Clevelands-Cliffs could close Australian operations

Cleveland-Cliffs have announced plans to potentially cease mining operations in Australia later this year, following an earnings call made on Thursday, January 25.

Currently, the mining giant own the Koolyanobbing complex and serve much of the Asian iron ore markets, with export processed through the Esperance port.

Last financial year, iron ore from the complex represented more than 75 per cent of the export volume through the Esperance port.

During the quarterly earnings call, Cleveland-Cliffs’ chief executive officer Lourenco Goncalves indicated the increasing preference for ‘higher grade’ ores had impacted the non-core ‘low-grade’ operation in Australia, with mining operations ‘likely to cease’ as a result.

Mr Goncalves said he appreciated the hard work and ‘sacrifices’ of the Australian operations and would ensure the market remained informed on the status of their operations throughout the year.

Southern Ports chief executive Nicolas Fertin said the news was a ‘blow’ for staff and the broader Goldfields-Esperance community and would impact Southern Ports as a whole.

“We know over the past six months trade has been down, which was confirmed overnight in the fourth-quarter earnings presentation from Cliffs,” he said.

“All port staff have been working hard to make Southern Ports more competitive and attract other trade to mitigate what we knew was the risk of the possible closure of the Cliffs operations.

“That said, we have been shocked to learn from the statement made overnight that Cleveland-Cliffs is likely to cease mining operations in Australia later this year.”

Mr Fertin said Southern Ports would work with staff, stakeholders and customers to ‘develop a way forward’ in the wake of the announcement.

A spokesperson for Southern Ports said there were plans in place to provide ‘face-to-face meetings’ and support in relation to the matter.