SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
|☒||ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
|TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the transition period from to
Commission File Number: 1-8944
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
|(State or Other Jurisdiction of|
Incorporation or Organization)
|200 Public Square,||Cleveland,||Ohio||44114-2315|
|(Address of Principal Executive Offices)||(Zip Code)|
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (216) 694-5700
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title of each class||Trading Symbol(s)||Name of each exchange on which registered|
|Common Shares, par value $0.125 per share||CLF||New York Stock Exchange|
Securities registered pursuant to section 12(g) of the Act: NONE
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☒ NO ☐
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes ☐ No ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
|Large accelerated filer||☒||Accelerated filer||☐|
|Non-accelerated filer||☐||Smaller reporting company||☐|
|Emerging growth company||☐|
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes ☐ No ☒
As of June 30, 2020, the aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common shares held by non-affiliates of the registrant, based on the closing price of $5.52 per share as reported on the New York Stock Exchange — Composite Index, was $2,171,029,299 (excluded from this figure are the voting shares beneficially owned by the registrant’s officers and directors).
The number of shares outstanding of the registrant’s common shares, par value $0.125 per share, was 498,885,558 as of February 24, 2021.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s proxy statement for its 2021 annual meeting of shareholders are incorporated by reference into Part III.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|Information About Our Executive Officers|
|Item 1A.||Risk Factors|
|Item 1B.||Unresolved Staff Comments|
|Item 3.||Legal Proceedings|
|Item 4.||Mine Safety Disclosures|
|Item 5.||Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities|
|Item 6.||Selected Financial Data|
|Item 7.||Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations|
|Item 7A.||Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk|
|Item 8.||Financial Statements and Supplementary Data|
|Item 9.||Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure|
|Item 9A.||Controls and Procedures|
|Item 9B.||Other Information|
|Item 10.||Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance|
|Item 11.||Executive Compensation|
|Item 12.||Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters|
|Item 13.||Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence|
|Item 14.||Principal Accountant Fees and Services|
|Item 15.||Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules|
|Item 16.||Form 10-K Summary|
The following abbreviations or acronyms are used in the text. References in this report to the “Company,” “we,” “us,” “our” and “Cliffs” are to Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. and subsidiaries, collectively. References to “$” is to United States currency.
|Abbreviation or acronym||Term|
|2012 Amended Equity Plan||Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. 2012 Incentive Equity Plan, as amended or amended and restated from time to time|
|A&R 2015 Equity Plan||Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. Amended and Restated 2015 Equity and Incentive Compensation Plan|
|ABL Amendment||Second Amendment to Asset-Based Revolving Credit Agreement, dated as of December 9, 2020, among Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., the lenders party thereto from time to time and Bank of America, N.A., as administrative agent|
|ABL Facility||Asset-Based Revolving Credit Agreement, dated as of March 13, 2020, among Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., the lenders party thereto from time to time and Bank of America, N.A., as administrative agent, as amended as of March 27, 2020, and December 9, 2020, and as may be further amended from time to time|
|Acquisitions||The AK Steel Merger and AM USA Transaction, together|
|Adjusted EBITDA||EBITDA, excluding certain items such as EBITDA of noncontrolling interests, extinguishment of debt, severance, acquisition-related costs, amortization of inventory step-up, impacts of discontinued operations and intersegment corporate allocations of selling, general and administrative costs|
|AHSS||Advanced high-strength steel|
|AK Coal||AK Coal Resources, Inc., an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of AK Steel, and related coal mining assets|
|AK Steel||AK Steel Holding Corporation (n/k/a Cleveland-Cliffs Steel Holding Corporation) and its consolidated subsidiaries, including AK Steel Corporation (n/k/a Cleveland-Cliffs Steel Corporation), its direct, wholly owned subsidiary, collectively, unless stated otherwise or the context indicates otherwise|
|AK Steel Merger||The merger of Merger Sub with and into AK Steel, with AK Steel surviving the merger as a wholly owned subsidiary of Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Merger Agreement, consummated on March 13, 2020|
|AK Steel Merger Agreement||Agreement and Plan of Merger, dated as of December 2, 2019, among Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., AK Steel and Merger Sub|
|AM USA Transaction||The acquisition of ArcelorMittal USA, consummated on December 9, 2020, and the entry into the ABL Amendment, together|
|AM USA Transaction Agreement||Transaction Agreement, dated as of September 28, 2020, by and between Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. and ArcelorMittal S.A.|
|AMT||Alternative minimum tax|
|AOCI||Accumulated other comprehensive income (loss)|
|APBO||Accumulated postretirement benefit obligation|
|ArcelorMittal||ArcelorMittal S.A., a company organized under the laws of Luxembourg and the former ultimate parent company of ArcelorMittal USA|
|ArcelorMittal USA||Substantially all of the operations of the former ArcelorMittal USA LLC, its subsidiaries and certain affiliates, and Kote and Tek, collectively|
|ASC||Accounting Standards Codification|
|ASTM||American Society for Testing and Materials|
|ASU||Accounting Standards Update|
|BART||Best available retrofit technology|
|BNSF||Burlington Northern Santa Fe, LLC|
|Board||The Board of Directors of Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.|
|CARES Act||Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act|
Current expected credit losses
|CERCLA||Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980|
|CFR||Cost and freight|
|Clean Water Act||Federal Water Pollution Control Act|
|CN||Canadian National Railway Company|
|Compensation Committee||Compensation and Organization Committee of the Board|
|COVID-19||A novel strain of coronavirus that the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic in March 2020|
|Directors’ Plan||Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. Amended and Restated 2014 Nonemployee Directors’ Compensation Plan|
|Dodd-Frank Act||Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act|
|DOE||U.S. Department of Energy|
|EAF||Electric arc furnace|
|EBITDA||Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization|
|EDC Revolving Facility||Credit Facility Agreement, dated November 9, 2020, among Export Development Canada and Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.'s indirect, wholly owned subsidiaries, Fleetwood Metal Industries Inc. and The Electromac Group Inc.|
|EGLE||Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy|
|Abbreviation or acronym||Term|
|Empire||Iron ore mining property owned by Empire Iron Mining Partnership, an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of Cliffs|
|EPA||U.S. Environmental Protection Agency|
|EPS||Earnings per share|
|ERISA||Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended|
|Exchange Act||Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended|
|FASB||Financial Accounting Standards Board|
|FIP||Federal implementation plan|
|FMSH Act||Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, as amended|
|Former ABL Facility||Amended and Restated Syndicated Facility Agreement, dated as of March 30, 2015, among Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., the subsidiary borrowers party thereto, the lenders party thereto and Bank of America, N.A., as administrative agent, as amended and restated as of February 28, 2018, and as further amended, which was terminated on March 13, 2020 in connection with entering into the ABL Facility|
|GAAP||Accounting principles generally accepted in the United States|
|GOES||Grain oriented electrical steel|
|HBI||Hot briquetted iron|
|Hibbing||Iron ore mining property owned by Hibbing Taconite Company, an unincorporated joint venture between subsidiaries of Cliffs and U.S. Steel|
|HRC||Hot-rolled coil steel|
|IRB||Industrial Revenue Bond|
|IRC||U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended|
|Kote and Tek||I/N Kote L.P. (n/k/a Cleveland-Cliffs Kote L.P.) and I/N Tek L.P. (n/k/a Cleveland-Cliffs Tek L.P.), former joint ventures between subsidiaries of the former ArcelorMittal USA LLC and Nippon Steel Corporation|
|LIBOR||London Interbank Offered Rate|
|Long ton||2,240 pounds|
|LS&I||Lake Superior & Ishpeming Railroad Company|
|Merger Sub||Pepper Merger Sub Inc., a direct, wholly owned subsidiary of Cliffs prior to the AK Steel Merger|
|Metric ton||2,205 pounds|
|Minorca||Iron ore mining property owned by Cleveland-Cliffs Minorca Mine Inc. (f/k/a ArcelorMittal Minorca Mine Inc.), an|
indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of Cliffs acquired in connection with the AM USA Transaction
|MMBtu||Million British Thermal Units|
|MPCA||Minnesota Pollution Control Agency|
|MSHA||U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration|
|Net ton||2,000 pounds|
|NOL||Net operating loss|
|NOVs||Notices of violations|
Non-oriented electrical steel
|Northshore||Iron ore mining property owned by Northshore Mining Company, a direct, wholly owned subsidiary of Cliffs|
|NPDES||National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, authorized by the Clean Water Act|
|NYSE||New York Stock Exchange|
|OPEB||Other postretirement benefits|
|OSHA||Occupational Safety and Health Administration|
|PBO||Projected benefit obligation|
|Platts 62% price||Platts IODEX 62% Fe Fines CFR North China|
|PPI||Producer Price Indices|
|Precision Partners||PPHC Holdings, LLC, an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of AK Steel, and its subsidiaries, collectively, unless stated otherwise or the context indicates otherwise|
|RCRA||Resource Conservation and Recovery Act|
|RI/FS||Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study|
|Abbreviation or acronym||Term|
|S&P||Standard & Poor's|
|SEC||U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission|
|Section 232||Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962|
|Securities Act||Securities Act of 1933, as amended|
|SIP||State Implementation Plan|
|STRIPS||Separate Trading of Registered Interest and Principal of Securities|
|SunCoke Middletown||Middletown Coke Company, LLC, a subsidiary of SunCoke Energy, Inc.|
|Tilden||Iron ore mining property owned by Tilden Mining Company L.C., an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of Cliffs|
|TMDL||Total maximum daily load|
|Topic 805||ASC Topic 805, Business Combinations|
|Topic 815||ASC Topic 815, Derivatives and Hedging|
|TSR||Total shareholder return|
|Tubular Components||Cleveland-Cliffs Tubular Components LLC (f/k/a AK Tube LLC), an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of AK Steel|
|United Taconite||Iron ore mining property owned by United Taconite LLC, an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of Cliffs|
|U.S.||United States of America|
|U.S. Steel||U.S. Steel Corporation and its subsidiaries, collectively, unless stated otherwise or the context indicates otherwise|
|USMCA||United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement|
|VEBA||Voluntary employee benefit association trusts|
|VIE||Variable interest entity|
Cliffs is the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America. Founded in 1847 as a mine operator, we are also the largest supplier of iron ore pellets in North America. In 2020, we acquired two major steelmakers, AK Steel and ArcelorMittal USA, vertically integrating our legacy iron ore business with quality-focused steel production and emphasis on the automotive end market. Our fully integrated portfolio includes custom-made pellets and HBI; flat-rolled carbon steel, stainless, electrical, plate, tinplate and long steel products; as well as carbon and stainless steel tubing, hot and cold stamping and tooling. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, we employ approximately 25,000 people across our mining, steel and downstream manufacturing operations in the United States and Canada.
