reduced economic growth in China could affect adversely our business.
The world prices of iron ore and coal are influenced strongly by international demand and global economic conditions. Uncertainties or weaknesses in global economic conditions, including the ongoing sovereign debt crisis in Europe and the U.S. debt ceiling, could affect adversely our business and negatively impact our financial results. In addition, the current level of international demand for raw materials used in steel production is driven largely by industrial growth in China. If the economic growth rate in China slows for an extended period of time, or if another global economic downturn were to occur, we would likely see decreased demand for our products and decreased prices, resulting in lower revenue levels and decreasing margins. We are not able to predict whether the global economic conditions will continue or worsen and the impact it may have on our operations and the industry in general going forward.
Capacity expansions within the mining industry could lead to lower global iron ore and coal prices, impacting our profitability.
During 2012, continued global growth of iron ore and coal demand, particularly from China, resulted in the major iron ore and metallurgical coal suppliers announcing plans to increase their production capacity. We expect the supply of both iron ore and metallurgical coal to increase due to these expansions, which, based on those suppliers' project-completion estimates, will be an upward trend that will continue through 2016. In the current iron ore and coal markets, an increase in our competitors' capacity could result in excess supply of these commodities, resulting in downward pressure on prices. This decrease in pricing would adversely impact our sales, margins and profitability.
If steelmakers use methods other than blast furnace production to produce steel or if their blast furnaces shut down or otherwise reduce production, the demand for our iron ore and coal products may decrease.
Demand for our iron ore and coal products is determined by the operating rates for the blast furnaces of steel companies. However, not all finished steel is produced by blast furnaces; finished steel also may be produced by other methods that do not require iron ore products, such as scrap steel. North American steel producers also can produce steel using imported iron ore or semi-finished steel products, which eliminates the need for domestic iron ore. Environmental restrictions on the use of blast furnaces also may reduce our customers' use of their blast furnaces. Maintenance of blast furnaces may require substantial capital expenditures. Our customers may choose not to maintain, or may not have the resources necessary to maintain, their blast furnaces. If our customers use methods to produce steel that do not use iron ore and coal products, demand for our iron ore and coal products will decrease, which would affect adversely our sales, margins and profitability.
Due to economic conditions and volatility in commodity prices, our customers could approach us about our supply agreements. Modifications to our supply agreements could potentially be made due to such volatility, which could impact adversely our sales, margins, profitability and cash flows.
Although we have contractual commitments for sales in our U.S. Iron Ore and Eastern Canadian Iron Ore business for 2013 and beyond, the uncertainty in global economic conditions may adversely impact the ability of our customers to meet their obligations. As a result of such market volatility, our customers could approach us about modifying our supply agreements. Any modifications to our supply agreements could adversely impact our sales, margins, profitability and cash flows. These discussions or potential actions by our customers could also result in contractual disputes, which could ultimately require arbitration or litigation, either of which could be time consuming and costly. Any such disputes could impact adversely our sales, margins, profitability and cash flows.
We are subject to extensive governmental regulation, which imposes, and will continue to impose, significant costs and liabilities on us. Future laws and regulation or the manner in which they are interpreted and enforced could increase these costs and liabilities or limit our ability to produce iron ore and coal products.
New laws or regulations, or changes in existing laws or regulations, or the manner of their interpretation or enforcement, could increase our cost of doing business and restrict our ability to operate our business or execute our strategies. This includes, among other things, the possible taxation under U.S. law of certain income from foreign operations, compliance costs and enforcement under the Dodd-Frank Act, and costs associated with complying with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Healthcare and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 and the regulations promulgated thereunder. In addition, we are subject to various federal, provincial, state and local laws and regulations in each jurisdiction in which we have operations for employee health and safety, air quality, water pollution, plant and wildlife protection, reclamation and restoration of mining properties, the discharge of materials into the environment, the effects that mining has on groundwater quality and availability, and related matters. Numerous governmental permits and approvals are required for our operations. We cannot be certain that we have been or will be at all times in complete compliance with such laws, regulations and permits. If we violate or fail to comply with these laws, regulations or permits, we could be fined or otherwise sanctioned by regulators. Compliance with the complex and extensive laws and regulations that we are subject to imposes substantial costs, which we expect will continue to increase over time because of increased regulatory oversight, adoption of increasingly stringent environmental standards, and increased demand for remediation services leading to shortages of equipment, supplies and labor, as well as other factors.
Specifically, there are several notable proposed or recently enacted rulemakings or activities to which we would be subject or that would further regulate and/or tax our customers, namely the North American integrated steel producer customers that may also require us or our customers to reduce or otherwise change operations significantly or incur additional costs, depending on their ultimate outcome. These proposed or
recently enacted rules and regulations include: Climate Change and GHG Regulation, Regional Haze, NO2 and SO2 National Ambient Air Quality Standards, increased administrative and legislative initiatives related to coal mining activities, the Minnesota Mercury Total Maximum Daily Load Implementation and Selenium Discharge Regulation. Such new legislation, regulations or orders, when enacted, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition or profitability.
Our operations may impact the environment or cause exposure to hazardous substances, and our properties may have environmental contamination, which could result in material liabilities to us.
Our operations currently use and have used in the past, hazardous materials, and, from time to time, we have generated limited quantities of hazardous waste. We may be subject to claims under federal, provincial, state and local laws and regulations for toxic torts, natural resource damages and other damages as well as for the investigation and clean up of soil, surface water, sediments, groundwater and other natural resources. Such claims for damages and reclamation may arise out of current or former conditions at sites that we own or operate currently, as well as sites that we or our acquired companies have owned or operated, and at contaminated sites that have always been owned or operated by our joint-venture parties. Our liability for such claims may be joint and several, so that we may be held responsible for more than our share of the contamination or other damages, or even for the entire share.
We also could be held liable for any and all consequences arising out of human exposure to hazardous substances used, released, or disposed of by us or other environmental damage, including damage to natural resources. In particular, we and certain of our subsidiaries are involved in various claims relating to the exposure of asbestos and silica to seamen who sailed on the Great Lakes vessels formerly owned and operated by certain of our subsidiaries. The full impact of these claims continues to be unknown. Uncertainty also remains as to whether insurance coverage will be sufficient and whether other defendants named in these claims will be able to fund any costs arising out of these claims.
Environmental impacts as a result of our operations, including exposures to hazardous substances or wastes associated with our operations, could result in costs and liabilities that could materially and adversely affect our margins, cash flow or profitability.
We may be unable to obtain and renew permits necessary for our operations, which could reduce our production, cash flows and profitability. We also could face significant permit and approval requirements that could delay our commencement or continuation of exploration and production operations, which, in turn, could affect materially our cash flows and profitability.
Prior to commencement of mining, we must submit to and obtain approval from the appropriate regulatory authority of plans showing where and how mining and reclamation operations are to occur. These plans must include information such as the location of mining areas, stockpiles, surface waters, haul roads, tailings basins and drainage from mining operations. All requirements imposed by any such authority may be costly and time-consuming and may delay commencement or continuation of exploration or production operations.
Mining companies must obtain numerous permits that impose strict conditions on various environmental and safety matters in connection with coal and iron ore mining. These include permits issued by various federal and state agencies and regulatory bodies. The permitting rules are complex and may change over time, making our ability to comply with the applicable requirements more difficult or impractical, possibly precluding the continuance of ongoing operations or the development of future mining operations. The public, including special interest groups and individuals, have certain rights under various statutes to comment upon, submit objections to, and otherwise engage in the permitting process, including bringing citizens' lawsuits to challenge such permits or mining activities. Accordingly, required permits may not be issued or renewed in a timely fashion (or at all), or permits issued or renewed may be conditioned in a manner that may restrict our ability to efficiently conduct our mining activities. Such inefficiencies would likely reduce our production, cash flows and profitability.
Our North American coal operations are subject to increasing levels of regulatory oversight making it more difficult to obtain and maintain necessary operating permits.
The current political and regulatory environment in the U.S. is disposed negatively toward coal mining, with particular focus on certain categories of mining such as mountaintop removal techniques. Therefore, our coal mining operations in North America are subject to increasing levels of scrutiny. U.S. regulatory efforts targeted at eliminating or minimizing the adverse environmental impacts of mountaintop coal mining practices have impacted all types of coal operations. These regulatory initiatives could cause material impacts, delays, or disruptions to our coal operations due to our inability to obtain new or renewed permits or modifications to existing permits.
Underground mining is subject to increased safety regulation and may require us to incur additional compliance costs.
Recent mine disasters have led to the enactment and consideration of significant new federal and state laws and regulations relating to safety in underground coal mines. These laws and regulations include requirements for constructing and maintaining caches for the storage of additional self-contained self-rescuers throughout underground mines; installing rescue chambers in underground mines; constant tracking of and communication with personnel in the mines; installing cable lifelines from the mine portal to all sections of the mine to assist in emergency escape; submission and approval of emergency response plans; and new and additional safety training. Additionally, new requirements for the prompt reporting of accidents and increased fines and penalties for violations of these and existing regulations have been implemented. These new laws and regulations may cause us to incur substantial additional costs, which may impact adversely our results of operations, financial condition or profitability.
We may face potential liability exposure arising out of sites we own, but do not conduct operations. To the extent we are a responsible party, these costs may be material.
We are subject to a variety of potential liability exposures arising at certain sites where we do not currently conduct operations. These sites include sites where we formerly conducted iron ore and/or coal mining or processing or other operations, inactive sites that we currently own, predecessor sites, acquired sites, leased land sites and third-party waste disposal sites. We may be named as a responsible party at other sites in the future and we cannot be certain that the costs associated with these additional sites will not be material.
