Cliffs Natural Resources' new CEO speaks to industry leaders

By KBJR News 1

March 6, 2014 Updated Mar 6, 2014 at 7:38 PM CDT

Virginia, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Cliffs Natural Resources appointed Gary Halverson as CEO in February.

Thursday he met with industry leaders to update them on Cliffs' operations in Minnesota.

Halverson focused on what he calls a "shrink to grow" method of financial discipline and cost control.

"What we do control is how efficiently we operate our operating costs and how safely we mine and creating opportunities," said Halverson to the group, "Those are the things we want to focus on."

As part of keeping costs down, Halverson says the company plans to spend between $375-425 million in capital expenditures this year. Last year he says they spent $860 million.

"We're still spending capital where it is needed," he said, "But our real focus is on that discipline and need to make sure we have return on equity investment."

Meanwhile, Halverson is optimistic about the testing of Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) pellets at its Northshore mine. He says 30,000 tons have been tested, now they need to find a customer.

"We've got to focus in on [whether we can] produce the product, which we've proved up at Northshore. The next thing is to look at the development. Obviously, you need a customer base. The customer base isn't there today," said Halverson, "So, we're ahead of the curve, which is a good place to be, but we have to look at what those developments would be. Then we have the expansion capabilities, but the first thing is to develop a market into our area of the Great Lakes."

Halverson says most of the company's product will be shipped domestically this year, except for about a million tons which will go overseas.

Jennifer Austin
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