On March 13, 2020, we completed the acquisition of AK Steel, a leading producer of flat-rolled carbon, stainless and electrical steel products. These operations consist primarily of seven steelmaking and finishing plants, two cokemaking operations, three tube manufacturing plants and ten tooling and stamping operations. The Tubular Components and Precision Partners businesses provide customer solutions with carbon and stainless steel tubing products, die design and tooling, and hot- and cold-stamped components.
On December 9, 2020, we completed the acquisition of ArcelorMittal USA. These operations include six steelmaking facilities, eight finishing facilities, two iron ore mining and pelletizing operations, one coal mining complex and three cokemaking operations. These assets build upon our existing high-end steelmaking and raw material capabilities, and also open up new markets to us. The combination provides us additional scale and technical capabilities necessary in a competitive and increasingly quality-focused marketplace.
As the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America, we benefit from having the size and scale necessary in a competitive, capital intensive business. Our sizeable operating footprint provides us with the operational leverage, flexibility and cost performance to achieve competitive margins throughout the business cycle. We also have a unique vertically integrated profile, which begins at the mining stage and goes all the way through the manufacturing of steel products, including stamping, tooling and tubing. This positioning gives us both lower and more predictable costs throughout the supply chain and more control over both our manufacturing inputs and our end product destination.
Our legacy business of producing iron ore pellets, our primary steelmaking raw material input, is another competitive advantage. Mini-mills (producers using EAFs) comprise about 70% of steel production in the U.S. Their primary iron input is scrap metal, which has unpredictable and often volatile pricing. By controlling our iron ore pellet supply, our primary steelmaking raw material feedstock can be secured at a stable and predictable cost, and not subject to factors outside of our control.
We are also the largest supplier of automotive-grade steel in the U.S. Compared to other steel end markets, automotive steel is generally higher quality and more operationally and technologically intensive to produce. As such, it often generates higher through-the-cycle margins, making it a desirable end market for the steel industry. With our continued technological innovation, as well as leading delivery performance, we expect to remain the leader in supplying this industry.
We offer the most comprehensive flat-rolled steel product selection in the industry, along with several complementary products and services. A sampling of this offering includes AHSS, hot-dipped galvanized, aluminized, galvalume, electrogalvanized, galvanneal, HRC, cold-rolled coil, plate, tinplate, GOES, NOES, stainless steels, tool & die, stamped components, rail and slabs. Across the quality spectrum and the supply chain, our customers can frequently find the solutions they need from our product selection.
We are the first and the only supplier of HBI in the Great Lakes region. Construction of our Toledo, Ohio, direct reduction plant was completed in the fourth quarter of 2020. From this modern plant, we offer a high-quality scrap and pig iron alternative to the several EAFs in the region. Previously, ore-based metallics that compete with our HBI had to be imported from locations like Russia, Ukraine and Brazil. With growing EAF capacity in the U.S. and
increasing tightness in the scrap market, we expect our Toledo direct reduction plant to generate healthy margins for us going forward.
Optimizing Our Fully-Integrated Steelmaking Footprint
We have transformed into a fully-integrated steel enterprise with the size and scale to achieve improved through-the-cycle margins and are the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America.
Now that the AM USA Transaction is completed, our focus is on the integration of these facilities within our footprint. These assets build upon our existing high-end steelmaking and raw material capabilities, and also open up new markets to us. The combination provides us the additional scale and technical capabilities necessary in a competitive and increasingly quality-focused marketplace. We have ample opportunities to implement improvements in logistics, procurement, utilization and quality.
We expect the AM USA Transaction to improve our production capabilities, flexibility, and cost performance. We have identified approximately $150 million of potential cost synergies through asset optimization, economies of scale, and duplicative overhead savings. The AM USA Transaction also enhances optionality for future production of merchant pig iron to complement our HBI offering in the metallics space.
Maximizing Our Commercial Strengths
With the Acquisitions completed, we now have enhanced our offering to a full suite of flat steel products encompassing all steps of the steel manufacturing process. We have increased our industry-leading market share in the automotive sector, where our portfolio of high-end products will deliver a broad range of differentiated solutions for this highly sought after customer base.
We believe we have the broadest flat steel product offering in North America, and can meet customer needs from a variety of end markets and quality specifications. We have several finishing and downstream facilities with advanced technological capabilities. We also pride ourselves on our excellent delivery performance, which provides us opportunities to augment our relationships with current customers given our reputation as a reliable supplier.
We are also proponents of the “value over volume” approach in terms of steel supply. We take our leadership role in the industry very seriously and intend to manage our steel output in a responsible manner.
Expanding to New Markets
Our Toledo direct reduction plant allows us to offer another unique, high-quality product to discerning raw material buyers. EAF steelmakers primarily use scrap for their iron feedstock, and our HBI offers a sophisticated alternative with less impurities, allowing other steelmakers to increase the quality of their respective end-steel products and reduce reliance on imported metallics.
The completed Acquisitions provide other potential outlets for HBI, as it can also be used in our integrated steel operations to increase productivity and help to reduce carbon footprint, allowing for more cost efficient and environmentally friendly steelmaking.
We are also seeking to expand our customer base with the rapidly growing and desirable electric vehicle market. At this time, we believe the North American automotive industry is approaching a monumental inflection point, with the adoption of electrical motors in passenger vehicles. As this market grows, it will require more advanced steel applications to meet the needs of electric vehicle producers and consumers. With our unique technical capabilities, we believe we are positioned better than any other North American steelmaker to supply the steel and parts necessary to fill these needs.
Improving Financial Flexibility
Given the cyclicality of our business, it is important to us to be in the financial position to easily withstand any negative demand or pricing pressure we may encounter. As such, our top priority for the allocation of our free cash flow is to improve our balance sheet via the reduction of long-term debt. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to issue secured debt to provide insurance capital through the uncertain industry conditions that the pandemic caused. Now that business conditions have improved and we expect to generate healthy free cash flow during 2021, we have the ability to lower our long-term debt balance.
Our stated initial target will be to reduce total debt to less than three times our annual Adjusted EBITDA. We will continue to review the composition of our debt, as we are interested in both extending our maturity profile and increasing our ratio of unsecured debt to secured debt, which we demonstrated by executing a series of favorable debt and equity capital markets transactions during February 2021, as described under Part II – Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations. These actions will better prepare us to navigate more easily through potentially volatile industry conditions in the future.
Enhance our Environmental Sustainability
As the Company transforms, our commitment to operating our business in a more environmentally responsible manner remains constant. One of the most important issues impacting our industry, our stakeholders and our planet is climate change. As a result, we are continuing Cliffs’ proactive approach by announcing our plan to reduce GHG emissions 25% from 2017 levels by 2030. This goal represents combined Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (indirect) GHG emission reductions across all of our operations.
Prior to setting this goal with our newly acquired steel assets, we exceeded our previous 26% GHG reduction target at our legacy facilities six years ahead of our 2025 goal. In 2019, we reduced our combined Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions by 42% on a mass basis from 2005 baseline levels. Our goal is to further reduce those emissions in coming years.
Additionally, many of our steel assets have improved plant and energy efficiency through participation in programs like the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Plants program and the EPA’s Energy Star program. With our longstanding focus on plant and energy efficiency, we aim to build on our previous successes across our newly integrated enterprise.
Our GHG reduction commitment is based on executing the following five strategic priorities:
•Developing domestically sourced, high quality iron ore feedstock and utilizing natural gas in the production of HBI;
•Implementing energy efficiency and clean energy projects;
•Investing in the development of carbon capture technology;
•Enhancing our GHG emissions transparency and sustainability focus; and
•Supporting public policies that facilitate GHG reduction in the domestic steel industry.
We are vertically integrated from the mining of iron ore and coal; to production of metallics and coke; through iron making, steelmaking, rolling and finishing; and to downstream tubular components, stamping and tooling. We have the unique advantage as a steel producer of being fully or partially self-sufficient with our production of raw materials for steel manufacturing, which includes iron ore pellets, HBI and coking coal. As we expand our presence, we believe such vertical integration represents a sustainable business model that is in the best interest of all stakeholders and the surest way to secure a long-term competitive advantage.
We strive to operate responsibly and produce more environmentally friendly iron ore pellets that enable production of clean steel, which is also the most recycled material on the planet. Additionally, our investment in the direct reduction plant in Toledo, Ohio, also helps to support environmental stewardship, as the production of HBI is more environmentally friendly than its substitute, foreign pig iron. From a focus on key environmental processes, such as steel recycling and water reuse, to corporate and social responsibility, sustainability is central to our values and operations.
We have updated our segment structure to coincide with our new business model and are organized into four operating segments based on differentiated products, Steelmaking, Tubular, Tooling and Stamping, and European Operations. Through the third quarter ended September 30, 2020, we had operated through two reportable segments – the Steel and Manufacturing segment and the Mining and Pelletizing segment. However, given the recent transformation of the business, beginning with our financial statements as of and for the year ended December 31, 2020, we primarily operate through one reportable segment – the Steelmaking segment.
