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CEO of Cleveland-Cliffs Updates Range and Mining Leaders

Updated: March 05, 2019 06:27 PM

At the annual state of the company lunch in Chisholm on Tuesday, Lourenco Goncalves started out like this. "It's good to be here. Together, we've done a lot," he said.

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The CEO of Cleveland-Cliffs focused on several things during his presentation, including profits, partnerships, and making the steel industry cleaner.

Also, he still has plans for Nashwauk. "I have hope that the Walz administration will fix what was broken from the previous administration," Goncalves said. He wants Walz to take the state mineral leases away from Mesabi Metallics, so Cliffs can make a move for them. He said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen's actions to debar Essar from doing business in the state is a good sign.

Ore from Nashwauk could have fed Hibbing Taconite, which is nearing the end of its mine life. Cliffs will no longer manage the facility come August. "Can we save Hibbing Taconite? Absolutely. We've gotta act now. Time is up," he said to the crowd.

As for the potential restart at Empire in Michigan, he explained, "I'm not going to invest $650 million dollars into Empire without an offtake agreement. I don't have that yet. Especially if I need $650 million dollars to invest here in Nashwauk. I'd prefer to invest it here." 

He also emphasized that although Hibbing Taconite's tailings dam was built with the same method as one that failed in Brazil, there are big differences. "There's nothing wrong with the method, if you manage it right."

He showed progress at their HBI plant in Toledo, which is an $840 million dollar investment. DR grade pellets from Northshore Mining will feed that plant, and Cliffs is in the middle of a $90 million dollar project to upgrade the plant. "It's ongoing and it's a huge investment," he noted, although far less money than the actual HBI facility itself.

Meanwhile, they are preparing for another big year, building on the successes of the past. He also visited with steelworkers at the plants.

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