Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. Announces Temporary Production Halt at Its West Virginia Coal Operations

CLEVELAND--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: CLF) announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Pinnacle Mining Company, LLC ("Pinnacle"), will temporarily halt production at its Pinnacle Mine Complex. Plans call for the production shutdown, which will affect approximately 360 employees, to begin Monday, Feb. 2, and run through Feb. 28. Cliffs indicated the 2009 production plan at the Pinnacle Complex called for the mines to produce approximately 85,000 tons in February. Mine management met Friday afternoon with local leadership of the United Mine Workers of America to notify them of the production curtailment.

The Pinnacle Complex, which is located near Pineville, WV, includes the Pinnacle and Green Ridge #1 and Green Ridge #2 mines and the Pinnacle Preparation Plant. The Pinnacle and Green Ridge #1 mines both will halt production during February, while the prep plant will operate on a reduced schedule to serve customer requirements. The Green Ridge #2 mine was previously idled.

Pinnacle produces metallurgical coal for the steel industry. Metallurgical coal demand has been reduced as the steel industry has cut back production in the face of the global economic slowdown.

"The month-long production curtailment at Pinnacle is necessary to balance our production and inventory with customer demand," said Duke Vetor, senior vice president, Cliffs North American Coal.

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Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., headquartered in Cleveland, is an international mining company, the largest producer of iron ore pellets in North America and a major supplier of metallurgical coal to the global steelmaking industry. The Company operates six iron ore mines in Michigan, Minnesota and Eastern Canada, and owns three coking coal mines in West Virginia and Alabama. Cliffs also wholly owns Portman Limited, a large iron ore mining company in Australia, serving the Asian iron ore markets with direct-shipping fines and lump ore. In addition, the Company has a 30% interest in the Amapa Project, a Brazilian iron ore project, and a 45% economic interest in the Sonoma Project, an Australian coking and thermal coal project.

News releases and other information on the Company are available on the Internet at: or

This news release contains predictive statements that are intended to be made as "forward-looking" within the safe harbor protections of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Although the Company believes that its forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such statements are subject to risk and uncertainties.

Actual results may differ materially from such statements for a variety of reasons, including: the length and extent of any potential production curtailments; changes in the sales volumes or mix; the impact of other price-adjustment factors on the Company's sales contracts; changes in demand for iron ore pellets by North American integrated steel producers, or changes in Asian iron ore demand due to changes in steel utilization rates, operational factors, electric furnace production or imports into the United States and Canada of semi-finished steel or pig iron; the impact of consolidation and rationalization in the steel industry; availability of capital equipment and component parts; availability of float capacity; changes in the financial condition of the Company's partners and/or customers; rejection of major contracts and/or venture agreements by customers and/or participants under provisions of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code or similar statutes in other countries; events or circumstances that could impair or adversely impact the viability of a mine and the carrying value of associated assets; inability to achieve expected production levels; reductions in current resource estimates; failure to receive or maintain required environmental permits; problems with productivity, labor disputes, weather conditions, fluctuations in ore grade, tons mined, changes in cost factors including energy costs, transportation, mine closure obligations and employee benefit costs; the ability to identify, acquire and integrate strategic acquisition candidates and the effect of these various risks on the Company's future cash flows, debt levels, liquidity and financial position.

Reference is also made to the detailed explanation of the many factors and risks that may cause such predictive statements to turn out differently, set forth in the Company's Annual Report and Reports on Form 10-K and previous news releases filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which are publicly available on Cliffs Natural Resources' website. The information contained in this document speaks as of the date of this news release and may be superseded by subsequent events.

    Source: Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.