COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
|6 Months Ended
Jun. 30, 2012
|COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
NOTE 19 – COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
In 2011, we incurred capital commitments related to the expansion of the Bloom Lake mine. The expansion project requires a capital investment of over $1.3 billion for the Phase II expansion of the mine and the mine’s processing capabilities. The capital investment also includes common infrastructure necessary to sustain current operations and support the expansion. Through June 30, 2012, approximately $819 million of the total capital investment required for the Bloom Lake expansion project had been committed, of which a total of approximately $369 million had been expended. Of the remaining committed capital, expenditures of approximately $450 million are expected to be made during the remainder of 2012 and in 2013.
In 2011, we entered into an agreement with the rail service provider for the rail lines used by our Koolyanobbing operations to upgrade the existing rail line. The upgrade is being performed to enhance safety and improve functionality of the rail. The improvements include the replacement of rail and associated parts. As a result, our portion of the related purchase commitment is approximately $33 million for replacements and improvements to the rail structure. Through June 30, 2012, our capital expenditures related to this purchase were approximately $17 million. Remaining expenditures of approximately $16 million are expected to be made throughout 2013 and 2014.
We incurred capital commitments related to an expansion project at our Empire and Tilden mines in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in 2010. The expansion project requires a capital investment of approximately $245 million, of which $203 million has been committed as of June 30, 2012, and is expected to allow for production capacity at the Empire mine to produce at three million tons annually through 2014 and increase Tilden mine production capacity by an additional two million tons annually over this same period. Through June 30, 2012, total capital expenditures related to this commitment were approximately $169 million. Of the committed capital, expenditures of approximately $32 million and $2 million are scheduled to be made during the remainder of 2012 and in 2013, respectively.
We are currently a party to various claims and legal proceedings incidental to our operations. If management believes that a loss arising from these matters is probable and can reasonably be estimated, we record the amount of the loss, or the minimum estimated liability when the loss is estimated using a range, and no point within the range is more probable than another. As additional information becomes available, any potential liability related to these matters is assessed and the estimates are revised, if necessary. Based on currently available information, management believes that the ultimate outcome of these matters, individually and in the aggregate, will not have a material effect on our financial position, results of operations or cash flows. However, litigation is subject to inherent uncertainties, and unfavorable rulings could occur. An unfavorable ruling could include monetary damages, additional funding requirements or an injunction. If an unfavorable ruling were to occur, there exists the possibility of a material impact on the financial position and results of operations of the period in which the ruling occurs, or future periods. However, we believe that any pending litigation will not result in a material liability in relation to our unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements.