Published on: 7/12/2013 2:17:41 PM Print | Font Sizes:  Normal Text Large Text

Search underway for new Cliffs boss

By: Northern Ontario Business staff

Cliffs Natural Resources announced July 9 that Joseph Carrabba plans to retire as company president-CEO at year's end.

James Kirsch, the lead director on the Cliffs' board, steps in as elected to immediately replace Carrabba as board chairman.

Corporate headhunters, Heidrick & Struggles, will identify possible candidates to lead the company.

To make the transition go smoothly, an Office of the Chairman has been formed, led by Kirsch.

“It has been a privilege to lead this great company over the last eight years,” said Carrabba in a statement. “I am proud of the global operational footprint we have established and believe now is the right time to begin this leadership transition. I look forward to working with the Office of the Chairman during this period as we continue to provide world-class iron ore and coal products to the world's largest steel markets."

Cliffs also announced Laurie Brlas has retired as executive vice-president and president of its global operations, effectively immediately.

It's been a tough year so far for the Cleveland-based miner with its share prices dropping by more than 50 per cent since the beginning of 2013.

The company has been hurt by crashing global ore sales and has shuttered mines in northern Michigan, Minnesota, and decided to postpone expansion of its Bloom Lake iron ore mine in the Labrador Trough.

The Ohio miner also announced in June it was halting environmental assessment work at its Black Thor chromite deposit in the James Bay Ring of Fire, citing unresolved issues in negotiations with the Ontario government, First Nations and the lack of a plan for funding a transportation corridor to the future mine site.

Black Thor is the most advanced play in this mineral exploration camp in Ontario's Far North, about 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay. Cliffs' Black Thor is the only project among 21 mining companies operating there that is undergoing an environmental assessment.

Cliffs and the Ontario government signed a term sheet in May 2012 naming Sudbury as the future site of a $1.8 billion ferrochrome smelter. It's part of the Cleveland miner's larger $3.3-billion mine and mill investment in Ontario.

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