CEO Shares Strategies on Keeping Cliffs Successful and Sustainable

April 19, 2017 07:17 PM

Being in business for 170 years is nothing to sneeze at. And the leader of Cliffs Natural Resources spent time in Duluth talking about why the company has been successful, especially in recent years.

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Lourenco Goncalves was the final speaker at this year's SME Conference.

He told the crowd that Cliffs is environmentally friendly, efficient, and creative.

As for how they maintain the company's success and sustainabilty, Goncalves touched on a few things.  One, is the bottom line: Price of the product.

"The mining business, like all other business, is about price," he said. But protecting the price, can't just be about cutting costs, he said.

Spending money is important too, and should be done with great care. In fact, Goncalves said he alone is responsible for making those allocation decisions. "Everything that goes right, and everything that goes wrong, you can blame me. One mistake will create a serious issue 5-10 years down the road, and the next generation will pay for your mistakes. So this is serious stuff."

Another key strength is the people. "We are proud to hire the sons and daughters of employees. Because that's what gives us the ability to have a culture, surrounding mining," Goncalves said.

Speaking of the future, Goncalves acknowledged his continued desire to access the ore at the former Essar Steel site in Nashwauk, for a potential DRI facility in Minnesota. "The site is perfect for that, the ore is perfect for that. But it's not the only ore in the world. We are making a DRI grade pellet at Northshore already." He maintains that DRI is the future, for both electric arc furnace and blast furnace producers.

That decision about the Essar site is out of his hands. But he continues to focus on long-term planning, for Cliffs' next 100 years.


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