A substantial majority of our sales are made under term supply agreements to a limited number of customers that contain price-adjustment clauses that could affect adversely the stability and profitability of our operations.
In 2012, a majority of our U.S. Iron Ore and Eastern Canadian Iron Ore sales, the majority of our North American Coal sales, and virtually all of our Asia Pacific Iron Ore sales were made under term supply agreements to a limited number of customers. In 2012, five customers together accounted for approximately 59 percent of our U.S. Iron Ore, Eastern Canadian Iron Ore, and North American Coal product sales revenues (representing more than 43 percent of our consolidated revenues). For North American Coal, prices typically are agreed upon for a 12-month period and typically are adjusted each year. Our Asia Pacific Iron Ore contracts expire in 2015 for Chinese customers and 2013 for Japanese customers. Our U.S. Iron Ore contracts have an average remaining duration of four years. We have one major customer contract for the life of the mine with the remaining contracts set to expire no later than 2014 for our Eastern Canadian Iron Ore contracts. We cannot be certain that we will be able to renew or replace existing term supply agreements at the same volume levels, prices or with similar profit margins when they expire. A loss of sales to our existing customers could have a substantial negative impact on our sales, margins and profitability.
Our U.S. Iron Ore term supply agreements contain a number of price adjustment provisions, or price escalators, including adjustments based on general industrial inflation rates, the price of steel and the international price of iron ore pellets, among other factors, that allow us to adjust the prices under those
agreements generally on an annual basis. Several of our Eastern Canadian Iron Ore customers have multi-year pricing arrangements that contain pricing adjustments that reference certain published market prices for iron ore. During the first quarter of 2010, the world's largest iron ore producers moved away from the annual international benchmark pricing mechanism in favor of a shorter-term, more flexible pricing system. The change in the international pricing system has, in most instances, required that our sales contracts be modified to take into account the new international pricing methodology. We finalized shorter-term pricing arrangements with our Asia Pacific Iron Ore customers. We reached final pricing settlements with all of our U.S. Iron Ore customers by the end of 2012.
Changes in credit ratings issued by nationally recognized statistical rating organizations could affect adversely our cost of financing and the market price of our securities.
Credit rating agencies could downgrade our ratings (which currently are deemed “investment grade” levels) either due to our capital structure, factors specific to our business, a prolonged cyclical downturn in the mining industry, or macroeconomic trends (such as global or regional recessions) and trends in credit and capital markets more generally. There can be no assurance that we will maintain our current ratings. Any decline in our credit ratings, including a loss of investment-grade status, could result in an increase in our cost of funds, limit our access to the capital markets, trigger additional collateral or funding requirements, decrease the number of investors and counterparties that are willing to lend to us, significantly harm our financial condition and results of operations, hinder our ability to refinance existing indebtedness on acceptable terms and have an adverse effect on the market price of our securities.
We rely on our joint venture partners in our mines to meet their payment obligations and we are subject to risks involving the acts or omissions of our joint venture partners when we are not the manager of the joint venture.
We co-own and manage three of our five U.S. Iron Ore mines and one of our two Eastern Canadian Iron Ore mines with various joint venture partners that are integrated steel producers or their subsidiaries, including ArcelorMittal, U.S. Steel Canada Inc., and WISCO. We also own, though a sale is pending, a minority interest in a mine located in Brazil that we do not manage. We rely on our joint venture partners to make their required capital contributions and to pay for their share of the iron ore that each joint venture produces. Our U.S. Iron Ore and Eastern Canadian Iron Ore joint venture partners are also our customers. If one or more of our joint venture partners fail to perform their obligations, the remaining joint venture partners, including ourselves, may be required to assume additional material obligations, including significant capital contribution, pension and postretirement health and life insurance benefit obligations. The premature closure of a mine due to the failure of a joint venture partner to perform its obligations could result in significant fixed mine-closure costs, including severance, employment legacy costs and other employment costs; reclamation and other environmental costs; and the costs of terminating long-term obligations, including energy and shipping contracts and equipment leases.
We cannot control the actions of our joint venture partners, especially when we have a minority interest in a joint venture and are not designated as the manager of the joint venture. Further, in spite of performing customary due diligence prior to entering into a joint venture, we cannot guarantee full disclosure of prior acts or omissions of the sellers or those with whom we enter into joint ventures. Such risks could have a material adverse effect on the business, results of operations or financial condition of our joint venture interests.
We may not be able to obtain fair value when divesting assets or businesses.
When we divest assets or businesses, we may not be able to obtain the carrying value or fair value of these assets, which potentially could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations and shareholders' equity. Also, if we were to sell a percentage of a business, there are risks of a joint venture relationship as noted in the risk factor above.
Our ability to collect payments from our customers depends on their creditworthiness.
Our ability to receive payment for products sold and delivered to our customers depends on the creditworthiness of our customers. With respect to our Asia Pacific and Eastern Canadian Iron Ore business units, payment typically is received as the products are shipped and much of the product is secured by bank letters of credit. By contrast, in our U.S. Iron Ore business unit, generally, we deliver iron ore products to our customers' facilities in advance of payment for those products. Under this practice for our U.S. customers, title and risk of loss with respect to U.S. Iron Ore products does not pass to the customer until payment for the pellets is received; however, there is typically a period of time in which pellets, for which we have reserved title, are within our customers' control.
Consolidations in some of the industries in which our customers operate have created larger customers. These factors have caused some customers to be less profitable and increased our exposure to credit risk. Customers in other countries may be subject to other pressures and uncertainties that may affect their ability to pay, including trade barriers, exchange controls, and local, economic and political conditions. Downturns in the economy and disruptions in the global financial markets in recent years have affected the creditworthiness of our customers from time to time. The extreme market disruption in 2008, among other things, severely limited liquidity and credit availability. Some of our customers are highly leveraged. If the current economic conditions worsen or prolonged global, national or regional economic recession conditions return, it is likely to impact significantly the creditworthiness of our customers and could, in turn, increase the risk we bear on payment default for the credit we provide to our customers.
A significant adverse change in the financial and/or credit position of a customer could require us to assume greater credit risk relating to that customer and could limit our ability to collect receivables. Failure to receive payment from our customers for products that we have delivered could affect adversely our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity.
Our operating expenses could increase significantly if the price of electrical power, fuel or other energy sources increases.
Our mining operations and development projects require significant use of energy. Operating expenses at all of our mining locations are sensitive to changes in electricity prices and fuel prices, including diesel fuel and natural gas prices. These items make up approximately 20 to 25 percent in the aggregate of our operating costs in our U.S. Iron Ore and Eastern Canadian Iron Ore locations. Prices for electricity, natural gas and fuel oils can fluctuate widely with availability and demand levels from other users. During periods of peak usage, supplies of energy may be curtailed and we may not be able to purchase them at historical rates. A disruption in the transmission of energy, inadequate energy transmission infrastructure, or the termination of any of our energy supply contracts could interrupt our energy supply and affect adversely our operations. While we have some long-term contracts with electrical suppliers, we are exposed to fluctuations in energy costs that can affect our production costs. As an example, our Empire and Tilden mines are subject to changes in WE Energies' rates, such as base interim rate changes that WE Energies may self-implement and final rate changes that are approved by the MPSC in response to an application filed by WE Energies. These procedures have resulted in several rate increases since 2008, when Empire and Tilden's special contracts for electric service with WE Energies expired. We enter into market-based pricing supply contracts for natural gas and diesel fuel for use in our operations. Those contracts expose us to price increases in fuel costs, which could cause our profitability to decrease significantly.
In addition, U.S. public utilities are expected to pass through additional capital and operating cost increases related to new, pending U.S. environmental regulations that are expected to require significant capital investment and use of cleaner fuels over the next 10 years and may impact U.S. coal-fired generation capacity. We are estimating that power rates for our electricity-intensive operations could increase above 2012 levels by up to 25 percent by 2016, representing an annual power spend increase of approximately $58 million by 2016 for our U.S. operations.
The availability of capital for exploration, acquisitions and mine development may be limited.
We expect to grow our business and presence as an international mining company by continuing to expand both geographically and through the minerals that we mine and market. To execute on this strategy, we will need to have access to the capital markets to finance exploration, acquisitions and development of mining properties. During the global economic crisis, access to capital to finance new projects and acquisitions was extremely limited. We cannot predict the general availability or accessibility of capital to finance such projects in the future. If we are unable to continue to access the capital markets, our ability to execute on our growth strategy will be impacted negatively.
We are subject to a variety of financial market risks.
Financial market risks include those caused by changes in the value of equity investments, changes in commodity prices, interest rates and foreign currency exchange rates. We have established policies and procedures to manage such risks; however, certain risks are beyond our control and our efforts to mitigate such risks may not be effective. These factors could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.
Holders of our common shares may not receive dividends on the common shares.
Holders of our common shares are entitled to receive only such dividends as our board of directors may declare out of funds legally available for such payments. We are incorporated in Ohio and governed by the Ohio General Corporation Law, which allows a corporation to pay dividends, in general, in an amount that cannot exceed its surplus, as determined under Ohio law. Furthermore, holders of our common shares may be subject to prior dividend rights of holders of our preferred stock or depositary shares representing such preferred stock then outstanding. Our ability to pay dividends will be subject to our future earnings, capital requirements and financial condition, as well as our compliance with covenants and financial ratios related to existing or future indebtedness. Although we historically have declared cash dividends on our common shares, we are not required to declare cash dividends on our common shares and our board of directors may reduce, defer or eliminate our common share dividend in the future.
IV. OPERATIONAL RISKS
Mine closures entail substantial costs. If we close one or more of our mines, our results of operations and financial condition would likely be affected adversely.
If we close any of our mines, our revenues would be reduced unless we were able to increase production at our other mines, which may not be possible. The closure of a mining operation involves significant fixed closure costs, including accelerated employment legacy costs, severance-related obligations, reclamation and other environmental costs, and the costs of terminating long-term obligations, including energy contracts and equipment leases. We base our assumptions regarding the life of our mines on detailed studies we perform from time to time, but those studies and assumptions are subject to uncertainties and estimates that may not be accurate. We recognize the costs of reclaiming open pits and shafts, stockpiles, tailings ponds, roads and other mining support areas based on the estimated mining life of our property. If we were to significantly reduce the estimated life of any of our mines, the mine-closure costs would be applied to a shorter period of production, which would increase production costs per ton produced and could significantly and adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
A North American mine permanent closure could increase significantly and accelerate employment legacy costs, including our expense and funding costs for pension and other postretirement benefit obligations. A number of employees would be eligible for immediate retirement under special eligibility rules that apply upon a mine closure. All employees eligible for immediate retirement under the pension plans at the time of the permanent mine closure also could be eligible for postretirement health and life insurance benefits, thereby accelerating our obligation to provide these benefits. Certain mine closures would precipitate a pension closure liability significantly greater than an ongoing operation liability. Finally, a permanent mine closure could trigger severance-related obligations, which can equal up to eight weeks of pay per employee, depending on length of service. As a result, the closure of one or more of our mines could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
Our sales and competitive position depend on the ability to transport our products to our customers at competitive rates and in a timely manner.
In our U.S. Iron Ore and Eastern Canadian Iron Ore operations, disruption of the lake and ocean-going freighter and rail transportation services because of weather-related problems, including ice and winter weather conditions on the Great Lakes or St. Lawrence Seaway, strikes, lock-outs, or other events, could impair our ability to supply iron ore to our customers at competitive rates or in a timely manner and, thus, could adversely affect our sales, margins, and profitability. Similarly, our North American Coal operations depend on international freighter and rail transportation services, as well as the availability of dock capacity, and any disruptions to those services or the lack of dock capacity could impair our ability to supply coal to our customers at competitive rates or in a timely manner and, thus, could adversely affect our sales and profitability. Further, reduced dredging and environmental changes, particularly at Great Lakes ports, could impact negatively our ability to move our iron ore and coal products because lower water levels restrict the tonnage that freighters can haul, resulting in higher freight rates.
Our Asia Pacific Iron Ore operations are also dependent upon rail and port capacity. Disruptions in rail service or availability of dock capacity could similarly impair our ability to supply iron ore to our customers, thereby adversely affecting our sales and profitability. In addition, our Asia Pacific Iron Ore operations are also in direct competition with the major world seaborne exporters of iron ore and our customers face higher transportation costs than most other Australian producers to ship our products to the Asian markets because of the location of our major shipping port on the south coast of Australia. Further, increases in transportation costs, decreased availability of ocean vessels or changes in such costs relative to transportation costs incurred by our competitors could make our products less competitive, restrict our access to certain markets and have an adverse effect on our sales, margins and profitability.
Natural disasters, weather conditions, disruption of energy, unanticipated geological conditions, equipment failures, and other unexpected events may lead our customers, our suppliers or our facilities to curtail production or shut down operations.
Operating levels within the mining industry are subject to unexpected conditions and events that are beyond the industry's control. Those events could cause industry members or their suppliers to curtail production or shut down a portion or all of their operations, which could reduce the demand for our iron ore and coal products, and could affect adversely our sales, margins and profitability.
Interruptions in production capabilities inevitably will increase our production costs and reduce our profitability. We do not have meaningful excess capacity for current production needs, and we are not able to quickly increase production at one mine to offset an interruption in production at another mine.
A portion of our production costs are fixed regardless of current operating levels. As noted, our operating levels are subject to conditions beyond our control that can delay deliveries or increase the cost of mining at particular mines for varying lengths of time. These include weather conditions (for example, extreme winter weather, tornadoes, floods, and the lack of availability of process water due to drought) and natural disasters, pit wall failures, unanticipated geological conditions, including variations in the amount of rock and soil overlying the deposits of iron ore and coal, variations in rock and other natural materials and variations in geologic conditions and ore processing changes.
The manufacturing processes that take place in our mining operations, as well as in our processing facilities, depend on critical pieces of equipment. This equipment may, on occasion, be out of service because of unanticipated failures. In addition, many of our mines and processing facilities have been in operation for several decades, and the equipment is aged. In the future, we may experience additional material plant shutdowns or periods of reduced production because of equipment failures. Further, remediation of any interruption in production capability may require us to make large capital expenditures that could have a negative effect on our profitability and cash flows. Our business interruption insurance would not cover all of the lost revenues associated with equipment failures. Longer-term business disruptions could result in a loss of customers, which adversely could affect our future sales levels and, therefore, our profitability.
Regarding the impact of unexpected events happening to our suppliers, many of our mines are
dependent on one source for electric power and for natural gas. A significant interruption in service from our energy suppliers due to terrorism, weather conditions, natural disasters, or any other cause can result in substantial losses that may not be fully recoverable, either from our business interruption insurance or responsible third parties.
We are subject to risks involving operations and sales in multiple countries.
We have a strategy to broaden our scope as a supplier of raw materials to the global integrated steel industry. As we expand beyond our traditional North American base business, we are subject to additional risks beyond those relating to our North American operations, such as fluctuations in currency exchange rates; potentially adverse tax consequences due to overlapping or differing tax structures; burdens to comply with multiple and potentially conflicting foreign laws and regulations, including export requirements, tariffs and other barriers, environmental health and safety requirements, and unexpected changes in any of these laws and regulations; the imposition of duties, tariffs, import and export controls and other trade barriers impacting the seaborne iron ore and coal markets; difficulties in staffing and managing multi-national operations; political and economic instability and disruptions, including terrorist attacks; disadvantages of competing against companies from countries that are not subject to U.S. laws and regulations, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act; and uncertainties in the enforcement of legal rights and remedies in multiple jurisdictions. If we are unable to manage successfully the risks associated with expanding our global business, these risks could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition.
Our profitability could be affected adversely by the failure of outside contractors to perform.
Asia Pacific Iron Ore and Eastern Canadian Iron Ore use contractors to handle many of the operational phases of their mining and processing operations and, therefore, we are subject to the performance of outside companies on key production areas. A failure of any of these contractors to perform in a significant way would result in additional costs for us, which also could affect adversely our production rates and results of operations.
Coal mining is complex due to geological characteristics of the region.
The geological characteristics of coal reserves, such as depth of overburden and coal seam thickness, make them complex and costly to mine. As mines become depleted, replacement reserves may not be available when required or, if available, may not be capable of being mined at costs comparable to those characteristic of the depleting mines, and, therefore, decisions to defer mine development activities may adversely impact our ability to substantially increase future coal production. These factors could materially adversely affect our mining operations and cost structures, which could affect adversely our sales, profitability and cash flows.
V. DEVELOPMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY RISKS
Significant delays in expanding production at Bloom Lake could have an adverse impact on our future earnings and cash flow generation.
We have invested, and continue to invest, in Bloom Lake, our large-scale seaborne iron ore growth project in Eastern Canada. Maximizing Bloom Lake's production capabilities represents an opportunity to create significant shareholder value and we expect the Phase II expansion at Bloom Lake to meaningfully enhance our future earnings and cash flow generation by increasing sales volume and reducing unit operating costs. Various factors, such as a volatile pricing environment for iron ore and work stoppages, could delay components of Phase II's construction activities and planned startup date. Any significant delay in expanding production at Bloom Lake could have an adverse impact on our future earnings and cash flow generation.
We may be unable to successfully identify, acquire and integrate strategic acquisition candidates.
Our ability to grow successfully through acquisitions depends upon our ability to identify, negotiate, complete and integrate suitable acquisitions and to obtain necessary financing. We cannot provide assurance that we will be able to identify successfully strategic candidates or acquire any such businesses. In addition, the costs of acquiring other businesses could increase if competition for acquisition candidates increases. Additionally, the success of an acquisition is subject to other risks and uncertainties, including our ability to realize operating efficiencies expected from an acquisition; the size or quality of the mineral potential; delays in realizing the benefits of an acquisition; difficulties in retaining key employees, customers or suppliers of the acquired businesses; difficulties in maintaining uniform controls, procedures, standards and policies throughout acquired companies; the risks associated with the assumption of contingent or undisclosed liabilities of acquisition targets; the impact of changes to our allocation of purchase price; and the ability to generate future cash flows or the availability of financing.
Moreover, any acquisition opportunities we pursue could affect materially our liquidity and capital resources and may require us to incur indebtedness, seek equity capital or both. Future acquisitions could also result in us assuming more long-term liabilities relative to the value of the acquired assets than we have assumed in our previous acquisitions.
Estimates relating to new development projects are uncertain and we may incur higher costs and lower economic returns than estimated.
Mine development projects typically require a number of years and significant expenditures during the development phase before production is possible. Such projects could experience unexpected problems and delays during development, construction and mine start-up.
Our decision to develop a project typically is based on the results of feasibility studies, which estimate the anticipated economic returns of a project. The actual project profitability or economic feasibility may differ from such estimates as a result of any of the following factors, among others:
changes in tonnage, grades and metallurgical characteristics of ore to be mined and processed;
higher construction and infrastructure costs;
the quality of the data on which engineering assumptions were made;
higher production costs;
adverse geotechnical conditions;
availability of adequate labor force;
availability and cost of water and power;
availability and cost of transportation;
fluctuations in inflation and currency exchange rates;
availability and terms of financing;
delays in obtaining environmental or other government permits or changes in the laws and regulations related to those permits;
weather or severe climate impacts; and
potential delays relating to social and community issues.
