Northshore Mining to re-open by May 15

Cliffs Natural Resources announced Monday it will be restarting iron ore pellet production at its Northshore Mining operation in Babbitt and Silver Bay by May 15, 2016.

The company said it is taking such action based on its domestic customers' demand for iron ore pellets and consistent with its previously announced production plans for the year.

Cliffs' Northshore Mining iron ore operation is comprised of a mine in Babbitt and a taconite pellet processing facility located in Silver Bay.

The operation employs approximately 540 employees.

Cliffs is also operating at normal rates at its Hibbing Taconite mine in Minnesota, as well as the Tilden and Empire mines in Michigan. Cliffs' United Taconite operations in Minnesota are currently idled.

Lourenco Goncalves, Cliffs' Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, said, "The avalanche of unfairly traded steel hitting the U.S. since last year negatively affected our clients' production levels and, as a consequence, affected us. At this time, with the trade cases approaching their final stages and preliminary duties being announced, the volume of unfairly traded steel is starting to subside. As our clients' order books improve and their need for pellets approach more normal levels, we are pleased to announce that we are bringing back to work our dedicated employees at Northshore."

Goncalves added: "In 2015, Cliffs developed at Northshore Mining a new product, the DR-grade pellets used as feedstock to DRI production. As we restart operations at Northshore in May, we will also resume the production of DR-grade pellets destined to EAF clients."

In accordance with Cliffs' 2016 full-year anticipated USIO production volume of 16 million tons, the company is maintaining its previous cash production cost per ton expectations for 2016 at $50 to $55 per ton and its cash cost of goods sold expectation is $55 to $60 per ton.