NEW YORK Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. will idle parts of its iron ore operations at Northshore Mining in Minnesota and at Empire Mine in Michigan, it said Monday.
The iron ore and metallurgical coal producer cited greater iron ore pricing volatility and lower North American steelmaking utilization rates.
Cleveland-based Cliffs is also delaying sections of its second-phase expansion at its Bloom Lake Mine in Quebec, and is adjusting 2013 operating plans for its North American iron ore business to align with expected sales volumes.
Cliffs will idle two of the four production mines at Northshore Mining on Jan. 5, also temporarily idling output at its Empire Mine in the second quarter of 2013 by taking a summer shutdown, it said.
Full-year 2013 U.S. iron ore sales volumes are expected to remain unchanged at 19 million to 20 million tons.
"We believe it is prudent and necessary to match our production volumes with market demand," Laurie Brlas, president of global operations, said, noting that Cliffs will remain operationally flexible to ramp up volumes throughout the year if demand increases.
Cliffs plans to suspend completion of Bloom Lakes concentrator and loadout facility, it said, adding that the delay of second-phase construction there decreases its 2013 eastern Canadian iron ore sales volume estimate to 9 million to 10 million tons from 13 million to 14 million tons.
Depending on market conditions, Cliffs expects to complete second-phase construction in early 2014.
"In 2013, the company expects to achieve an annualized run rate of about 7 million tons for Bloom Lakes Phase I facility," it added.
A version of this story was first published by AMM sister publication Steel First