Our future development activities may not result in the expansion or replacement of current production with new production, or one or more of these new production sites or facilities may be less profitable than currently anticipated, or may not be profitable at all, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our sales, margins and cash flows.
We continually must replace reserves depleted by production. Our exploration activities may not result in additional discoveries.
Our ability to replenish our ore reserves is important to our long-term viability. Depleted ore reserves must be replaced by further delineation of existing ore bodies or by locating new deposits in order to maintain production levels over the long term. Resource exploration and development are highly speculative in nature. Our exploration projects involve many risks, require substantial expenditures and may not result in the discovery of sufficient additional mineral deposits that can be mined profitably. Once a site with mineralization is discovered, it may take several years from the initial phases of drilling until production is possible, during which time the economic feasibility of production may change. Substantial expenditures are required to establish recoverable proven and probable reserves and to construct mining and processing facilities. As a result, there is no assurance that current or future exploration programs will be successful and there is a risk that depletion of reserves will not be offset by discoveries or acquisitions.
We rely on estimates of our recoverable reserves, which is complex due to geological characteristics of the properties and the number of assumptions made.
We regularly evaluate our U.S. iron ore, Eastern Canadian iron ore, and coal reserves based on revenues and costs and update them as required in accordance with SEC Industry Guide 7 and Canada's National Instrument 43-101. In addition, our Asia Pacific Iron Ore business segment has published reserves that follow JORC in Australia and changes have been made to our Western Australian reserve values to make them comply with SEC requirements. There are numerous uncertainties inherent in estimating quantities of reserves of our mines, including many factors beyond our control.
Estimates of reserves and future net cash flows necessarily depend upon a number of variable factors and assumptions, such as production capacity, effects of regulations by governmental agencies, future prices for iron ore and coal, future industry conditions and operating costs, severance and excise taxes, development costs and costs of extraction and reclamation, all of which may vary considerably from actual results. Estimating the quantity and grade of reserves requires us to determine the size, shape and depth of our mineral bodies by analyzing geological data, such as samplings of drill holes, tunnels and other underground workings. In addition to the geology assumptions of our mines, assumptions are also required to determine the economic feasibility of mining these reserves, including estimates of future commodity prices and demand, the mining methods we use, and the related costs incurred to develop and mine our reserves. For these reasons, estimates of the economically recoverable quantities of mineralized deposits attributable to any particular group of properties, classifications of such reserves based on risk of recovery and estimates of future net cash flows prepared by different engineers or by the same engineers at different times may vary substantially as the criteria change. Estimated ore and coal reserves could be affected by future industry conditions, geological conditions and ongoing mine planning. Actual volume and grade of reserves recovered, production rates, revenues and expenditures with respect to our reserves will likely vary from estimates, and if such variances are material, our sales and profitability could be affected adversely.
Any defects in title of leasehold interests in our properties could limit our ability to mine these properties or could result in significant unanticipated costs.
We conduct a significant part of our mining operations on properties that we lease. These leases were entered into over a period of many years by some of our predecessors, and title to our leased properties and mineral rights may not be thoroughly verified until a permit to mine the property is obtained. Our right to mine some of our proven and probable reserves, for iron ore or coal, may be materially adversely affected if there were defects in title or boundaries. In order to obtain leases or mining contracts to conduct our mining operations on property where these defects exist, we may in the future have to incur unanticipated costs, which could affect adversely our profitability.
In order to continue to foster growth in our business and maintain stability of our earnings, we must maintain our social license to operate with our stakeholders.
As a mining company, maintaining a strong reputation and consistent operational and safety history is vital in order to continue to foster growth and maintain stability in our earnings. As sustainability expectations increase and regulatory requirements continue to evolve, maintaining our social license to operate becomes increasingly important. We strive to incorporate social license expectations in our ERM program. Our ability to maintain our reputation and strong operating history could be threatened, including by circumstances outside of our control. If we are not able to respond effectively to these and other challenges to our social license to operate, our reputation could be damaged significantly. Damage to our reputation could affect adversely our operations and ability to foster growth in our Company.
VI. HUMAN CAPITAL RISKS
Our profitability could be affected adversely if we fail to maintain satisfactory labor relations.
Production in our mines is dependent upon the efforts of our employees. We are party to labor agreements with various labor unions that represent employees at our operations. Such labor agreements are negotiated periodically, and, therefore, we are subject to the risk that these agreements may not be able to be renewed on reasonably satisfactory terms. It is difficult to predict what issues may arise as part of the collective bargaining process, and whether negotiations concerning these issues will be successful. Due to union activities or other employee actions, we could experience labor disputes, work stoppages, or other disruptions in our production of coal and minerals that could affect us adversely. The USW represents all hourly employees at our U.S. Iron Ore and Eastern Canadian Iron Ore operations owned and/or managed by Cliffs or its subsidiary companies except for Northshore. Effective September 1, 2012, our Empire and Tilden mines in Michigan, and United Taconite and Hibbing mines in Minnesota, entered into 37-month labor agreements with the USW that cover approximately 2,400 USW-represented employees at those mines. Those agreements are effective through September 30, 2015. Effective March 1, 2009, Wabush entered into a five-year labor agreement with the USW that covers approximately 700 hourly employees, which is effective through February 28, 2014. The UMWA represents approximately 800 hourly employees at our Pinnacle location in West Virginia and our Oak Grove location in Alabama. A new five and one-half year labor agreement with respect to those mines was entered into with the UMWA, effective July 1, 2011 through December 31, 2016. Approximately 120 hourly employees at the railroads we own that transport products among our facilities are represented by seven separate rail unions. The moratorium for bargaining as to each of those unions under the Railway Labor Act expired on December 31, 2009. Since then five-year agreements have been reached with six of the unions, and the moratorium on bargaining expires as to each on December 31, 2014. Negotiations are actively underway with the remaining union and it is common for bargaining under this Act to last a number of years after the moratorium has expired before a new agreement is reached. With respect to Railway Labor Act bargaining, work stoppages cannot occur until the matter has been mediated before a federal mediator. On November 21, 2012, the USW was certified to represent employees in Bloom Lake. Negotiations will begin in the first quarter of 2013. If we enter into a new labor agreement with any union that significantly increases our labor costs relative to our competitors, our ability to compete may be materially and adversely affected.
We may encounter labor shortages for critical operational positions, which could affect adversely our ability to produce our products.
We are predicting a long-term shortage of skilled workers for the mining industry and competition for the available workers limits our ability to attract and retain employees. Currently, the mining industry is experiencing an acute skills shortage in Australia, Canada, Brazil and other countries in which we do not have operations currently. At our mining locations, many of our mining operational employees are approaching retirement age. As these experienced employees retire, we may have difficulty replacing them at competitive wages.
Our expenditures for post-retirement benefit and pension obligations could be materially higher than we have predicted if our underlying assumptions differ from actual outcomes, there are mine closures, or our joint venture partners fail to perform their obligations that relate to employee pension plans.
We provide defined benefit pension plans and OPEB to certain eligible union and non-union employees in North America, including our share of expense and funding obligations with respect to unconsolidated ventures. Our pension expense and our required contributions to our pension plans are affected directly by the value of plan assets, the projected and actual rate of return on plan assets, and the actuarial assumptions we use to measure our defined benefit pension plan obligations, including the rate at which future obligations are discounted.
We cannot predict whether changing market or economic conditions, regulatory changes or other factors will increase our pension expenses or our funding obligations, diverting funds we would otherwise apply to other uses.
We have calculated our unfunded pension and OPEB obligations based on a number of assumptions. If our assumptions do not materialize as expected, cash expenditures and costs that we incur could be materially higher. Moreover, we cannot be certain that regulatory changes will not increase our obligations to provide these or additional benefits. These obligations also may increase substantially in the event of adverse medical cost trends or unexpected rates of early retirement, particularly for bargaining unit retirees. A retiree medical cap has been negotiated and is effective for those employees who retire after January 1, 2015. Early retirement rates likely would increase substantially in the event of a mine closure.
We depend on our senior management team and other key employees, and the loss any of these employees could adversely affect our business.
Our success depends in part on our ability to attract and motivate our senior management and key employees. Achieving this objective may be difficult due to a variety of factors, including fluctuations in the global economic and industry conditions, competitors' hiring practices, cost reduction activities, and the effectiveness of our compensation programs. Competition for qualified personnel can be very intense. We must continue to recruit, retain, and motivate our senior management and key personnel in order to maintain our business and support our projects. A loss of senior management and key personnel could prevent us from capitalizing on business opportunities, and our operating results could be adversely affected.
Unresolved Staff Comments
We have no unresolved comments from the SEC.
The following map shows the locations of our operations and offices as of December 31, 2012:
General Information about the Mines
All of our iron ore mining operations are open-pit mines that are in production. Additional pit development is underway at each mine as required by long-range mine plans. At our U.S. Iron Ore, Eastern Canadian Iron Ore and Asia Pacific Iron Ore mines, drilling programs are conducted periodically for the purpose of refining guidance related to ongoing operations.
Our North American Coal operations consist of both underground and surface mines that are in production. Drilling programs are conducted periodically for the purpose of refining guidance related to ongoing operations.
Geologic models are developed for all mines to define the major ore and waste rock types. Computerized block models for iron ore and stratigraphic models for coal are constructed that include all relevant geologic and metallurgical data. These are used to generate grade and tonnage estimates, followed by detailed mine design and life of mine operating schedules.