The following table lists our main properties, their location and their products and services:
|Property||Segment||State/ Province||Products and Services|
|Hibbing (85.3% ownership)||Steelmaking||Minnesota||Iron ore pellets|
|Minorca||Steelmaking||Minnesota||Iron ore pellets|
|Northshore||Steelmaking||Minnesota||Iron ore pellets|
|Tilden||Steelmaking||Michigan||Iron ore pellets|
|United Taconite||Steelmaking||Minnesota||Iron ore pellets|
|Empire (indefinitely idled)||Steelmaking||Michigan||Iron ore pellets|
|Mountain State Carbon||Steelmaking||West Virginia||Coke|
|Ashland Works (idled)||Steelmaking||Kentucky||Potential pig iron plant|
|Burns Harbor||Steelmaking||Indiana||Hot-rolled, cold-rolled, and hot-dipped galvanized sheet and coke|
|Burns Harbor Plate and Gary Plate||Steelmaking||Indiana||Carbon steel plate, high-strength low alloy steel plate, ASTM grades steel plate|
|Butler Works||Steelmaking||Pennsylvania||Flat-rolled electrical and stainless steel, stainless and carbon semi-finished slabs|
|Cleveland||Steelmaking||Ohio||Hot-rolled and hot-dipped galvanized sheet|
|Coatesville||Steelmaking||Pennsylvania||Steel plate - carbon, high-strength low-alloy, commercial allow, military alloy, flame-cut|
|Columbus||Steelmaking||Ohio||Hot-dipped galvanized steel|
|Conshohocken||Steelmaking||Pennsylvania||Coiled and discrete plate, military alloy, commercial alloy, heat-treated carbon|
|Coshocton Works||Steelmaking||Ohio||Flat-rolled stainless steel|
|Dearborn Works||Steelmaking||Michigan||Carbon semi-finished slabs, hot-dipped galvanized, AHSS|
|Indiana Harbor||Steelmaking||Indiana||Hot-rolled, cold-rolled and hot-dipped galvanized sheet|
|Kote and Tek||Steelmaking||Indiana||Cold-rolled, hot-dipped galvanized and galvannealed, electrogalvanized coil|
|Mansfield Works||Steelmaking||Ohio||Semi-finished hot bands, high chrome ferritic and martensitic stainless steels|
|Middletown Works||Steelmaking||Ohio||Hot-rolled, cold-rolled, hot-dipped galvanized, aluminized sheet and coke|
|Piedmont||Steelmaking||North Carolina||Plasma-cuts plate steel products into blanks|
|Rockport Works||Steelmaking||Indiana||Cold-rolled carbon, coated and stainless steels|
|Steelton||Steelmaking||Pennsylvania||Railroad rails, specialty blooms, flat bars|
|Weirton||Steelmaking||West Virginia||Tinplate, cold-rolled sheet|
|Zanesville Works||Steelmaking||Ohio||Electrical steels|
|Tubular Components||Other Businesses||Indiana and Ohio||AHSS tube, electric resistant welded tubing|
|Precision Partners||Other Businesses||Ontario, Alabama and Kentucky||Cold and hot stamp assembly solutions|
Customers and Markets
We primarily sell our products to customers in four broad market categories: automotive; infrastructure and manufacturing, which includes electrical power; distributors and converters; and steel producers, which consume iron ore and metallics. The following table presents the percentage of our net sales to each of these markets during the year:
|Infrastructure and manufacturing||15 ||%|
|Distributors and converters||13 ||%|
|Steel producers||27 ||%|
Certain of our flat-rolled steel shipments are sold under fixed base price contracts. These contracts are typically one year in duration and expire at various times throughout the year. Some of these contracts have a surcharge mechanism that passes through certain changes in input costs. A certain portion of our flat-rolled steel shipments are sold based on the spot market at prevailing market prices or under contracts that involve variable pricing that is tied to an independently published steel index.
We sell our steel products principally to customers in North America. For the vast majority of international sales, we are not the importer of record and do not bear the responsibility for paying any applicable tariffs.
The automotive industry is our largest market, and we aim to address the principal needs of major automotive manufacturers and their suppliers. We specialize in manufacturing difficult-to-produce, high-quality steel products, combined with demanding delivery performance, customer technical support and collaborative relationships, to develop breakthrough steel solutions that help our customers meet their product requirements. In addition, many of our competitors do not have the capability to supply the full portfolio of products that we make for our automotive customers, such as steel for exposed automotive applications, the most sophisticated grades of AHSS and value-added stainless steel products. The exacting requirements for servicing the automotive market generally allows for higher selling prices for products sold to that market than for the commodity types of carbon and stainless steels sold to other markets.
In light of the automotive market’s importance to us, North American light vehicle production has a significant impact on our total sales and shipments. North American light vehicle production for 2020 declined 20% to approximately 13 million units from the prior year due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced businesses to begin to shut down at the end of March 2020 until they slowly re-started near the end of the second quarter. During the third quarter of 2020, auto makers saw the pent-up demand bring sales back to more normal levels as buyers and dealers adapted to new procedures and virtual shopping. Fourth quarter 2020 sales were more in line with expected sales for the time of year, but did not quite return to pre-COVID-19 levels. Currently, we are expecting North American light vehicle production in 2021 to significantly increase and return to near 2019 levels, which to an extent depends on continued demand, the level of fiscal stimulus provided under the new Biden Administration, timing of COVID-19 vaccination distribution and how quickly the economy recovers.
Furthermore, during 2020, consumer demand for sport utility vehicles, trucks, crossovers and larger vehicles continued to increase while demand for smaller sedans and compact cars declined. We benefit from intentionally targeting larger vehicle platforms to take advantage of consumer preferences, and we have focused on and have been successful in getting sourced on numerous sport utility vehicles, truck, crossover and larger vehicle platforms. As a result, a significant portion of the carbon automotive steel that we sell is used to produce these popular larger vehicles. In addition to benefiting from our exposure to consumers’ strong demand for larger vehicles, these vehicles also typically contain a higher volume of steel than smaller sedans and compact cars, providing us the opportunity to sell a greater proportion of our steel products to our automotive customers.
Automotive manufacturers are under pressure to achieve heightened federally mandated fuel economy standards (the Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or “CAFE,” standards). The CAFE standards generally require automobile manufacturers to meet an average fuel economy goal across the fleet of vehicles they produce with certain milestone dates. As a result, our automotive customers continue to explore various avenues for achieving the standards, including light weighting components and developing more fuel-efficient engines. Light weighting efforts include the use of alternatives to traditional carbon steels, such as AHSS and other materials. While this could reduce the aggregate volume of steel consumed by the automotive industry, we expect that demand will increase for current
and next-generation AHSS and that our AHSS and other innovative steels will command higher margins. We are collaborating with our automotive customers and their suppliers to develop innovative solutions using our developments in light weighting, efficiency, and material strength and formability across our extensive product portfolio, in combination with our automotive stamping and tube-making capabilities. We are also working with our customers to develop steels with greater heat resistance for exhaust systems that support new, fuel-efficient engines that run at higher temperatures.
Automotive manufacturers have also been increasing their development of H/EVs and battery electric vehicles in order to meet the CAFE standards and growing customer adoption of H/EVs. Many motors used in H/EVs being sold in the U.S. today are imported from foreign suppliers, but more local sourcing and manufacturing of motors is expected to occur in the future. As the only North American producer of high-efficiency NOES, which is a critical component of H/EV motors, we are positioned to potentially benefit from the growth of H/EVs going forward. We believe our strong foundation in electrical steels and long-standing relationships with automotive manufacturers and their suppliers will provide us with an advantage in this market as it continues to grow and mature. Likewise, the growing customer adoption of H/EVs may also increase demand for improvements in the electric grid to support higher demand for more extensive battery charging, which our GOES could support.
Infrastructure and Manufacturing Market
We sell a variety of our steel products, including plate, carbon, stainless, electrical, tinplate and rail, to the infrastructure and manufacturing market. This market includes sales to manufacturers of heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment, appliances, power transmission and distribution transformers, storage tanks, ships and railcars, wind towers, machinery parts, heavy equipment, military armor, food preservation, and railway lines. Domestic construction activity and the replacement of aging infrastructure directly affects sales of steel to this market. During 2020, there were nearly 1.4 million new housing starts in the U.S., an increase of approximately 6% from 2019, and home sales reached nearly 6 million, the highest annual mark since 2006, with the supply of existing homes having reached all-time lows. The recent strength in home sales has been due to lower mortgage rates and remote work flexibility and is expected to continue through 2021.
Distributors and Converters Market
Virtually all of the grades of steel we produce are sold to the steel distributors and converters market. This market generally represents downstream steel service centers, who source various types of steel from us and fabricate it according to their customers' needs. Our steel is typically sold to this market on a spot basis or under short-term contracts linked to steel pricing indices. Demand and pricing for this market can be highly dependent on a variety of factors outside our control, including global and domestic commodity steel production capacity, the relative health of countries’ economies and whether they are consuming or exporting excess steel capacity, the provisions of international trade agreements and fluctuations in international currencies and, therefore, are subject to market changes in steel prices.
The price for domestic HRC, which is an important attribute in the profitability of this end market, averaged $588 per net ton for the year ended December 31, 2020, 2% lower than the prior year. The price of HRC was negatively impacted by lower demand related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and hit a low point of $438 per net ton on April 30, 2020. However, as the industry recovered and supply-demand dynamics improved, the price rebounded dramatically, rising to a peak of $1,030 per net ton by December 31, 2020 and reaching all time-highs early in 2021. The improved pricing environment should bolster profitability for this end market during 2021.
