Posted at: 02/20/2013 4:51 PM
Updated at: 02/20/2013 10:29 PM
By: Renee Passal
After a tough 2012 financially, Cliffs Natural Resources is poised to stabilize the company and move forward in all of their different sectors. This was the news at the annual community breakfast in Virginia, where over 100 people came to hear the plans for the future.
Cliffs leaders said that they're looking at a strong North American ore market, and growth in China. They are also planning ahead for a surge in stainless steel in China.
Also, the planning for a nearly pure iron pellet that could feed a Direct Reduced Iron plant is still in the works. "It's not if, it's when. And it's likely both Northshore and United Taconite, although Northshore may have fewer hurdles with permitting and capital investment," said Kelly Tompkins, Executive Vice President. "We also need to see a customer, ideally in the Great Lakes region."
He's referring to someone building a DRI plant in the region. DRI products are a more energy efficient way to make steel.
As for the domestic iron ore market, the company expects to produce 20 million tons. Two million of those will be shipped to Asia.
There will be over $50 million dollars invested in the plants in the United States, which include three in Minnesota and two in Michigan. Cliffs owns Northshore, United Taconite, and partially owns Hibbing Taconite.
They also continue to invest in their major project in Canada, the Bloom Lake mine.
Challenges include the ever-changing environmental regulations that are under scrutiny in Minnesota. And steel imports from China are also an issue at times.
However, the outlook is positive for 2013.