Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. announced today that it will indefinitely idle its Indiana Harbor #4 blast furnace (IH#4). This action is a result of the successful implementation of operational improvements, particularly the addition of significant amounts of HBI to the burden of blast furnaces and the maximization of scrap usage in BOFs. The employees allocated to IH#4 will be reassigned to other positions within Indiana Harbor Works, as the number of available job openings at the Indiana Harbor complex exceeds the amount of jobs associated with IH#4. The Company will continue normal operations of the entire Indiana Harbor Works, including its two steel shops, the hot strip mill and all its finishing facilities, as well as the nearby Riverdale Works. With both Indiana Harbor blast furnaces #3 and #4 now indefinitely idled, going forward, all downstream operations including Riverdale Works will be supplied exclusively by the Company’s flagship high-productivity IH#7 blast furnace.
The IH#4 furnace, which has a production capacity of 2.1 million net tons of hot metal per year, is expected to cease production within the next two months. This action will reduce the number of operational blast furnaces in Cliffs’ footprint from 8 to 7. The Company does not expect any change to full-year 2022 steel shipment volumes as a result of the indefinite idle of IH#4.
Separately, the Company will also notify its customers that, based on a stronger inflow of new orders, it is increasing current spot market base prices for all April orders of carbon hot rolled, cold rolled and coated steel products by a minimum of $50 per net ton.
Lourenco Goncalves, Cliffs’ Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer said, “Our strategy of increasing productivity at our ironmaking and steelmaking facilities through the use of both in-house produced HBI and additional scrap has allowed us to reduce coke rate and consequently reduce CO2 emissions, as well as to stretch hot metal utilization and still be able to produce similar amounts of crude steel with fewer blast furnaces. Said another way, by concentrating the operation and maximizing productivity at IH#7 we are improving our carbon footprint and, at the same time, lowering our cost structure for the same level of steel production and shipments. Most importantly, as we have enough job openings on site for all impacted employees, we are now able to fill several available job openings at Indiana Harbor Works with the current workforce of IH#4.”
About Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.
Cleveland-Cliffs is the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America. Founded in 1847 as a mine operator, Cliffs also is the largest manufacturer of iron ore pellets in North America. The Company is vertically integrated from mined raw materials, direct reduced iron, and ferrous scrap to primary steelmaking and downstream finishing, stamping, tooling, and tubing. We are the largest supplier of steel to the automotive industry in North America and serve a diverse range of other markets due to our comprehensive offering of flat-rolled steel products. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland-Cliffs employs approximately 26,000 people across its operations in the United States and Canada.
This release contains statements that constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the federal securities laws. All statements other than historical facts, including, without limitation, statements regarding our current expectations, estimates and projections about our industry or our businesses, are forward-looking statements. We caution investors that any forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results and future trends to differ materially from those matters expressed in or implied by such forward-looking statements. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Among the risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ from those described in forward-looking statements are the following: disruptions to our operations relating to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including the heightened risk that a significant portion of our workforce or on-site contractors may suffer illness or otherwise be unable to perform their ordinary work functions; continued volatility of steel, iron ore and scrap metal market prices, which directly and indirectly impact the prices of the products that we sell to our customers; uncertainties associated with the highly competitive and cyclical steel industry and our reliance on the demand for steel from the automotive industry, which has been experiencing a trend toward light weighting and supply chain disruptions, such as the semiconductor shortage, that could result in lower steel volumes being consumed; potential weaknesses and uncertainties in global economic conditions, excess global steelmaking capacity, oversupply of iron ore, prevalence of steel imports and reduced market demand, including as a result of the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic; severe financial hardship, bankruptcy, temporary or permanent shutdowns or operational challenges, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic or otherwise, of one or more of our major customers, including customers in the automotive market, key suppliers or contractors, which, among other adverse effects, could lead to reduced demand for our products, increased difficulty collecting receivables, and customers and/or suppliers asserting force majeure or other reasons for not performing their contractual obligations to us; risks related to U.S. government actions with respect to Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 (as amended by the Trade Act of 1974), the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and/or other trade agreements, tariffs, treaties or policies, as well as the uncertainty of obtaining and maintaining effective antidumping and countervailing duty orders to counteract the harmful effects of unfairly traded imports; impacts of existing and increasing governmental regulation, including potential environmental regulations relating to climate change and carbon emissions, and related costs and liabilities, including failure to receive or maintain required operating and environmental permits, approvals, modifications or other authorizations of, or from, any governmental or regulatory authority and costs related to implementing improvements to ensure compliance with regulatory changes, including potential financial assurance requirements; potential impacts to the environment or exposure to hazardous substances resulting from our operations; our ability to maintain adequate liquidity, our level of indebtedness and the availability of capital could limit our financial flexibility and cash flow necessary to fund working capital, planned capital expenditures, acquisitions, and other general corporate purposes or ongoing needs of our business; our ability to reduce our indebtedness or return capital to shareholders within the currently expected timeframes or at all; adverse changes in credit ratings, interest rates, foreign currency rates and tax laws; the outcome of, and costs incurred in connection with, lawsuits, claims, arbitrations or governmental proceedings relating to commercial and business disputes, environmental matters, government investigations, occupational or personal injury claims, property damage, labor and employment matters, or suits involving legacy operations and other matters; supply chain disruptions or changes in the cost or quality of energy sources, including electricity, natural gas and diesel fuel, or critical raw materials and supplies, including iron ore, industrial gases, graphite electrodes, scrap metal, chrome, zinc, coke and metallurgical coal; problems or disruptions associated with transporting products to our customers, moving manufacturing inputs or products internally among our facilities, or suppliers transporting raw materials to us; uncertainties associated with natural or human-caused disasters, adverse weather conditions, unanticipated geological conditions, critical equipment failures, infectious disease outbreaks, tailings dam failures and other unexpected events; disruptions in, or failures of, our information technology systems, including those related to cybersecurity; liabilities and costs arising in connection with any business decisions to temporarily idle or permanently close an operating facility or mine, which could adversely impact the carrying value of associated assets and give rise to impairment charges or closure and reclamation obligations, as well as uncertainties associated with restarting any previously idled operating facility or mine; our ability to realize the anticipated synergies and benefits of our recent acquisition transactions and to successfully integrate the acquired businesses into our existing businesses, including uncertainties associated with maintaining relationships with customers, vendors and employees and known and unknown liabilities we assumed in connection with the acquisitions; our level of self-insurance and our ability to obtain sufficient third-party insurance to adequately cover potential adverse events and business risks; challenges to maintaining our social license to operate with our stakeholders, including the impacts of our operations on local communities, reputational impacts of operating in a carbon-intensive industry that produces greenhouse gas emissions, and our ability to foster a consistent operational and safety track record; our ability to successfully identify and consummate any strategic capital investments or development projects, cost-effectively achieve planned production rates or levels, and diversify our product mix and add new customers; our actual economic mineral reserves or reductions in current mineral reserve estimates, and any title defect or loss of any lease, license, easement or other possessory interest for any mining property; availability of workers to fill critical operational positions and potential labor shortages caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as our ability to attract, hire, develop and retain key personnel; our ability to maintain satisfactory labor relations with unions and employees; unanticipated or higher costs associated with pension and OPEB obligations resulting from changes in the value of plan assets or contribution increases required for unfunded obligations; the amount and timing of any repurchases of our common shares; and potential significant deficiencies or material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting.
For additional factors affecting the business of Cliffs, refer to Part I – Item 1A. Risk Factors of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021, and other filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
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