In its first-quarter earnings announcement this week, in which it reported a disappointing widened net loss of $772.6 million, officials confirmed that it coking coal mines could be put up for sale.
“As of March 31, 2015, management has determined that the North American Coal operating segment met the criteria to be classified as held for sale,” the company said. “This determination was made in light of North American Coal’s treatment as a non-core, non-strategic asset that the company expects to sell.”’
The company, which also has properties in Canada, currently operates Oak Grove in Alabama as well as Pinnacle in West Virginia. Both are actively producing, and Pinnacle is a longwall. The pair also have rail and barge access nearby their respective properties, on which the mines ship domestically and internationally.
Cliffs sold 7.4 million tons of coal from its North American mines in 2014, fairly stagnant from its 2013 sales of 7.3 million tons and up only slightly from its 2012 sales performance of 6.5 million tons.
The arm sold just 1.3 million tons in 1Q15, down from 1.6 million tons year-on-year, primarily on the sale of its Logan County complex last December to Coronado Coal.
Company officials hinted strongly even then that the move to exit coal was coming.
“This transaction is another important step in executing our strategy to transform Cliffs into a stronger, pure-play U.S. iron ore supplier,” Cliffs Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Lourenco Goncalves said at the time of the Coronado sale announcement, adding that it would continue to “explore sale options for its other coal assets.”