Steel Producers Market
The steel producers market represents third-party sales to other steel producers, including those who operate blast furnaces and EAFs. It includes sales of raw materials and semi-finished and finished goods, including iron ore pellets, coal, coke, HBI and steel products.
The merchant portion of our iron ore pellet production is sold pursuant to long-term supply agreements and through spot contracts. Certain of our supply agreements contain a base price that is adjusted periodically as specified by the contracts, using one or more adjustment factors. Factors that could result in price adjustments under our contracts include changes in the Platts 62% price, published Platts international indexed freight rates and changes in specified PPI, including those for industrial commodities, fuel and steel.
As a result of the Acquisitions, production from our iron ore mines is now predominantly consumed by our newly acquired steelmaking operations. On a full-year basis, we would expect between 22 million and 24 million long tons of our iron ore pellets to be consumed by our steelmaking operations. During 2020, 2019 and 2018, we sold 12
million, 19 million and 21 million long tons of iron ore product, respectively, to third parties from our share of production from our iron ore mines.
We produce various grades of iron ore pellets, including standard, fluxed and DR-grade, for use as part of the steelmaking process. The variation in grade of iron ore pellets results from the specific chemical and metallurgical properties of the ores at each mine, the requirements of end users' steelmaking processes and whether or not fluxstone is added in the process. Although the grade or grades of pellets currently delivered to each customer are based on that customer’s preferences, which depend in part on the characteristics of the customer’s steelmaking operation, in certain cases our iron ore pellets can be used interchangeably. Standard pellets require less processing, are generally the least costly pellets to produce and are called “standard” because no ground fluxstone, such as limestone or dolomite, is added to the iron ore concentrate before turning the concentrate into pellets. In the case of fluxed pellets, fluxstone is added to the concentrate, which produces pellets that can perform at higher productivity levels in the customer’s specific blast furnace and will minimize the amount of fluxstone the customer may be required to add to the blast furnace. DR-grade pellets require additional processing to make a pellet that contains higher iron and lower silica content than a standard pellet. Unlike standard or fluxed pellets, DR-grade pellets are produced to be fed into a direct reduction facility.
Beginning in 2021, we expect to also sell HBI to third-party customers, primarily EAFs with operations in the Great Lakes region. We expect our Toledo direct reduction plant to begin shipping saleable product to third-party customers during the first quarter of 2021. The Toledo direct reduction plant has a nameplate production capacity of 1.9 million metric tons, and we expect to reach its productive capacity by the second quarter of 2021.
Applied Technology, Research and Development
We have an extensive history of being an innovator dating back more than a century. From upstream research and development, to downstream applications, we have dedicated technical and engineering resources that begin with improving customers' production and manufacturing performance to applications for their end product use.
We have been a leader in iron ore mining and processing technology through the application of new technology to the centuries-old business of mineral extraction. We have also been a pioneer in iron ore pelletizing with over 60 years of experience. We are able to produce customized, environmentally friendly pellets to meet blast furnace specifications and produce standard, fluxed and DR-grade pellets.
We now have a world-class research and development team expanding our capabilities to bring new steel products to the marketplace. Rapidly evolving and highly competitive markets for our steel products require our customers to seek new, comprehensive steel solutions, and we believe we are well positioned to deliver the most robust solutions through our broad portfolio of offerings. Collaboration across our research groups and operations generates innovative and comprehensive solutions for our customers, which we believe enhances our competitive advantage.
Creating innovative products and breakthrough solutions is a strategic priority, as we believe differentiation through producing higher value steels to meet challenging requirements enables us to maintain and enhance our margins. We conduct a broad range of research and development activities aimed at improving existing products and processes and developing new ones. Our innovation of steel has produced a highly diversified steel product portfolio. As part of our underlying strategy to focus on higher-value materials and minimize exposure to commodity products, we have invested in research and innovation totaling $15 million in 2020. Our ongoing efforts at our state-of-the-art Research and Innovation Center in Middletown, Ohio, to enhance technical collaboration have increased the introduction of new steel solutions to the marketplace.
We are a pioneer in the development of emerging reduction technologies, a leader in the extraction of value from challenging resources and a front-runner in the implementation of safe and sustainable technology. We are also devoted to promoting environmental sustainability, evidenced with the development of our direct reduction plant in Toledo, Ohio. We expect our introduction of HBI to the Great Lakes EAF market will be notable in the evolution of the steel industry.
We completed construction of our Toledo direct reduction plant and began production in the fourth quarter of 2020. Our Toledo direct reduction plant is expected to produce 1.9 million metric tons of HBI per year, replacing a portion of the over 3 million metric tons of ore-based metallics that are imported into the Great Lakes region every year from Russia, Ukraine, Brazil and Venezuela, as well as approximately 20 million metric tons of scrap used in the Great Lakes area every year.
We focus much of our research and innovation efforts on carbon steel applications for automotive manufacturers and their suppliers. We are particularly focused on AHSS for the automotive market, and we produce virtually every AHSS grade currently used by our customers. Our AHSS grades, such as Dual Phase 590, 780, 980 and 1180, have been adopted by our customers for both stamped and roll-formed parts, and our NEXMET® 1000 and 1200 products have demonstrated enhanced strength, formability and opportunities for automotive light weighting in cold-stamped applications. We are also pursuing application of NEXMET 440EX and NEXMET 490EX in surface-critical, exposed auto body panels as an alternative to aluminum.
Third Generation Advanced High-Strength Steel
Our third generation NEXMET 1000 and NEXMET 1200 AHSS products enable our customers to achieve significant light weighting in the unexposed structural components of their vehicles. NEXMET 1200, for example, offers superior formability similar to conventional Dual Phase 600 steel, but at twice the strength level. We have expanded the application of the NEXMET technology to our tubular products and stamped components businesses. These AHSS products allow automotive engineers to design lightweight parts that meet rigorous service and safety requirements. The NEXMET family of steels helps our customers achieve vehicle weight savings for ambitious fuel efficiency standards while avoiding significant capital costs required to re-design production facilities to use alternative materials.
Both galvanized and cold-rolled NEXMET 1000 and NEXMET 1200 AHSS are progressing through product qualification with several original equipment manufacturer customers. A number of stamping and component assembly trials have been completed successfully, with more planned and underway. Because the timing of automotive design and production cycles spans several years, widespread automotive customer adoption of revolutionary new material such as NEXMET AHSS may also extend over several years. We expect that other automotive vehicle platforms will incorporate NEXMET AHSS in their designs and that NEXMET AHSS will become a strong differentiator for us going forward.
Downstream Steel Applications
Our portfolio of steel solutions includes the operations of Precision Partners, which provides advanced-engineered solutions, tool design and build, hot and cold-stamped components and complex assemblies for the automotive market. In addition to Precision Partners, our downstream operations include Tubular Components, which manufactures advanced tubular products for automotive and other applications using carbon and stainless steels. We believe that collaboration among our steelmaking operations and our downstream businesses can accelerate the adoption of our innovative steel products by automotive manufacturers and their Tier 1 suppliers.
Our research and technical experts have undertaken numerous collaborative projects that are generating robust solutions for our customers. Precision Partners’ expertise in tool design and stamping capabilities has allowed us to create prototype components using AK Steel’s innovative new materials and present customers with new potential steel solutions. This approach has and, we expect, will continue to demonstrate to customers that they can significantly lightweight automotive parts on an accelerated timeline and in a cost-effective manner by using our highly formable grades of AHSS in place of traditional material types.
In addition, our collaborative projects are enhancing our collective knowledge and experience in the stamping of new, advanced grades of steel, advanced engineered solutions, and tool design and build. For example, Precision Partners specializes in hot-stamping PHS for automotive applications. AK Steel’s experience as a leader in PHS and Precision Partners’ expertise in hot-stamping has enabled these teams to have greater insight into these high-growth areas and has accelerated product development and customer adoption of these automotive light weighting solutions. Likewise, collaboration with Tubular Components strategically advances our mission to innovate in AHSS for the automotive industry, as Tubular Components has been at the forefront of producing tubular products from third-generation AHSS. We believe the combination of Precision Partners’ stamping and advanced die-making capabilities, Tubular Component’s leading tube making capabilities and our breakthrough material introductions will enhance our ability to deliver innovative, steel solutions to our customers.
Precision Partners has recently been awarded contracts with several customers to supply complex assemblies and stamped automotive parts. In winning these contracts, Precision Partners has been able to leverage our hot-stamping tooling leadership, in addition to our innovative hot-stamping process, to capture new strategic opportunities and demonstrate that Precision Partners is one of the few businesses in North America that has the technical capabilities to produce a major complex assembly and stamping work of this nature.
We principally compete with domestic and foreign producers of flat-rolled carbon, plate, stainless, rail and electrical steel, carbon and stainless tubular products, aluminum, carbon fiber, concrete and other materials that may be used as a substitute for flat-rolled steels in manufactured products. Precision Partners and Tubular Components both compete against other niche companies in highly fragmented markets.
Price, quality, on-time delivery, customer service and product innovation are the primary competitive factors in the steel industry and vary in importance according to the product category and customer requirements. Steel producers that sell to the automotive market face competition from aluminum manufacturers (and, to a lesser extent, other materials) as automotive manufacturers attempt to develop vehicles that will enable them to satisfy more stringent, government-imposed fuel efficiency standards. To address automotive manufacturers’ light weighting needs that the aluminum industry is targeting, we and others in the steel industry are developing AHSS grades that we believe provide weight savings similar to aluminum, while being stronger, less costly, more sustainable, easier to repair and more environmentally friendly. Aluminum penetration has been primarily limited to specific automotive applications, such as outer panels and closures, rather than entire body designs. In addition, our automotive customers who continue to use steel, as opposed to aluminum and other alternative materials, are able to avoid the significant capital expenditures required to re-tool their manufacturing processes to accommodate the use of non-steel materials.