U.S. Iron Ore
The following map shows the locations of our U.S. Iron Ore operations as of December 31, 2012:
We directly or indirectly own and operate interests in five U.S. Iron Ore mines located in Michigan and Minnesota from which we produced 22.0 million, 23.7 million and 21.5 million long tons of iron ore pellets in 2012, 2011 and 2010, respectively, for our account. We produced 7.5 million, 7.3 million and 6.6 million long tons, respectively, on behalf of the steel company partners of the mines.
Our U.S. Iron Ore mines produce from deposits located within the Biwabik and Negaunee Iron Formation, which are classified as Lake Superior type iron-formations that formed under similar sedimentary conditions in shallow marine basins approximately two billion years ago. Magnetite and hematite are the predominant iron oxide ore minerals present, with lesser amounts of goethite and limonite. Quartz is the predominant waste mineral present, with lesser amounts of other chiefly iron bearing silicate and carbonate minerals. The ore minerals liberate from the waste minerals upon fine grinding.
Current Annual Capacity
(Tons in Millions)1
1 Annual Capacity is reported on a wet basis in millions of Long Tons, equivalent to 2,240 pounds.
The Empire mine is located on the Marquette Iron Range in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula approximately 15 miles southwest of Marquette, Michigan. Over the past five years, the Empire mine has produced between 1.3 million and 4.6 million long tons of iron ore pellets annually. As previously announced and consistent with our 2012 operating plan, we expect to temporarily idle production at the Empire mine beginning in the second quarter of 2013. Depending on our partner's requirements, we expect to restart production in early fourth quarter of 2013.
We own 79 percent of Empire and a subsidiary of ArcelorMittal USA has retained the remaining 21 percent ownership in Empire with limited rights and obligations, which it has a unilateral right to put to us at any time. This right has not been exercised. Each partner takes its share of production pro rata; however, provisions in the partnership agreement allow additional or reduced production to be delivered under certain circumstances. We own directly approximately one-half of the remaining ore reserves at the Empire mine and lease them to Empire. A subsidiary of ours leases the balance of the Empire reserves from other owners of such reserves and subleases them to Empire. Operations consist of an open pit truck and shovel mine, a concentrator that utilizes single stage crushing, AG mills, magnetic separation and floatation to produce a magnetic concentrate that is then supplied to the on-site pellet plant.
The Tilden mine is located on the Marquette Iron Range in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula approximately five miles south of Ishpeming, Michigan. Over the past five years, the Tilden mine has produced between 5.6 million and 9.5 million long tons of iron ore pellets annually. We own 85 percent of Tilden, with the remaining minority interest owned by a subsidiary of U.S. Steel Canada Inc. Each partner takes its share of production pro rata; however, provisions in the partnership agreement allow additional or reduced production to be delivered under certain circumstances. We own all of the ore reserves at the Tilden mine and lease them to Tilden. Operations consist of an open pit truck and shovel mine, a concentrator that utilizes single stage crushing, AG mills, magnetic separation and floatation to produce hematite and magnetic concentrates that is then supplied to the on-site pellet plant.
The Empire and Tilden mines are located adjacent to each other. The logistical benefits include a consolidated transportation system, more efficient employee and equipment operating schedules, reduction in redundant facilities and workforce and best practices sharing. Two railroads, one of which is wholly owned by us, link the Empire and Tilden mines with Lake Michigan at the loading port of Escanaba, Michigan and with the Lake Superior loading port of Marquette, Michigan.
In the third quarter of 2010, an expansion project was approved at our Empire and Tilden mines for capital investments on equipment. The expansion project allowed the Empire mine to produce at three million tons annually through 2014 and increased Tilden mine production by an additional two million tons annually.
The Hibbing mine is located in the center of Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range and is approximately ten miles north of Hibbing, Minnesota and five miles west of Chisholm, Minnesota. Over the past five years, the Hibbing mine has produced between 1.7 million and 8.2 million long tons of iron ore pellets annually. We own 23 percent of Hibbing, a subsidiary of ArcelorMittal has a 62.3 percent interest and a subsidiary of U.S. Steel has a 14.7 percent interest. Each partner takes its share of production pro rata; however, provisions in the joint venture agreement allow additional or reduced production to be delivered under certain circumstances. Mining is conducted on multiple mineral leases having varying expiration dates. Mining leases routinely are renegotiated and renewed as they approach their respective expiration dates. Hibbing operations consist of an open pit truck and shovel mine, a concentrator that utilizes single stage crushing, AG mills and magnetic separation, and an on-site pellet plant. From the site, pellets are transported by BNSF rail to a ship loading port at Superior, Wisconsin operated by BNSF.
The Northshore mine is located in northeastern Minnesota, approximately two miles south of Babbitt, Minnesota on the northeastern end of the Mesabi Iron Range. Northshore’s processing facilities are located in Silver Bay, Minnesota, near Lake Superior. Crude ore is shipped by a wholly owned railroad from the mine to the processing and dock facilities at Silver Bay. Over the past five years, the Northshore mine has produced between 3.2 million and 5.8 million long tons of iron ore pellets annually. As previously announced, two of the four production lines at Northshore were idled beginning January 5, 2013. The Northshore mine began production under our management and ownership on October 1, 1994. We own 100 percent of the mine. Mining is conducted on multiple mineral leases having varying expiration dates. Mining leases routinely are renegotiated and renewed as they approach their respective expiration dates. Northshore operations consist of an open pit truck and shovel mine where two stages of crushing occurs before the ore is transported along a wholly-owned 47-mile rail line to the plant site in Silver Bay. At the plant site, two additional stages of crushing occur before the ore is sent to the concentrator. The concentrator utilizes rod mills and magnetic separation to produce a magnetite concentrate, which is delivered to the pellet plant located on-site. The plant site has its own ship loading port located on Lake Superior.
United Taconite Mine
The United Taconite mine is located on Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range in and around the city of Eveleth, Minnesota. The United Taconite concentrator and pelletizing facilities are located ten miles south of the mine, near the town of Forbes, Minnesota. Over the past five years, the United Taconite mine has produced between 3.8 million and 5.4 million long tons of iron ore pellets annually. We own 100 percent of the mine. Mining is conducted on multiple mineral leases having varying expiration dates. Mining leases routinely are renegotiated and renewed as they approach their respective expiration dates. United Taconite operations consist of an open pit truck and shovel mine where two stages of crushing occurs before the ore is transported by rail to the plant site located ten miles to the south. At the plant site an additional stage of crushing occurs before the ore is sent to the concentrator. The concentrator utilizes rod mills and magnetic separation to produce a magnetite concentrate, which is delivered to the pellet plant. From the site, pellets are transported by CN rail to a ship loading port at Duluth, MN operated by CN.
Eastern Canadian Iron Ore
The following map shows the locations of our Eastern Canadian Iron Ore operations as of December 31, 2012:
We own and operate interests in two iron ore mines in the Canadian Provinces of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador from which we produce a product mix of iron ore pellets and concentrate. We produced 8.5 million, 6.9 million and 3.9 million metric tons of iron ore product in 2012, 2011 and 2010, respectively. In May 2011, we acquired Consolidated Thompson along with its 75 percent interest in the Bloom Lake property.
Our Eastern Canadian mines produce from deposits located within the area known as the Labrador Trough and are composed of iron-formations, which are classified as Lake Superior type. Lake Superior type iron-formations consist of banded sedimentary rocks that formed under similar conditions in shallow marine basins approximately two billion years ago. The Labrador Trough region experienced considerable metamorphism and folding of the original iron deposits. Magnetite and hematite are the predominant iron oxide ore minerals present, with lesser amounts of goethite and limonite. Quartz is the predominant waste mineral present, with lesser amounts of other chiefly iron bearing silicate minerals. The ore minerals liberate from the waste minerals upon fine grinding.
Current Annual Capacity (Metric tons in Millions)1
1 Annual Capacity is reported on a wet basis in millions of Metric Tons, equivalent to 2,205 pounds.
The Wabush mine has been in operation since 1965. Over the past five years, the Wabush mine has produced between 2.7 million and 4.2 million metric tons of iron ore pellets annually. On October 12, 2009, we exercised our right of first refusal to acquire the remaining interest in Wabush, including a U.S. Steel subsidiary’s 44.6 percent interest and a ArcelorMittal’s subsidiary’s 28.6 percent interest. Ownership transfer to Cliffs was completed on February 1, 2010. Mining is conducted on several mineral leases having varying expiration dates. Mining leases are routinely renegotiated and renewed as they approach their respective expiration dates. The Wabush mine and concentrator are located in Wabush, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the pelletizing operations and dock facility are located in Pointe Noire, Quebec. At the mine, operations consist of an open pit truck and shovel mine, a concentrator that utilizes single stage crushing, AG mills and gravity separation to produce an iron concentrate. Concentrates are shipped by rail 300 miles to Pointe Noire where they are pelletized for shipment via vessel within Canada, to the United States and other international destinations. Additionally, concentrates may be shipped directly from Pointe Noire for sinter feed.
Bloom Lake Mine
The Bloom Lake mine and concentrator are located approximately nine miles southwest of Fermont, Quebec. As previously mentioned, our acquisition of Consolidated Thompson included a 75 percent majority ownership in the Bloom Lake operation. Phase I of the Bloom Lake mine was commissioned in March 2010 and it consists of an open pit truck and shovel mine, a concentrator that utilizes single stage crushing, an AG mill and gravity separation to produce an iron concentrate. From the site, concentrate is transported by rail to a ship loading port in Pointe Noire, Quebec.
Phase II is currently under construction and consists of an additional concentrator and support facilities. The expansion project upon completion of Phase II will result in a ramp-up of production capabilities from 7.2 million to 14.5 million metric tons of iron ore concentrate per year. The open pit mine and mining fleet will be expanded to support the required ore delivery for both Phase I and II. As previously announced in the fourth quarter, despite the progress we have made on the expansion, the year's volatile pricing environment caused us to delay certain components of Phase II construction activities and planned startup date.
