Steel Mills

Cleveland-Cliffs Takes Measures to Weather Pandemic

Written by Sandy Williams

Extreme times require extreme measures and rigorous planning, as shown in the Cleveland-Cliffs business update on April 15.

Cleveland-Cliffs claims that its liquidity is assured during the COVID-19 crisis even under “extreme stress test assumptions.”  Liquidity in an extreme scenario, not including proceeds from additional financing, would reach a trough of $370 million in September 2020 and improve thereafter. Current liquidity as of March 31 is approximately $1 billion. Cliffs management stressed that it does not expect the extreme test assumptions below to materialize.

Extreme stress test assumptions:

  • U.S. automotive plants remain shut down through the end of June 2020
  • Slow recovery in production during second half of 2020
  • Approximately 6 million new automotive builds from April 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020
  • Full-year AK Steel flat-rolled shipments of approximately 3 million short tons (from March 13, 2020)
  • Full-year third party pellet sales of approximately 12 million long tons
  • U.S. HRC: averages $480/t in Q2 and Q3; $525/t in Q4
  • IODEX: averages $70 between April 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020
  • Atlantic Basin Pellet Premium: averages $29 between April 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2020
  • Cash burn rate: averages approximately $120 million per month during second quarter. Improves if shutdowns continue (as fixed costs become variable)

The company has undertaken several production adjustments during the crisis to align production with demand.

Temporarily idled until market conditions improve:

  • Dearborn Works
  • All Precision Partners Facilities
  • Toledo HBI Construction
  • Approximately 65 percent of AK Tube Production

Extended two-week outage:

  • Mansfield Works
  • Butler Works

Indefinitely idled: AK Coal

Production to be idled in mid-April:

  • Northshore mine (planned restart in August 2020)
  • Tilden mine (planned restart in July 2020)

Additional cost-cutting measures include, among others, suspending future dividends and a 40 percent pay cut for Cliff’s CEO.

Preliminary results for AK Steel in the first quarter post-merger show revenues of approximately $345 million to $375 million, 2.1 million long tons of mining and pelletizing sales, and shipments of 200,000 tons of flat rolled steel. Pre-merger shipments (Jan. 1-March 12, 2020) were approximately 1.1 million tons.

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