Mini-mills (producers using EAFs) comprise about 70% of steel production in the U.S. Their primary raw material is scrap metal, which has unpredictable and often volatile pricing. Due to the announced mini-mill capacity additions in the U.S. and increasing demand for scrap from China, we expect the price of scrap to remain elevated over historical averages, providing our integrated footprint a competitive advantage. Mini-mills also generally offer a narrower range of products than integrated steel mills, but the increasing use of pig iron and direct reduced iron have enabled them to modestly expand their product capabilities in recent years. However, we believe mini-mills often do not have the equipment capabilities to produce the product range that integrated facilities offer, nor do we believe they possess our depth of customer service, technical support, and research and innovation.
Domestic steel producers, including us, face significant competition from foreign producers. For many reasons, these foreign producers often are able to sell products in the U.S. at prices substantially lower than domestic producers. Depending on the country of origin, these reasons may include government subsidies; lower labor, raw material, energy and regulatory costs; less stringent environmental regulations; less stringent safety requirements; the maintenance of artificially low exchange rates against the U.S. dollar; and preferential trade practices in their home countries. Since late 2017, import levels of flat-rolled products into the United States have shown a gradual and steady decline and have recently been more reflective of historical levels before the unprecedented surge that began in 2014. We believe the decline is at least partially attributable to the implementation of certain trade restrictions on imported steel over the past five years, including both targeted trade cases and the more broad Section 232 tariffs. Modifications to these trade restrictions by government officials could directly or indirectly impact import levels in the future. Import levels are also affected to varying degrees by the relative level of steel production in China and other countries, the strength of demand for steel outside the U.S. and the relative strength or weakness of the U.S. dollar against various foreign currencies. Imports of finished steel into the U.S. accounted for approximately 18% of domestic steel market consumption in 2020.
We continue to provide significant pension and healthcare benefits to a great number of our retirees compared to certain other domestic and foreign steel producers that do not provide such benefits to any or most of their retirees, which increases our overall cost of production relative to certain other steelmakers. However, we have taken a number of actions to reduce pension and healthcare benefits costs, including negotiating progressive labor agreements that have significantly reduced total employment costs at all of our union-represented facilities, transferring all responsibility for healthcare benefits for various groups of retirees to VEBAs, offering voluntary lump-sum settlements to pension plan participants, lowering retiree benefit costs for salaried employees, and transferring pension obligations to highly rated insurance companies. These actions have not only reduced some of the risks associated with our pension fund obligations, but more importantly have reduced our risk exposure to performance of the financial markets, which are a principal driver of pension funding requirements. We continue to actively seek opportunities to reduce pension and healthcare benefits costs.
Our mining, steel and downstream manufacturing operations are subject to various laws and regulations governing the protection of the environment. We monitor these laws and regulations, which change over time, to assess whether the changes affect our operations. We conduct our operations in a manner that is protective of public health and the environment.
Environmental matters and their management continued to be an important focus at each of our operations throughout 2020, including operations at AK Steel (acquired in March 2020) and ArcelorMittal USA (acquired in December 2020). In the construction and operation of our facilities, substantial costs have been and will continue to be incurred to comply with regulatory requirements and avoid undue effect on the environment. In 2020, 2019, and 2018, our capital expenditures relating to environmental matters totaled approximately $34 million, $9 million, and $10 million, respectively. Our current estimate for capital expenditures for environmental improvements in 2021 is approximately $51 million for various water treatment, air quality, dust control, tailings management and other miscellaneous environmental projects. Additionally, we expect capital expenditures for environmental improvements for each of 2022 and 2023 to be generally in line with 2021's estimated spending.
Various governmental bodies continually promulgate new or amended laws and regulations that affect us, our customers, and our suppliers in many areas, including waste discharge and disposal, the classification of materials and products, air and water discharges and other environmental, health, and safety matters. Although we believe that our environmental policies and practices are sound and do not expect that the application of any current laws, regulations or permits would reasonably be expected to result in a material adverse effect on our business or financial condition, we cannot predict the collective potential adverse impact of the expanding body of laws and regulations. Moreover, because all domestic steel and mining producers operate under the same federal environmental regulations, we do not believe that we are more disadvantaged than our domestic competitors by our need to comply with these regulations. Some foreign competitors may benefit from less stringent environmental requirements in the countries where they produce, resulting in lower compliance costs for them and providing those foreign competitors with a cost advantage on their products.
Specifically, there are several notable proposed or potential rulemakings or activities that could have a material adverse impact on our facilities in the future depending on their ultimate outcome: Minnesota's potential revisions to the sulfate wild rice water quality standard; evolving water quality standards for selenium and conductivity; scope of the Clean Water Act and the definition of “Waters of the United States”; Minnesota's Mercury TMDL and associated rules governing mercury air emission reductions; Climate Change and GHG Regulation; the Regional Haze FIP Rule; and the regulation of discharges to groundwater.
Minnesota’s Sulfate Wild Rice Water Quality Standard
The Minnesota Governor established a Wild Rice Task Force by Executive Order in May 2018 that provided recommendations to the Governor’s Office on wild rice restoration and regulation. The existing water quality standard for wild rice has not been applied to any of our discharge permits or enforced in decades, and it may be unenforceable because of legislation and because the water bodies to which the existing standard applies have never been identified specifically in rule, nor are there criteria for identifying them. The MPCA is complying with the legislation that prohibits enforcement of the water quality standard until the obsolete standard is updated based on modern science. For these reasons, the impact of the proposed wild rice water quality standard to our Minnesota iron ore mining and pelletizing operations is not estimable at this time, but it could have an adverse material impact if we are required to significantly reduce sulfate in our discharges.
Selenium Discharge Regulation
In Michigan, the Empire and Tilden mines have implemented compliance plans to manage selenium according to the permit conditions. The remaining infrastructure needed for management of selenium in stormwater will likely be completed in 2021. A water treatment system for both facilities is anticipated sometime before 2028. As of December 31, 2020, included within our Empire asset retirement obligation is a discounted liability of approximately $100 million, which includes the estimated costs associated with the construction of Empire's portion of the required infrastructure and expected future operating costs of the treatment facilities. Additionally, included within our Tilden future capital plan is approximately $20 million for the construction of Tilden's portion of the required infrastructure. We are continuing to assess and develop cost effective and sustainable treatment technologies.
In July 2016, the EPA published new selenium fish tissue limits and lower lentic and lotic water column concentration criteria, which may someday increase the cost for treatment should EGLE adopt these new standards in lieu of the existing limits required by the Great Lakes Water Quality Initiative. Accordingly, we cannot reasonably estimate the timing or long-term impact of the water quality criteria to our business.
Mercury TMDL and Minnesota Taconite Mercury Reduction Strategy
In September 2014, Minnesota promulgated the Mercury Air Emissions Reporting and Reduction Rules mandating mercury air emissions reporting and reductions from certain sources, including taconite facilities. The rule is applicable to all of our Minnesota iron mining and pelletizing operations and required submittal of a Mercury Reduction Plan to the MPCA by the end of 2018 with plan implementation requirements becoming effective on January 1, 2025. In the Mercury Reduction Plan, facilities evaluated if available control technologies can technically achieve a 72% mercury reduction rate. If available control technologies cannot technically achieve a 72% mercury reduction rate, the facilities must propose alternative mercury reduction measures. One of the main tenets agreed upon for evaluating potential mercury reduction technologies during TMDL implementation and 2014 rule development proceedings was that the selected technology must meet the following “Adaptive Management Criteria”: the technology must be technically feasible; must be economically feasible; must not impact pellet quality; and must not cause excessive corrosion in the indurating furnaces or air pollution control equipment.
The Mercury Reduction Plans for our Minnesota facilities were submitted to the MPCA in December 2018. In 2020, the MPCA provided comments on the plans and we responded in a timely manner. There is currently no proven technology to cost effectively reduce mercury emissions from taconite furnaces to achieve the targeted 72% reduction rate, while satisfying all four Adaptive Management Criteria. The Mercury Reduction Plans that were submitted to the MPCA include documentation that describes the results of detailed engineering analysis and research testing on potential technologies to support this determination. The results of this analysis will continue to guide dialogue with the MPCA. Potential impacts to us are not estimable at this time because the revised Mercury Reduction Plans and additional technical information are currently being reviewed by the MPCA.
Climate Change and GHG Regulation
With the complexities and uncertainties associated with the U.S. and global navigation of the climate change issue as a whole, one of our potentially significant risks for the future is mandatory carbon pricing obligations. Policymakers are in the design process of carbon regulation at the state, regional, national and international levels. The current regulatory patchwork of carbon compliance schemes presents a challenge for multi-facility entities to identify their near-term risks. Amplifying the uncertainty, the dynamic forward outlook for carbon pricing obligations presents a challenge to large industrial companies to assess the long-term net impacts of carbon compliance costs on their operations. Our exposure on this issue includes both the direct and indirect financial risks associated with the regulation of GHG emissions, as well as potential physical risks associated with climate change adaptation. We are continuing to review the physical risks related to climate change. As an energy-intensive business, our GHG emissions inventory includes a broad range of emissions sources, such as iron ore furnaces and kilns, diesel mining equipment, and integrated steelmaking facilities, among others. As such, our most significant regulatory risks are: (1) the costs associated with on-site emissions levels (direct impacts), and (2) indirect costs passed through to us from electrical and fuel suppliers (indirect impacts).
Internationally, mechanisms to reduce emissions are being implemented in various countries, with differing designs and stringency, according to resources, economic structure and politics. The Paris Agreement to reduce global GHG emissions and limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius became effective in November 2016 with 196 signatory countries. On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order triggering the 30-day process of rejoining the Paris Agreement, beginning the process of a pledge to reduce U.S. GHG emissions. During the Obama Administration, the U.S. became a signatory to the Paris Agreement with a pledge to reduce its GHG emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2025. Continued attention to issues concerning climate change, the role of human activity in it and potential mitigation through regulation may have a material impact on our customer base, operations and financial results in the future.