Asia Pacific Iron Ore
The following map shows the location of our Asia Pacific Iron Ore operation as of December 31, 2012:
In Australia, we own and operate an interest in Koolyanobbing and owned and operated a 50 percent interest in the Cockatoo Island iron ore mine until we sold it in September 2012. We produced 11.3 million metric tons, 8.9 million metric tons and 9.3 million metric tons in 2012, 2011 and 2010, respectively.
The mineralization at the Koolyanobbing operations is predominantly hematite and goethite replacements in greenstone-hosted banded iron-formations. Individual deposits tend to be small with complex ore-waste contact relationships. The reserves at the Koolyanobbing operations are derived from 14 separate mineral deposits distributed over a 70 mile operating radius.
tons in Millions)1
1 Annual Capacity is reported on a wet basis in millions of Metric Tons, equivalent to 2,205 pounds.
The Koolyanobbing operations are located 250 miles east of Perth and approximately 30 miles northeast of the town of Southern Cross. Koolyanobbing produces lump and fines iron ore. Mining is conducted on multiple mineral leases having varying expiration dates. Mining leases routinely are renewed as they approach their respective expiration dates. Ongoing exploration programs targeting extensions to the iron ore mineralization, including regional exploration targets in the Yilgarn Mineral Field, were active in 2012. In 2011, a significant permitting milestone was achieved with the granting of regulatory approvals necessary to develop above the water table at Windarling's W1 deposit. Over the past five years, the Koolyanobbing operation has produced between 7.3 million and 10.7 million tons annually. The expansion project at Koolyanobbing increasing annual capacity to 11 million metric tons was completed in 2012. Ore material is sourced from nine separate open pit mines and delivered by typical production trucks or road trains to a crushing and screening facility located at Koolyanobbing. All of the ore from the Koolyanobbing operations is transported by rail to the Port of Esperance, 360 miles to the south, for shipment to Asian customers.
In 2011, we received the environmental approvals necessary to explore the development of the Deception iron ore deposit located approximately 12 miles north of Windarling. In 2012, environmental approvals were obtained for the Deception mining proposal. We expect to obtain approval to commence the Deception project from the Department of Mines and Petroleum during the first quarter of 2013.
North American Coal
The following map shows the locations of our North American Coal operations as of December 31, 2012:
We directly own and operate three North American coal mining complexes from which we produced a total of 6.4 million, 5.0 million and 3.2 million short tons of coal in 2012, 2011 and 2010, respectively. Our coal production at each mine is shipped within the U.S. by rail or barge. Coal for international customers is shipped through the ports of Mobile, Alabama; Newport News, Virginia; and New Orleans, Louisiana.
Coal seams mined at all of our North American Coal operations are Pennsylvanian Age and derived from the Pocahontas 3 and 4 seams at the Pinnacle Complex and the Blue Creek Seam at Oak Grove, which produce high quality, low ash metallurgical products, while multiple seams are mined at the CLCC underground and surface mines producing both metallurgical and thermal products.
Primary Coal Type
Current Annual Capacity
(Tons in Millions)1
U/G Mine, Preparation Plant, Load-out
U/G Mine, Preparation Plant, Load-out
Cliffs Logan County Coal
U/G Mine, Preparation Plant, Load-out
Cliffs Logan County Coal
1 Annual Capacity is on a wet basis in millions of Short Tons, equivalent to 2,000 pounds.
The Pinnacle Complex includes the Pinnacle and Green Ridge mines and is located approximately 30 miles southwest of Beckley, West Virginia. The Pinnacle mine has been in operation since 1969. Over the past five years, the Pinnacle mine has produced between 0.7 million and 2.4 million tons of coal annually. The Green Ridge mines have been in operation since 2004 and have ranged from no production to 0.3 million tons of coal annually. In February 2010, the Green Ridge No. 1 mine was closed permanently due to exhaustion of the economic reserves at the mine. In addition, the Green Ridge No. 2 mine was idled in January 2012. Primary access to the Pinnacle mine is by shaft, while a drift entry is used at Green Ridge. Pinnacle utilizes continuous miners and a longwall plow system; Green Ridge utilizes only continuous miners. Both facilities share preparation, processing and load-out facilities.
The Oak Grove mine is located approximately 25 miles southwest of Birmingham, Alabama. The mine has been in operation since 1972. Over the past five years, the Oak Grove mine has produced between 0.9 million and 1.8 million tons of coal annually. In 2011 a new shaft and support facilities were commissioned in order to reduce the transport time for supplies and personnel to the working face. The previous shaft still is utilized in a support role. Oak Grove utilizes a long wall shear with continuous miners. Preparation, processing and rail load-out facilities are located on-site. The preparation plant at Oak Grove incurred significant tornado damage during 2011. The plant rebuild included new equipment and improvements to the process design that will enhance the performance of the plant. The preparation plant achieved operating capacity in January 2012.
Cliffs Logan County Coal
Cliffs Logan County Coal property is located within Boone, Logan and Wyoming counties in southern West Virginia. CLCC currently produces metallurgical and thermal coal from surface and underground mines that are served by a preparation plant and unit-train load out facility on the CSXT. Three underground mines, the Powellton No. 1, Dingess-Chilton and Lower War Eagle mines, produce high-volatile metallurgical coal using room and pillar retreat mining methods using continuous miner equipment. The Toney Fork No. 2 surface mine produces thermal coal with a combination of contour strip area mining and point removal methods.
The Powellton and Dingess-Chilton mines have been in operation since 2008. The Lower War Eagle mine was in development in 2011 and became fully operational in November 2012. Over the past five years, the Powellton mine has produced between 0.1 million and 0.8 million tons of coal annually and the Dingess-Chilton mine production has ranged from no production to 0.6 million tons of coal annually due to the ramp-up to full production. Lower War Eagle produced 0.1 million tons since moving out of the development phase. The Toney Fork No. 2 mine has been in operation since 2005. Over the past five years, the Toney Fork No. 2 mine has produced between 0.8 million and 1.5 million tons of coal annually.
Advanced Exploration and Development Properties
The following map shows the locations of our advanced exploration and development properties as of December 31, 2012:
We have several advanced exploration projects located in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Ontario and Québec in different stages of evaluation at this time. Work completed on these properties includes geological mapping, drilling and sampling programs, and initial and advance stage engineering studies.
Cliffs Chromite Ontario
Cliffs Chromite Ontario's primary assets are situated in the Ring of Fire Area, James Bay lowlands, of northern Ontario. These chromite properties are located approximately 155 miles north of the town of Nakina (on the CN railroad mainline) and about 50 miles east of the First Nations community of Webequie. We have a controlling position in three chromite deposits that occur in close proximity to each other; a 100 percent interest in each of the Black Label and Black Thor chromite deposits and a 70 percent interest in the Big Daddy chromite deposit. Cliffs has completed a prefeasibility study on the Black Thor deposit, the largest of the three deposits, and currently is working on a feasibility study to be completed by mid-year 2013.
These chromite deposits are orthomagmatic stratiform deposits of unusual thickness and size. Mineralization consists of chromite crystals [(Fe,Mg) (Cr,Al,Fe)2O4] ranging from massive chromite bands to interbedded and disseminated chromite.
The Decar Property is located 56 miles northwest of Fort St. James, British Columbia, Canada and consists of 60 mineral claims covering 94 square miles. We own a 51 percent interest in the Decar Property and First Point Minerals Corp. owns the remaining 49 percent. In 2012 and 2011, we performed exploration activities on the property as well as initiating a scoping study to further evaluate the potential economics and viability of an operation producing a high-grade nickel concentrate that could be marketable to various end users. Results of the scoping study are expected in 2013.
The mineralization consists of the nickel-iron alloy awaruite (Ni3Fe). Awaruite is disseminated in serpentinized peridotite; it occurs as relatively coarse grains between 50 to 400 µm in size. Awaruite has been observed throughout the entire extent of the peridotite but three zones of stronger mineralization have been identified. The four zones are the Baptiste, Sidney, Target B and Van targets. The largest target on the Decar Property is the Baptiste prospect.
Labrador Trough South
The Labrador Trough South property is located approximately 150 miles north of Sept-Iles and 30 miles southwest of the town of Fermont. Provincial highway 389 crosses the south and east sides of the property and provides year-round access. The property consists of a total of 636 claims covering roughly 130 square miles. Several areas containing iron mineralization have been further defined utilizing aerial geophysics, outcrop mapping and diamond drilling. These areas are known as: Lamêlée, Peppler Lake, Hobdad, Lac Jean and Faber. To date, most of the exploration efforts have focused on the first three areas. Cliffs acquired 100% ownership of the claims as part of the Consolidated Thompson acquisition in 2011. In 2012 Cliffs performed exploration activities at the Lamêlée, Peppler Lake and Hobdad targets.
The Labrador Trough South property is situated in the Knob Lake Group of sedimentary rocks including Lake Superior-type banded iron formations. Here, the Labrador Trough is crossed by the Grenville Front. Trough rocks in the Grenville Province are highly metamorphosed, complexly folded and structurally dislocated. The high-grade metamorphism of the Grenville Province is responsible for recrystallization of both iron oxides and silica producing coarse-grained sugary quartz, magnetite, specular hematite schists and gneisses that are of improved quality for concentrating and processing. Potentially recoverable minerals in the project are predominantly magnetite and subordinate hematite.
