UPDATE 2-Cliffs Natural idles production due to weak iron ore prices

Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:31am EST
 
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* Says will delay portion of a mine expansion in Quebec

* Will idle some output at Northshore Mining in Minnesota and Empire Mine in Michigan

* Idling in the United States to affect about 625 employees

* Expects 2013 capex of $700 million to $800 million

By Swetha Gopinath

Nov 19 (Reuters) - Cliffs Natural Resources Inc, the largest North American producer of iron ore pellets used in steel making, said it will delay a planned mine expansion in Quebec and idle some production at two U.S. iron ore operations due to weak prices.

Shares of the company rose as much as 4 percent on the New York Stock Exchange in early trading on Monday.

"This is a step in the right direction, showing that the company is pulling levers to maintain its dividend," said CRT Capital Group analyst Kuni Chen.

Cliffs, which has reported a drop in profit for three straight quarters due to weak prices, declared a quarterly cash dividend of 62.5 cents per share last week.   Continued...