In the U.S., future federal and/or state carbon regulation potentially presents a significantly greater impact to our operations. To date, the U.S. Congress has not legislated carbon constraints. In the absence of comprehensive federal carbon legislation, numerous state, regional and federal regulatory initiatives are under development or are becoming effective, thereby creating a disjointed approach to GHG control and potential carbon pricing impacts. We intend to remain active in the discussions related to legislative and regulatory changes at the federal and state levels.
Due to the potential patchwork of federal, state or regional carbon restriction schemes, our business and customer base could suffer negative financial impacts over time as a result of increased energy, environmental and other costs to comply with the limitations that would be imposed on GHG emissions. We believe our exposure can be reduced substantially by numerous factors, including currently contemplated regulatory flexibility mechanisms, such as allowance allocations, fixed process emissions exemptions, offsets and international provisions; emissions reduction opportunities, including energy efficiency, biofuels and fuel flexibility; and business opportunities associated with pursuing combined heat and power partnerships and new products, including DR-grade pellets, HBI, fluxed pellets and other efficiency-improving technologies.
Regional Haze FIP Rule
In June 2005, the EPA finalized amendments to its regional haze rules that require states to establish goals and emission reduction strategies for improving visibility in all Class I national parks and wilderness areas to natural background levels by 2064. Among the states with Class I areas are Michigan and Minnesota, in which we currently own mining operations, and Indiana, in which we own steelmaking operations. The first phase of the regional haze rule required analysis and installation of BART on eligible emission sources and incorporation of BART and associated emission limits into SIPs.
EPA disapproved Minnesota's and Michigan's BART SIPs for taconite furnaces and instead promulgated a Taconite Regional Haze FIP in February 2013. We petitioned the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals for a review of the FIP and filed a joint motion for stay of the 2013 FIP, which was granted in June 2013. We reached a settlement agreement with EPA, which was subsequently published in the Federal Register to implement components of the settlement agreement in April 2016, with an effective date of May 12, 2016. We believe the 2016 Regional Haze FIP reflects progress toward a more technically and economically feasible regional haze implementation plan. In November 2016, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals terminated the June 2013 stay and extended the deadlines in the original 2013 FIP. Cost estimates associated with implementation of the 2013 and 2016 FIPs are reflected in our five-year capital plan.
Due to inconsistencies in language describing the procedures for calculating NOx emission limits between the settlement agreement and the 2016 FIP final rule, we jointly filed a Petition for Reconsideration and Petition for Judicial Review in June 2016. We have been working toward a settlement agreement with EPA to resolve the outstanding issue with the emission limit calculation method and anticipate resolution of the issue in 2021. The outcome of this proceeding is not expected to have a material adverse impact on us.
In 2020, the states began a second decadal review, which examined if additional technological controls are warranted for certain sources. The states are required to submit their updated Regional Haze SIPs by July 2021. At this time, we do not expect any state will require additional emission control requirements on our operations. We will review and comment on SIPs as necessary in the states in which we operate.
Conductivity, the measurement of water’s ability to conduct electricity, is a surrogate parameter that generally increases as the amount of dissolved minerals in water increases. In December 2016, EPA issued a notice soliciting public comments on its draft guidance, Field-Based Methods for Developing Aquatic Life Criteria for Specific Conductivity. In April 2017, comments were submitted by our trade associations providing objective evidence indicating the draft methodology was scientifically flawed and unfit for promulgation. EPA confirmed in October 2019 that the 2016 draft guidance was rescinded in accordance with an August 2019 EPA memorandum regarding draft guidance documents and further expressed that EPA must update the science and subject future recommended methods or criteria for conductivity to peer review and public comment. Although the adoption of the previously proposed methodology is unlikely in the states, the Fond du Lac Band in Minnesota adopted certain conductivity criteria in 2020. We are assessing the impact of those criteria on our Minnesota iron ore mining and pelletizing operations and evaluating methods to challenge the criteria as a whole or on a site-by-site basis.
Definition of “Waters of the United States” Under the Clean Water Act
The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers published a final rule in October 2019 repealing the 2015 rule that was to become effective on December 23, 2019. On April 21, 2020, the EPA and the Department of the Army published the Navigable Waters Protection Rule in the Federal Register to finalize a revised definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. For the first time, the agencies have streamlined the definition so that it includes four simple categories of jurisdictional waters, provides clear exclusions for many water features that traditionally have not been regulated, and defines terms in the regulatory text that have never been defined before. The rule is on
appeal in various jurisdictions. The rule is not expected to have a material adverse effect on us, but we will continue to assess the potential impacts to our operations.
Regulation of Discharges to Groundwater
In general, states traditionally have regulated discharges of pollutants to groundwater through various programs such as wellhead protection programs and regulations related to remediation. In April 2020, the United States Supreme Court held in County of Maui v. Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund that EPA (and delegated states) have jurisdiction under the NPDES program if the discharge to groundwater is the “functional equivalent” of a discharge to waters of the United States. Until now, the NPDES program has only regulated direct discharges to waters of the United States from point sources. EPA subsequently issued a guidance document on what the term “functional equivalent” means. Although we do not anticipate that broadening EPA jurisdiction over groundwater discharges will materially adversely affect our operations, the impact to our operations is not reasonably estimable at this time.
Raw Materials and Energy
Our steelmaking operations require iron ore, coke, coal, ferrous and carbon and stainless scrap, chrome, nickel and zinc as primary raw materials. We also consume natural gas, electricity, industrial gases and diesel fuel at our steelmaking and mining operations. As a vertically integrated steel company, we are able to internally supply a majority of our raw materials needed for our steelmaking operations. We also attempt to reduce the risk of future supply shortages and price volatility in other ways. If multi-year contracts are available in the marketplace for those raw materials that we cannot supply internally, we may use these contracts to secure sufficient supply to satisfy our key raw material needs. When multi-year contracts are not available, or are not available on acceptable terms, we purchase the remainder of our raw materials needs under annual contracts or conduct spot purchases. We also regularly evaluate alternative sources and substitute materials. Additionally, we may hedge portions of our energy and raw materials purchases to reduce volatility and risk. We believe that we have secured, or will be able to secure, adequate supply to fulfill our raw materials and energy requirements for 2021.
The raw materials needed to produce a ton of steel will fluctuate based upon the specifications of the final steel products, the quality of raw materials and, to a lesser extent, differences among steel production equipment. For example, generally, in our integrated steelmaking facilities, we consume approximately 1.4 net tons of coal to produce one net ton of coke. The process to produce one ton of raw steel generally requires approximately 1.4 net tons of iron ore pellets, 0.4 net tons of coke and 0.3 net tons of steel scrap. At normal operating levels, we also consume approximately 6 MMBtu’s of natural gas per net ton produced. Additionally, on average, our EAF's require 1.1 net tons of ferrous or stainless scrap to produce one net ton of high quality steel. We consume approximately 420 kilowatt-hours of electricity per net ton of steel produced. While these estimated consumption amounts are presented to give a general sense of raw material and energy consumption used in our steel production, substantial variations may occur.
Our investment into HBI production provides us access, when needed, to clean iron units in order to make advanced steel and stainless products. This access to our own production provides us flexibility and allows us to avoid the risks and carbon footprints of imported iron substitutes. Iron substitutes imported into the U.S. are traditionally sourced from regions of the world that have historically experienced greater political turmoil and have lower pollution standards than the U.S. Our investment demonstrates our raw material and company strategy in responsibly managing the risks of pricing, availability and overall carbon footprint of our critical inputs.
We typically purchase ferrous and stainless steel scrap, natural gas, a substantial portion of our electricity and most other raw materials at prevailing market prices, which may fluctuate with market supply and demand.
We own or co-own five active iron ore mines in Minnesota and Michigan. Based on our ownership in these mines, our share of annual rated iron ore production capacity is approximately 28.0 million long tons, which supplies all of the iron ore needed for our steelmaking operations. Refer to Part I - Item 2. Properties for additional information.
Coke and Coal
We own five cokemaking facilities, including two coke batteries located within our steelmaking facilities. These facilities currently provide over half of the coke requirements for our steelmaking operations and have an annual rated capacity of approximately 3.9 million tons. Additionally, we have coke supply agreements with suppliers that provide our remaining requirements. Our purchases of coke are made under annual or multi-year agreements
with periodic price adjustments. We typically purchase most of our metallurgical coal under annual fixed-price agreements. We have annual rated metallurgical coal production capacity of 2.3 million net tons from our Princeton mine, which supplies a portion of our metallurgical coal needs. We believe there are adequate external supplies of coke and coal available at competitive market prices to meet our needs. Refer to Part I - Item 2. Properties for additional information.
Steel Scrap and Other Materials
Generally, approximately 43% of our steel scrap requirements are generated internally through normal operations. We believe that supplies of steel scrap, chrome, nickel and zinc adequate to meet the needs of our steelmaking operations are readily available from outside sources at competitive market prices.
We consume a large amount of natural gas, electricity, industrial gases and diesel fuel, which are significant costs to our operations. The majority of our energy requirements are purchased from outside sources. Access to long-term, low cost sources of energy in various forms is critically important to our operations.
Natural gas is procured for our operations utilizing a combination of long-term, annual, quarterly, monthly and spot contracts from various suppliers at market-based pricing. We believe access to low-cost and reliable sources of natural gas is available to meet our operations’ requirements.