We have a corporate policy relating to internal control and procedures with respect to auditing and estimating of minerals. In 2012, we have revised our policy in regards to the estimation and reporting of mineralized materials and mineral reserves to better align with international best practices. The procedures contained in the policy include the calculation of mineral estimates at each property by professional mining engineers and geologists. Management compiles and reviews the calculations, and once finalized, such information is used to prepare the disclosures for our annual and quarterly reports. The disclosures are reviewed and approved by management, including our chief executive officer and chief financial officer. Additionally, the long-range mine planning and mineral estimates are reviewed annually by our Audit Committee. Furthermore, all changes to mineral estimates, other than those due to production, are adequately documented and submitted to senior operations officers for review and approval. Finally, we perform periodic reviews of long-range mine plans and mineral reserve estimates at mine staff meetings and senior management meetings. As we carry on to grow as an international mining company with a diversified mineral portfolio, our policies will continue to support the Company as it evolves.
Reserves are defined by SEC Industry Standard Guide 7 as that part of a mineral deposit that could be economically and legally extracted and produced at the time of the reserve determination. All reserves are classified as proven or probable and are supported by life-of-mine plans.
Reserve estimates are based on pricing that does not exceed the three-year trailing average of benchmark prices for iron ore and metallurgical coal. For the three-year period 2009 to 2011, the average international benchmark price of 62 percent Fe CFR China was $132 per dry metric ton. For low-vol coal, the 2009 to 2011 average price based on benchmarks was $212 per metric ton FOB Mobile, Alabama. The price of high-vol coal price for the same period averaged $180 per metric ton FOB Hampton Roads, Virginia.
We evaluate and analyze mineral reserve estimates every three years in accordance with our mineral policy or earlier if conditions merit. The table below identifies the year in which the latest reserve estimate was completed.
Date of Latest Economic
U.S. Iron Ore
Eastern Canadian Iron Ore
Asia Pacific Iron Ore
North American Coal
Iron Ore Reserves
Ore reserve estimates for our iron ore mines as of December 31, 2012 were estimated from fully designed open pits developed using three-dimensional modeling techniques. These fully designed pits incorporate design slopes, practical mining shapes and access ramps to assure the accuracy of our reserve estimates. New estimates were completed in 2012 for the following operations: Northshore and Hibbing. All other operations reserves are net of 2012 production as new estimates have not been completed.
U.S. Iron Ore
All tonnages reported for our U.S. Iron Ore operating segment are in long tons of 2,240 pounds, have been rounded to the nearest 100,000 and are reported on a 100 percent basis.
U.S. Iron Ore Mineral Reserves
as of December 31, 2012
(In Millions of Long Tons)
Proven & Probable
Saleable Product 2,3
P&P Crude Ore
1 Tilden Hematite reported grade is percent Total Iron all other properties are percent Magnetic Iron
2 Saleable Product is a standard pellet containing 60 to 66 percent Fe calculated from both proven and probable mineral reserves
3 Saleable product is reported on a dry basis, shipped products typically contain 1 to 4 percent moisture
4 Process recovery includes all factors for converting Crude Ore tonnage to Saleable Product
The reserve estimate for Hibbing is based on work completed by SRK (US) Consulting, Inc., third party independent consultants, who are experts in mining, geology and ore reserve estimation. SRK (US) Consulting, Inc. has consented to be named an expert herein.
New economic reserve analyses were completed for Hibbing and Northshore in 2012. Based on the analysis, saleable product reserves decreased by 16.4 million long tons at Hibbing, of which 7.8 million tons is a result of 2012 production and the remaining 8.6 million tons is a result of updated life-of-mine operating plans and production schedules. At Northshore, saleable product reserves increased by 51 million tons as a result of updated life-of-mine operating plans and production schedules, net of current year production.
All tonnages reported for our Eastern Canadian Iron Ore and Asia Pacific Iron Ore operating segments are in metric tons of 2,205 pounds, have been rounded to the nearest 100,000 and are reported on a 100 percent basis.
Eastern Canadian Iron Ore
Eastern Canadian Iron Ore Mineral Reserves
as of December 31, 2012
(In Millions of Metric Tons)
Proven & Probable
P&P Crude Ore
1 Wabush product is a standard pellet containing 65 percent Fe, Bloom Lake product is an iron concentrate containing 66 percent Fe calculated from both proven and probable mineral reserves.
2 Saleable product is reported on a dry basis, shipped products contain 2 to 3 percent moisture
3 Process recovery includes all factors for converting Crude Ore tonnage to Saleable Product
The reserve estimate for Bloom Lake is based on work completed by SRK Consulting (U.S.), Inc., third party independent consultants, who are experts in mining, geology and ore reserve estimation. SRK Consulting (U.S.), Inc. has consented to be named an expert herein.
Asia Pacific Iron Ore
Asia Pacific Iron Ore Mineral Reserves
as of December 31, 2012
(In Millions of Metric Tons)1
Proven & Probable
Previous Year Total
1 Tonnages reported are saleable product reported on a dry basis, shipped products contain 3 percent moisture
Coal reserves estimates for our North American underground and surface mines as of December 31, 2012 were estimated using three-dimensional modeling techniques, coupled with scheduled mine plans. The CLCC operations reserves have not changed net of 2012 mine production.
North American Coal
New economic reserve analyses were completed for Pinnacle and Oak Grove operations in 2012. Total recoverable coal reserves decreased 9.4 million short tons at Pinnacle and 1.7 million short tons at Oak Grove, net of 2012 production. The decrease is due to updated fully scheduled mine plans that considers coal that is currently under lease and that we have the ability to extract utilizing our current mining methods.
All tonnages reported for our North American Coal operating segment are in short tons of 2,000 pounds, have been rounded to the nearest 100,000 and are reported on a 100 percent basis.
Recoverable Coal Reserves
as of December 31, 2012
(In Millions of Short Tons)1
As Received Btu/lb
Pocahontas No 3
Pocahontas No 4
Blue Creek Seam
Cliffs Logan County Coal
1 Recoverable Coal is reported on a wet basis containing 6 percent moisture
2 Assigned reserves represent coal that can be mined without a significant capital expenditure, whereas unassigned reserves will require significant capital expenditures before production could be realized
3 CLCC thermal reserves do not meet U.S. compliance standards as defined by Phase II of the Clean Air Act as coal having a sulfur dioxide content of 1.2 pounds or less per million BTU
The reserve estimates for Pinnacle and CLCC are based on work completed by Cardno MM&A, third party independent consultants, who are experts in mining, geology and ore reserve estimation. Cardno MM&A has consented to be named an expert herein.
“Mineralized material” is a concentration or occurrence of natural, solid, inorganic or fossilized organic material in or on the Earth's crust in such form and quantity and of such a grade or quality that it has reasonable prospects for economic extraction. Mineralized material has been delineated by appropriate sampling to establish continuity and support an estimate of tonnage with an average grade of the selected metals, minerals or quality. We have various properties in either the advanced exploration, development or operational stages that contain considerable amounts of mineralized material that could eventually be converted into reserves given favorable operating and market conditions. Future production from mineralized material would require additional economic and engineering studies, permitting and significant capital expenditures before any potential value could be realized. A deposit of mineralized material does not qualify as a reserve until a comprehensive evaluation, based upon unit costs, grade, recoveries and other material factors, concludes both economic and legal feasibility. Further, for new projects a “final” or “bankable” feasibility study is required prior to the reporting of mineral reserves.
Readers are cautioned not to assume that any of these mineralized materials will ever be converted into mineral reserves. Our mineralized material estimates only contain material classified as measured or indicated. Materials classified as inferred have a greater amount of uncertainty as to their future ability to be upgraded and are not included in the estimates reported.
All tonnages are reported in metric tons of 2,205 pounds, have been rounded to the nearest 100,000 and are reported on a 100 percent basis.
Cliffs Chromite Ontario
As previously mentioned, the chromite project is an advanced exploration project that is currently in the feasibility study stage. We hold mineral interests in three currently defined deposits that contain mineralized materials. This estimate is based on work completed by Sibley Basin Group Geological Consulting Services Ltd., third party independent consultants, who are experts in mineral estimation. Sibley Basin Group Geological Consulting Services Ltd. has consented to be named an expert herein.
Mineralized Material Not in Reserves
as of December 31, 2012
(In Millions of Metric Tons)
1 Includes only materials classified as measured and indicated
2 Cutoff grade is 20 percent Cr2O3 for all deposits
As previously mentioned, the Decar property is a nickel exploration project that is currently in the scoping study stage. Exploration and early stage studies have defined mineralized material estimates for the Baptiste deposit located on the Decar property. This estimate is based on work completed by Caracle Creek International Consulting Inc., third party independent consultants, who are experts in mineral estimation. Caracle Creek International Consulting Inc. has consented to be named an expert herein.
Mineralized Material Not in Reserves
as of December 31, 2012
(In Millions of Metric Tons)
1 Includes only materials classified as measured and indicated
2 Cutoff grade is 0.06 percent Davis Tube Recoverable Nickel
Labrador Trough South
As previously mentioned, Labrador Trough South is a collection of iron deposits acquired in the purchase of Consolidated Thompson. In 2012, we conducted exploration activities and have updated the mineralized material estimates for several of the deposits. This estimate is based on work completed by G H Wahl & Associates Consulting, third party independent consultants, who are experts in mineral estimation. They have consented to be named an expert herein.
Mineralized Material Not in Reserves
as of December 31, 2012
(In Millions of Metric Tons)
1 Includes only materials classified as measured and indicated
2 Cutoff grade is 18 percent Total Iron
Alabama Dust Litigation. There are currently three cases in the Alabama state court system that comprise the Alabama Dust Litigation. Generally, these claims are brought by nearby homeowners who allege that dust emanating from the Concord Preparation Plant causes damage to their health. All three of these cases have been referred to mediation and we intend to defend all of these cases vigorously. It is possible that these types of complaints may continue to be filed in the future, but the overall impact of these cases is not anticipated currently to have a material financial impact on our business.
