Cliffs' CEO says automakers are restarting production

Updated: May 11, 2020 09:07 PM

The CEO of Cleveland-Cliffs remained optimistic about the future, even though we're in the middle of a pandemic.

"We have been encouraged by the timing and pace of production restarts announced across the automotive industry," Lourenco Goncalves said on Monday's earnings call. 

According to Goncalves, some companies are ramping up this week, with the Big Three ramping up next week.

"Car ownership is trending again. as private cars are perceived, rightfully so, as a sanctuary, safe from infection," Goncalves said.

At Kia of Duluth, they are seeing a boost in new car sales. "The manufacturers put out some really good deals that are really compelling, which is pulling in some people to the market. We are actually tracking quite a bit ahead last year for new cars at this point, and so we are pretty excited about that, " shared General Manager Brad Nelson. 

Because of COVID-19 slowdowns, Cliffs idled Northshore Mining and Tilden. "We expect our operations to normalize throughout the balance of the second quarter," Goncalves said.

They also suspended construction at their HBI facility in Toledo. He said they hope to restart construction on the HBI facility soon. Goncalves said he estimated it would take about three months to finish work on the plant, before it can begin producing HBI.

Goncalves also thanked employees for their dedication during this crisis. "I couldn't ask for more dedicated people to navigate this crisis with me. You have been deemed essential by states we operate in. And you have always been essential to the long-term health of our company."

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