We purchase electricity for all of our operations in either regulated or deregulated markets. Due to the distinct nature of these markets, we procure electricity through either long-term or annual contracts. Some operations also use self-generated coke oven gas and/or blast furnace gas to produce electricity, which reduces our need to purchase electricity from external sources. We also closely monitor developments at the state and federal levels that could impact electricity availability or cost and incorporate such changes into our electricity supply strategy in order to maintain reliable, low-cost supply. We believe there is an adequate supply of competitively priced electricity to fulfill our requirements.
We purchase industrial gases under long-term contracts with various suppliers. We believe we have access to adequate supplies of industrial gases to meet our needs.
We predominantly purchase diesel fuel for our mining operations under long-term contracts with various suppliers. We believe we have access to adequate supplies of diesel fuel to meet our needs.
As of December 31, 2020, we employed approximately 25,000 people. Approximately 24,000 were employed in the U.S., with the remainder employed in Ontario, Canada. Approximately 24,000 employees were employed at production facilities, with the balance employed in corporate support roles. The vast majority of our approximately 20,000 hourly employees were subject to collective bargaining agreements (approximately 18,500) with various labor unions. Overall, we have good relations with our workforce and the labor unions that represent our hourly employees.
We believe that our future success largely depends upon our continued ability to attract and retain a highly skilled workforce. We provide our employees with competitive salaries, incentive-based bonus programs that provide above-market compensation opportunities when the Company performs well, development programs that enable continued learning and growth, and a robust benefit package that promotes well-being across all aspects of their lives, including health care, retirement planning and paid time off. In addition to these programs, we have used targeted, equity-based grants with vesting conditions to facilitate retention of key personnel. These tools have enabled us to increase the retention of key personnel, including our corporate and site leadership teams and critical technical talent.
The success of our business is fundamentally connected to the well-being of our people. Accordingly, we are committed to the health, safety and wellness of our employees. We provide our employees and their families with access to a variety of innovative, flexible and convenient health and wellness programs, including benefits that provide protection and security so they can have peace of mind concerning events that may require time away from work or that impact their financial well-being; that support their physical and mental health by providing tools and resources to help them improve or maintain their health and encourage engagement in healthy behaviors; and that offer choice where possible so they can customize their benefits to meet their needs and the needs of their families. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we implemented significant changes that we determined were in the best interest of our employees, as well as the communities in which we operate, and which comply with government regulations. This includes having all employees who could perform their work remotely work from home, while implementing numerous safety measures for employees continuing critical on-site work at our operations.
Safe production is our primary core value as we continue toward achieving a zero injury culture at our facilities. We constantly monitor our safety performance and make continuous improvements to affect change. Best practices and incident learnings are shared globally to ensure each facility can administer the most effective policies and procedures for enhanced workplace safety. Progress toward achieving our objectives is accomplished through a focus on proactive sustainability initiatives, and results are measured against established industry and company benchmarks, including our company-wide Total Reportable Incident Rate. During 2020, our Total Reportable Incident Rate (including contractors) was 0.92 per 200,000 hours worked.
Refer to Exhibit 95 Mine Safety Disclosures (filed herewith) for mine safety information required in accordance with Section 1503(a) of the Dodd-Frank Act.
Our headquarters are located at 200 Public Square, Suite 3300, Cleveland, Ohio 44114-2315, and our telephone number is (216) 694-5700. We are subject to the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act and its rules and regulations. The Exchange Act requires us to file reports, proxy statements and other information with the SEC.
The SEC maintains a website that contains reports, proxy statements and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC. These materials may be obtained electronically by accessing the SEC’s home page at www.sec.gov.
We use our website, www.clevelandcliffs.com, as a channel for routine distribution of important information, including news releases, investor presentations and financial information. We also make available, free of charge on our website, our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and amendments to these reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act, as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file these documents with, or furnish them to, the SEC. In addition, our website allows investors and other interested persons to sign up to receive automatic email alerts when we post news releases and financial information on our website.
We also make available, free of charge, the charters of the Audit Committee, Strategy and Sustainability Committee, Governance and Nominating Committee and Compensation and Organization Committee as well as the Corporate Governance Guidelines and the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics adopted by our Board of Directors. These documents are available through our investor relations page on our website at www.clevelandcliffs.com. The SEC filings are available by selecting “Financial Information” and then “SEC Filings,” and corporate governance materials are available by selecting “Corporate Governance” for the Board Committee Charters, operational governance guidelines and the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics.
References to our website or the SEC’s website do not constitute incorporation by reference of the information contained on such websites, and such information is not part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Copies of the above-referenced information are also available, free of charge, by calling (216) 694-5700 or upon written request to:
200 Public Square, Suite 3300
Cleveland, OH 44114-2315
INFORMATION ABOUT OUR EXECUTIVE OFFICERS
Following are the names, ages and positions of the executive officers of the Company as of February 26, 2021. Unless otherwise noted, all positions indicated are or were held with Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.
|Lourenco Goncalves||63||Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer (August 2014 – present); and Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Metals USA Holdings Corp., an American manufacturer and processor of steel and other metals (May 2006 – April 2013).|
|Clifford T. Smith||61||Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer (January 2019 – present); Executive Vice President, Business Development (April 2015 – January 2019).|
|Keith A. Koci||56||Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer (February 2019 – present); and Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Metals USA Holdings Corp. (2013 – February 2019).|
|Terry G. Fedor||56||Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Steel Mills (March 2020 – present); Executive Vice President, Operations (February 2019 – March 2020); and Executive Vice President, U.S. Iron Ore (January 2014 – January 2019).|
|Traci L. Forrester||49||Executive Vice President, Business Development (May 2019 – present); Vice President (January 2018 – May 2019); Deputy General Counsel & Assistant Secretary (January 2017 – May 2019); and Assistant General Counsel (August 2013 – January 2017).|
|James D. Graham||55||Executive Vice President (November 2014 – present); Chief Legal Officer (March 2013 – present); and Secretary (March 2014 – present).|
|Maurice D. Harapiak||59||Executive Vice President, Human Resources (March 2014 – present); and Chief Administration Officer (January 2018 – present).|
|Kimberly A. Floriani||38||Vice President, Corporate Controller & Chief Accounting Officer (April 2020 – present); Director, Accounting & Reporting (August 2015 – April 2020); Manager, Financial Reporting (January 2012 – August 2015).|
All executive officers serve at the pleasure of the Board. There are no arrangements or understandings between any executive officer and any other person pursuant to which an executive officer was selected to be an officer of the Company. There is no family relationship between any of our executive officers, or between any of our executive officers and any of our directors.
An investment in our common shares or other securities is subject to risks inherent in our businesses and the industries in which we operate. Described below are certain risks and uncertainties, the occurrences of which could have a material adverse effect on us. The risks and uncertainties described below include known material risks that we face currently, but our material risks are constantly evolving and the below descriptions may not include future risks that are not presently known, that are not currently believed to be material or that are common to all businesses. Although we have extensive risk management policies, practices and procedures in place that are aimed to mitigate these risks, the occurrence of these uncertainties may nevertheless impair our business operations and adversely affect the actual outcome of matters as to which forward-looking statements are made. This report is qualified in its entirety by these risk factors. Before making an investment decision, investors should consider carefully all of the risks described below together with the other information included in this report and the other reports we file with the SEC.
Management has identified several categories of material risk that we are subject to, including: (I) economic and market, (II) regulatory, (III) financial, (IV) operational, (V) development and sustainability and (VI) human capital. Although the risks are organized by these headings, and each risk is discussed separately, many are interrelated.
I. ECONOMIC AND MARKET RISKS
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had, and is expected to continue to have, an adverse impact on our businesses.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to impact countries, communities, supply chains and markets. Responses by individuals, governments and businesses to the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to reduce its spread, including quarantines, travel restrictions, business closures, and mandatory stay-at-home or work-from-home orders, have led to significant disruptions to overall business and economic activity. While vaccines are now being manufactured and distributed, it is currently unknown when or whether the economy will return to pre-pandemic levels of consumer and business activity.
During 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected our businesses by temporarily curtailing certain of our end markets. In particular, the automotive industry, which we rely on directly and indirectly for a significant amount of our sales, was severely disrupted during the first half of 2020. The slowdown in the automotive industry led, in turn, to disruptions to our operations. For example, although our steel and mining operations are considered “essential” by the states in which we operate, certain of our mining and production facilities were idled for various periods during 2020 in response to the decrease in customer demand. While we were able to resume operations at many of these facilities later in 2020, we cannot predict whether any other production facilities or mines will experience disruptions in the future as a result of adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the risk that a significant portion of our workforce and on-site contractors will suffer illness or otherwise be unable to perform their ordinary work functions. While we instituted remote work policies where practical across our footprint, the safe and responsible operation of our production facilities often requires that workers be on-site. Accordingly, during 2020, we experienced direct and indirect workforce impacts from COVID-19 at many of our operations. We also may need to reduce our workforce as a result of declines in our business caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and there can be no assurance that we will be able to rehire our workforce once our business has recovered. We may also experience supply chain disruptions or operational issues with our vendors, as our suppliers and contractors face similar challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, we cannot predict the full extent to which our businesses, results of operations, financial condition or liquidity will ultimately be impacted. To the extent the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affects our businesses, it may also have the effect of exacerbating many of the other risks described in this ‘‘Risk Factors’’ section, any of which could have a material adverse effect on us.
The volatility of commodity prices, including steel and iron ore, affects our ability to generate revenue, maintain stable cash flows and fund our operations, including growth and expansion projects.