Ash Landfill at Northshore Mining Silver Bay Plant Site. On January 3, 2012, Northshore Mining received a NOV from the MPCA alleging improper handling of leachate collected from the lined coal ash landfill that Northshore operates to manage coal ash from Silver Bay Power. The pH of the leachate temporarily had been elevated above permissible levels. On March 6, 2012, Northshore received a draft of a stipulation agreement to resolve the issues set forth in the January 3, 2012 NOV. The draft stipulation agreement was finalized and executed on October 29, 2012. The stipulation agreement requires a few additional corrective actions beyond the response work already initiated by Northshore, but imposed a civil penalty of approximately $243,000 and a Supplemental Environmental Project amounting to $50,000.
Bloom Lake Investigation. CQIM, Bloom Lake General Partner Limited, and Bloom Lake currently are being investigated by Environment Canada in relation to alleged violations of Section 36(3) of the Fisheries Act that prohibits the deposit of a deleterious substance in water frequented by fish or in any place where the deleterious substance may enter any such water and Section 40(3) of the Fisheries Act in relation to an alleged failure to comply with a direction of an inspector. Based on current information, the investigation covers several alleged incidents that occurred between April 2011 and October 2012. Bloom Lake has been informed that the Quebec Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks has commenced an investigation into alleged violations of the Environment Quality Act related to incidents involving alleged releases of suspended solids to the environment in early August 2012 and in September 2012. At this stage, Cliffs is cooperating with Environment Canada and the Quebec Ministry and, although the possible outcome of the investigations and the risk of loss cannot be determined, we do not believe they will have a material financial impact to the Company.
EPSL Arbitration. On December 20, 2012, Esperance Port Authority (trading as Esperance Port Sea and Land) and Cliffs Asia Pacific Iron Ore Pty Ltd nominated an arbitrator to determine disputes that have arisen between the parties in relation to the proper construction and operation of certain clauses in the operating agreement that was first made between the parties on September 25, 2000 (as varied). Among several other issues, we are in dispute with EPSL over the "maximum tonnage" that EPSL is obligated to handle and, in particular, whether EPSL legally is obligated to handle 11.5 million tonnes per annum of ore. The operating agreement does not expressly include a maximum or minimum annual tonnage provision, but has a clause setting forth the minimum take-or-pay obligations. We assert that the maximum tonnage for which EPSL is obliged to provide the services is the capacity of the port at any given time to handle iron ore. A preliminary conference is scheduled for February 18, 2013 at which time the parties anticipate that the arbitrator will make directions and rulings with respect to procedural and evidentiary matters. We intend to defend our positions vigorously under the operating agreement.
Fugitive Dust / PM10 at Northshore Mining Silver Bay Plant Site. Northshore and the MPCA entered into a Stipulation Agreement dated February 10, 2012. The Stipulation Agreement pertains to alleged violations at Northshore’s Silver Bay facility that were discovered during a review of ambient air monitoring results and in response to complaints to the MPCA. The allegations include violations of National and State Ambient Air Quality Standards for PM10. As part of the Stipulation Agreement, the MPCA assessed a civil penalty in the amount of approximately $240,000 and a Supplemental Environmental Project to cost at least $80,000.
Maritime Asbestos Litigation. The Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company and/or The Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company have been named defendants in 489 actions brought from 1986 to date by former seamen in which the plaintiffs claim damages under federal law for illnesses in varying levels of severity allegedly suffered as the result of exposure to airborne asbestos fibers while serving as crew members aboard the vessels previously owned or managed by our entities until the mid-1980s. All of these actions have been consolidated into multidistrict proceedings in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, along with approximately 30,000 other cases from various jurisdictions throughout the United States that were filed by seamen against ship-owners and other defendants. Through a series of court orders, the docket has been reduced to approximately 3,500 active cases, of which we are a named defendant in 76. These cases are in the discovery phase. The court has dismissed the remainder of the cases without prejudice. Those dismissed cases could be reinstated upon application by plaintiffs’ counsel. The claims against our entities are insured in amounts that vary by policy year; however, the manner in which these retentions will be applied remains uncertain. Our entities continue to vigorously contest these claims and have made no settlements on them.
Pinnacle Mine Environmental Litigation. On June 22, 2010, the West Virginia DEP filed a lawsuit in the Wyoming County Circuit Court against the Pinnacle mine and other West Virginia coal mining operations alleging non-compliance with its NPDES discharge permit. The complaint alleges various exceedances of the permit’s effluent quality limits and seeks injunctive relief and penalties. An initial penalty proposal of $1.0 million was received in March 2012. Pinnacle has implemented a selenium control plan and installed effective control measures. Pinnacle disagrees with numerous alleged violations and has met with the West Virginia DEP to present facts supporting a review and possible reduction of the proposed penalty.
The Rio Tinto Mine Site. The Rio Tinto Mine Site is a historic underground copper mine located near Mountain City, Nevada, where tailings were placed in Mill Creek, a tributary to the Owyhee River. Site investigation and remediation work is being conducted in accordance with a Consent Order dated September 14, 2001 between the NDEP and the RTWG composed of the Company, Atlantic Richfield Company, Teck Cominco American Incorporated and E. I. duPont de Nemours and Company. The Consent Order provides for technical review by the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, the NDEP and the Shoshone-Paiute Tribe of the Duck Valley Reservation (collectively, "Rio Tinto Trustees"). In recognition of the potential for an NRD claim, the parties actively pursued a global settlement that would include the EPA and encompass both the remedial action and the NRD issues.
The NDEP published a Record of Decision for the Rio Tinto Mine, which was signed on February 14, 2012 by the NDEP and the EPA. On September 27, 2012, the agencies subsequently issued a proposed Consent Decree, which was lodged with the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada and opened for 30-day public comment on October 4, 2012. Under the terms of the Consent Decree, RTWG has agreed to pay $25 million in cleanup costs and natural resource damages to the site and surrounding area. The Company's share of the total settlement cost, which includes remedial action, insurance and other oversight costs, is anticipated to be approximately $12 million.
Under the terms of the Consent Decree, the RTWG will be responsible for removing mine tailings from Mill Creek, improving the creek to support redband trout and improving water quality in Mill Creek and the East Fork Owyhee River. Previous cleanup projects included filling in old mine shafts, grading and covering leach pads and tailings, and building diversion ditches. NDEP will oversee the cleanup, with input from EPA and monitoring from the nearby Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of Duck Valley.
WISCO Arbitration. Our wholly owned subsidiary, CQIM, along with Bloom Lake General Partner Limited, of which we own 75 percent, were named as respondents in an arbitration claim filed by WISCO under the Ontario Arbitration Act of 1991. WISCO filed the arbitration claim in February 2012 pursuant to the dispute resolution provisions of the Amended and Restated Limited Partnership Agreement and the Shareholders’ Agreement, both of which govern the respective interests of the parties in Bloom Lake. The parties negotiated and executed a settlement of the claim in December 2012 and the arbitral proceeding was terminated by mutual consent in January 2013. The terms of the settlement are confidential and the settlement amount is not material.
Mine Safety Disclosures
We are committed to protecting the occupational health and well-being of each of our employees. Safety is one of our Company’s core values, and we strive to ensure that safe production is the first priority for all employees. Our internal objective is to achieve zero injuries and incidents across the Company by focusing on proactively identifying needed prevention activities, establishing standards and evaluating performance to mitigate any potential loss to people, equipment, production and the environment. We have implemented intensive employee training that is geared toward maintaining a high level of awareness and knowledge of safety and health issues in the work environment through the development and coordination of requisite information, skills and attitudes. We believe that through these policies, our Company has developed an effective safety management system.
Under the Dodd-Frank Act, each operator of a coal or other mine is required to include certain mine safety results within its periodic reports filed with the SEC. As required by the reporting requirements included in §1503(a) of the Dodd-Frank Act and Item 104 of Regulation S-K, the required mine safety results regarding certain mining safety and health matters for each of our mine locations that are covered under the scope of the Dodd-Frank Act are included in Exhibit 95 of Item 15. Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Stock Exchange Information
Our common shares (ticker symbol CLF) are listed on the NYSE and the Professional Segment of NYSE Euronext Paris.
Common Share Price Performance and Dividends
The following table sets forth, for the periods indicated, the high and low sales prices per common share as reported on the NYSE and the dividends declared per common share:
We expect to continue paying a cash dividend to shareholders; however, the amount of our quarterly dividend will be reduced in the near term to $0.15 per share.
At February 11, 2013, we had 1,436 shareholders of record.
Shareholder Return Performance
The following graph shows changes over the past five-year period in the value of $100 invested in: (1) Cliffs' common shares; (2) S&P 500 Stock Index; (3) S&P 500 Steel Group Index; and (4) S&P Midcap 400 Index. The values of each investment are based on price change plus reinvestment of all dividends reported to shareholders.
Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.
S&P 500 Index - Total Returns
S&P 500 Steel Index
S&P Midcap 400 Index
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Selected Financial Data
Summary of Financial and Other Statistical Data
Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. and Subsidiaries
Financial data (in millions, except per share amounts) *
Revenue from product sales and services
Cost of goods sold and operating expenses
Other operating expense
Operating income (loss)
Income (loss) from continuing operations
Income (loss) and gain on sale from discontinued operations, net of tax
Net income (loss)
Less: Income (loss) attributable to noncontrolling interest
Net income (loss) attributable to Cliffs shareholders
Preferred stock dividends
Income (loss) attributable to Cliffs common shareholders
Earnings (loss) per common share attributable to
Cliffs shareholders - basic
Earnings (loss) per common share attributable to
Cliffs shareholders - basic