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Press release from CNW Group

Cliffs Natural Resources Temporarily Suspends its Chromite Project Environmental Assessment Activities Pending Resolution of Various Issues

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cliffs Natural Resources Temporarily Suspends its Chromite Project Environmental Assessment Activities Pending Resolution of Various Issues

06:01 EDT Wednesday, June 12, 2013

CLEVELAND, June 12, 2013 /CNW/ - Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: CLF) (Paris: CLF) announced today that its affiliate, Cliffs Chromite Ontario Inc., is temporarily suspending the environmental assessment activities for its Chromite Project in Ontario, Canada. The Company indicated that its decision to temporarily suspend these activities is due to delays related to the environment assessment process, land surface rights, and negotiations with the Province of Ontario.

"While most aspects of the Chromite Project have advanced according to plan, temporarily suspending the environmental assessment work acknowledges that certain critical elements of the project's future are not solely within our control and require the active support and participation by other interested parties such as government agencies and impacted First Nation communities," said Bill Boor, senior vice president - global ferroalloys for Cliffs. "We remain excited about this project and its potential for Cliffs and Northern Ontario; however, given the current unresolved issues, we cannot and will not unilaterally move the process forward and must manage our resources appropriately."

The Company cited that the following open issues are impeding the progress of the project's environmental assessment process, as well as the Feasibility Study evaluation:

  • Delayed approval of the Terms of Reference for the provincial Environmental Assessment (EA) process.
  • Uncertainty regarding the federal EA process due to the current judicial challenge by a number of the impacted First Nations.
  • Unresolved land surface rights issues following a February 2013 Mining and Land Commissioner hearing.
  • Unfinished agreements with the Government of Ontario that are critical to the project's economic viability.

"In a practical sense, we've taken the EA and other project work as far as possible without resolution of these issues," said Mr. Boor. "Although we are temporarily suspending our EA activities, we will continue our work with the Government of Ontario and First Nation communities and look forward to restarting the work on the EA when we are collectively ready to make this project a reality."

As previously disclosed, Cliffs indicated that before it can advance the project, the Company must receive provincial and federal environmental assessment approvals, negotiate mutually acceptable agreements with impacted First Nation communities, work with governments to address the lack of infrastructure in the Ring of Fire and complete its commercial and technical feasibility studies.

About Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.
Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. is an international mining and natural resources company. A member of the S&P 500 Index, the Company is a major global iron ore producer and a significant producer of high- and low-volatile metallurgical coal. Cliffs' strategy is to continually achieve greater scale and diversification in the mining industry through a focus on serving the world's largest and fastest growing steel markets. Driven by the core values of social, environmental and capital stewardship, Cliffs associates across the globe endeavor to provide all stakeholders operating and financial transparency.

The Company is organized through a global commercial group responsible for sales and delivery of Cliffs' products and a global operations group responsible for the production of the minerals the Company markets. Cliffs operates iron ore and coal mines in North America and an iron ore mining complex in Western Australia. In addition, Cliffs has a major chromite project, in the feasibility stage of development, located in Ontario, Canada.

News releases and other information on the Company are available on the Internet at: http://www.cliffsnaturalresources.com

Forward-Looking Statements
This release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. Although the Company believes that its forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such statements are subject to risks and uncertainties relating to Cliffs' operations and business environment that are difficult to predict and may be beyond Cliffs' control. Such uncertainties and factors may cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by forward-looking statements for a variety of reasons including without limitation: uncertainty or weaknesses in global economic conditions, including downward pressure on prices, reduced market demand and any slowing of the economic growth rate in China; trends affecting our financial condition, results of operations or future prospects, particularly the continued volatility of iron ore and coal prices; our ability to successfully integrate acquired companies into our operations and achieve post-acquisition synergies, including without limitation, Cliffs Quebec Iron Mining Limited (formerly Consolidated Thompson Iron Mining Limited); our ability to successfully identify and consummate any strategic investments and complete planned divestitures; the outcome of any contractual disputes with our customers, joint venture partners or significant energy, material or service providers or any other litigation or arbitration; the ability of our customers and joint venture partners to meet their obligations to us on a timely basis or at all; our ability to reach agreement with our iron ore customers regarding modifications to sales contract pricing escalation provisions to reflect a shorter-term or spot-based pricing mechanism; the impact of price-adjustment factors on our sales contracts; changes in sales volume or mix; our actual economic iron ore and coal reserves or reductions in current mineral estimates, including whether any mineralized material qualifies as a reserve; the impact of our customers using other methods to produce steel or reducing their steel production; events or circumstances that could impair or adversely impact the viability of a mine and the carrying value of associated assets; the results of prefeasibility and feasibility studies in relation to projects; impacts of existing and increasing governmental regulation and related costs and liabilities, including failure to receive or maintain required operating and environmental permits, approvals, modifications or other authorization of, or from, any governmental or regulatory entity and costs related to implementing improvements to ensure compliance with regulatory changes; our ability to cost effectively achieve planned production rates or levels; uncertainties associated with natural disasters, weather conditions, unanticipated geological conditions, supply or price of energy, equipment failures and other unexpected events; adverse changes in currency values, currency exchange rates, interest rates and tax laws; availability of capital and our ability to maintain adequate liquidity and successfully implement our financing plans; our ability to maintain appropriate relations with unions and employees and enter into or renew collective bargaining agreements on satisfactory terms; risks related to international operations; availability of capital equipment and component parts; the potential existence of significant deficiencies or material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting; problems or uncertainties with productivity, tons mined, transportation, mine-closure obligations, environmental liabilities, employee-benefit costs and other risks of the mining industry; and other factors and risks that are set forth in the Company's most recently filed reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The information contained herein speaks as of the date of this release and may be superseded by subsequent events. Except as may be required by applicable securities laws, we do not undertake any obligation to revise or update any forward-looking statements contained in this release.

SOURCE: Cliffs Natural Resources Inc.

For further information:

Jessica Moran, Director, Investor Relations, (216) 694-6532; Patricia Persico, Director, Global Communications, (216) 694-5316

http://www.cliffsnr.com

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