Cliffs 2011 Michigan Report

One of Marquette County’s major employers is saying 2011 was a banner year.

Along with the acquisition of Consolidated Thompson, Cliffs Natural Resources doubled the quarterly cash dividend rate to its shareholders.

Cliffs made it to the Fortune 500 and came in at number 7 on the Barron’s 500 America’s Top Companies list.

But there were some disappointments.

Cliffs executive vice president Donald Gallagher says the Renewafuel venture, which the company sold last year, fits in the ‘disappointment’ category.

He says Renewafuel never developed into a product or a production process that Cliffs could support.

Gallagher says the recently-abandoned new iron nugget joint venture at the Empire Mine with Kobe Steel of Japan is another disappointment.

He says both companies spent great sums of money on the venture, and it enjoyed great community support.

However, Gallagher says the technology just wasn’t ready for prime time.

Cliffs executives were in Marquette today to give community leaders an update on the company’s Michigan operations.

Cliffs reported $6.8 billion of revenue in 2011, a company record.

That figure was up by more than 45% from 2010.

Cliffs officials say the outlook for 2012 is positive for the company, for employees and the community.

Cliffs chief legal officer Kelly Tompkins says from the Board of Directors to the company’s miners, the company doesn’t take the communities in which it does business for granted.

He says those relationships are crucial to being able to make decisions that are sometimes very tough.

Although there may not be huge growth coming in North America, Cliffs officials say the company’s sights are set on the demands and needs of emerging markets, one of which is China.

Posted by: Mike Hoey