Our profitability is dependent upon the prices of the steel and iron ore products that we sell to our customers and the prices of the products our customers sell. As an integrated producer of steel and iron ore, we experience direct impacts of steel price fluctuations through customer sales, as well as direct and indirect impacts of iron ore price fluctuations through third-party sales and the impacts that fluctuations in iron ore prices have on steel prices. The prices of steel and iron ore have fluctuated significantly in the past and are affected by factors beyond our control, including: international demand for raw materials used in steel production; rates of global economic growth, especially
construction and infrastructure activity that requires significant amounts of steel; changes in the levels of economic activity in the U.S., China, India, Europe and other industrialized or developing economies; changes in China’s emissions policies and environmental compliance enforcement practices; changes in the production capacity, production rate and inventory levels of other steel producers and iron ore suppliers; changes in trade laws; volumes of unfairly traded imports; imposition or termination of duties, tariffs, import and export controls and other trade barriers impacting the steel and iron ore markets; weather-related disruptions, infectious disease outbreaks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, or natural disasters that may impact the global supply of steel or iron ore; and the proximity, capacity and cost of infrastructure and transportation.
Our earnings, therefore, may fluctuate with the prices of the products we sell and of the products our customers sell. To the extent that the prices of steel and iron ore, including the hot-rolled coil steel price, coated and other specialty steel prices, the Platts 62% Price, pellet premiums and Platts international indexed freight rates, significantly decline for an extended period of time, whether due to the COVID-19 pandemic or otherwise, we may have to further revise our operating plans, including curtailing production, reducing operating costs and capital expenditures, and discontinuing certain exploration and development programs. We also may have to take impairments on our goodwill, intangible assets, long-lived assets and/or inventory. Sustained lower prices also could cause us to further reduce existing mineral reserves if certain reserves no longer can be economically mined or processed at prevailing prices. We may be unable to decrease our costs in an amount sufficient to offset reductions in revenues and may incur losses. These events could have a material adverse effect on us.
We sell a significant portion of our steel products to the automotive market and fluctuations or changes in the automotive market could adversely affect our business operations and financial performance.
For the full-year 2020, approximately 40% of AK Steel’s and ArcelorMittal USA's combined sales were to the automotive market. Beyond these direct sales to the automotive industry, we make additional sales to distributors and converters, which may ultimately resell some of that volume to the automotive market. In addition to the size of our exposure to the automotive industry, we face risks arising from our relative concentration of sales to certain specific automotive manufacturers, including several significant customers that idled certain automotive production facilities in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, automotive production and sales are cyclical and sensitive to general economic conditions and other factors, including interest rates, consumer credit, and consumer spending and preferences, as well as the current COVID-19 pandemic. If automotive production and sales decline, our sales and shipments to the automotive market are likely to decline in a corresponding manner. Adverse impacts that we may sustain as a result include, without limitation, lower margins because of the need to sell our steel to less profitable customers and markets, higher fixed costs from lower steel production if we are unable to sell the same amount of steel to other customers and markets, and lower sales, shipments, pricing and margins generally as our competitors face similar challenges and compete vigorously in other markets that we serve. These adverse impacts would negatively affect our sales, financial results and cash flows. Additionally, the trend toward light weighting in the automotive industry, which requires lighter gauges of steel at higher strengths, could result in lower steel volumes required by that industry over time.
Moreover, despite our newly acquired position as the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America, competition for automotive business has intensified in recent years, as steel producers and companies producing alternative materials have focused their efforts on capturing and/or expanding their market share of automotive business because of less favorable conditions in other markets for steel and other metals, including commodity products and steel for use in the oil and gas markets. As a result, the potential exists that we may lose market share to existing or new entrants or that automotive manufacturers will take advantage of the intense competition among potential suppliers during annual contract renewal negotiations to pressure our pricing and margins in order to maintain or expand our market share with them, which could negatively affect our sales, financial results and cash flows.
Global steelmaking overcapacity, steel imports and oversupply of iron ore could lead to lower or more volatile global steel and iron ore prices, impacting our profitability.
Significant global steel capacity and new or expanded production capacity in North America in recent years has caused and continues to cause capacity to exceed demand globally, as well as in our primary markets in North America. Although certain of our U.S. competitors temporarily shut down production capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic, a restart of previously idled capacity and the development of new capacity by our U.S. competitors has occurred in recent months and may occur in the future in connection with any economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, foreign competitors have substantially increased their steel production capacity in the last few years and in some instances appear to have targeted the U.S. market for imports. Also, some foreign economies, such as China, have slowed relative to recent historical norms, resulting in an increased volume of steel
products that cannot be consumed by industries in those foreign steel producers’ own countries. The risk of even greater levels of imports may continue, depending upon foreign market and economic conditions, changes in trade agreements and treaties, laws, regulations or government policies affecting trade, the value of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies and other variables beyond our control. A significant further increase in domestic steel capacity or foreign imports could adversely affect our sales, financial results and cash flows. In addition, recent increases in the market prices of iron ore products could cause new producers to enter the market or existing producers to expand productive capacity. Excess iron ore supply combined with reduced global steel demand, including in China, could lead to lower iron ore prices, which would typically contribute to lower steel prices, as iron ore is a principal steelmaking raw material. Downward pressure on iron ore and/or steel prices could have an adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition and profitability.
Severe financial hardship or bankruptcy of one or more of our major customers or key suppliers could adversely affect our business operations and financial performance.
Sales and operations of a majority of our customers are sensitive to general economic conditions, especially, with respect to our steel customers, as they affect the North American automotive, housing, construction, appliance, energy and other industries. Some of our customers are highly leveraged. If there is a significant weakening of current economic conditions, whether because of operational, cyclical or other issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic, it could impact significantly the creditworthiness of our customers and lead to other financial difficulties or even bankruptcy filings by our customers. Failure to receive payment from our customers for products that we have delivered could adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity. The concentration of customers in a specific industry, such as the automotive industry, may increase our risk because of the likelihood that circumstances may affect multiple customers at the same time. For example, during the first half of 2020, the automotive industry was significantly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which concurrently adversely impacted multiple customers. Such events could cause us to experience lost sales or losses associated with the potential inability to collect all outstanding accounts receivable and reduced liquidity. Similarly, if our key suppliers face financial hardship or need to operate in bankruptcy, such suppliers could experience operational disruption or even face liquidation, which could result in our inability to secure replacement raw materials on a timely basis, or at all, or cause us to incur increased costs to do so. Such events could adversely impact our operations, financial results and cash flows.
II. REGULATORY RISKS
U.S. government actions on trade agreements and treaties, laws, regulations or policies affecting trade could lead to lower or more volatile global steel or iron ore prices, impacting our profitability.
In recent years, the U.S. government has altered its approach to international trade policy, both generally and with respect to matters directly and indirectly affecting the steel industry, including by undertaking certain unilateral actions affecting trade, renegotiating existing bilateral or multilateral trade agreements, and entering into new agreements or treaties with foreign countries. For example, in March 2018, the U.S. government issued a proclamation pursuant to Section 232 imposing a 25% tariff on imported steel that was being unfairly traded by certain foreign competitors at artificially low prices. In retaliation against the Section 232 tariffs, the European Union subsequently imposed its own tariffs against certain steel products and other goods imported from the U.S. Moreover, in light of the U.S. government leadership changes resulting from the November 2020 federal congressional and presidential elections, it is currently uncertain what changes, if any, the U.S. government may make to its recent tariff and trade policies and priorities. If, for example, the Section 232 tariffs are removed or substantially lessened, whether through legal challenge, legislation, executive action or otherwise, imports of foreign steel would likely increase and steel prices in the U.S. would likely fall, which could materially adversely affect our sales, financial results and cash flows.
In addition, during 2020, the USMCA was implemented among the U.S., Mexico and Canada in place of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Because all of our steel manufacturing facilities are located in North America and one of our principal markets is automotive manufacturing in North America, we believe that the USMCA has the potential to positively impact our business by incentivizing automakers and other manufacturers to increase manufacturing production in North America and to use North American steel. However, it is difficult to predict the short- and long-term implications of changes in trade policy and, therefore, whether the USMCA or other new or renegotiated trade agreements, treaties, laws, regulations or policies that may be implemented in connection with the recent U.S. government leadership changes, or otherwise, will have a beneficial or detrimental impact on our business and our customers’ and suppliers’ businesses. Adverse effects could occur directly from a disruption to trade and commercial transactions and/or indirectly by adversely affecting the U.S. economy or certain sectors of the economy, impacting demand for our customers’ products and, in turn, negatively affecting demand for our products. Important
links of the supply chain for some of our key customers, including automotive manufacturers, could be negatively impacted by the USMCA or other new or renegotiated trade agreements, treaties, laws, regulations or policies. Any of these actions and their direct and indirect impacts could materially adversely affect our sales, financial results and cash flows.
Although we may currently benefit from certain antidumping and countervailing duty orders, any such relief is subject to periodic reviews and challenges, which can result in revocation of the orders or reduction of the duties. In addition, previously granted and future petitions for trade relief may not be successful or fully effective at preventing harm. Even if received, it is uncertain if any relief will be continued in the future or will be adequate to counteract completely the harmful effects of unfairly traded imports.
We are subject to extensive governmental regulation, which imposes, and will continue to impose, potential significant costs and liabilities on us. Future laws and regulations or the manner in which they are interpreted and enforced could increase these costs and liabilities or limit our ability to produce our raw materials and products.
New laws or regulations, or changes in existing laws or regulations, including the response of federal, state, local and foreign governments to the COVID-19 pandemic or arising out of the changes in U.S. government leadership resulting from the November 2020 elections, or the manner of their interpretation or enforcement, could increase our cost of doing business and restrict our ability to operate our businesses or execute our strategies. This includes, among other things, changes in the interpretation of MSHA regulations, such as workplace exam rules or safety around mobile equipment, reevaluation of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, such as revised nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, lead, ozone and particulate matter criteria, changes in the interpretation of OSHA regulations, such as standards for occupational exposure to noise, certain chemicals or hazardous substances and infectious diseases, and the possible taxation under U.S. law of certain income from foreign operations.
In addition, we and our operations are subject to various international, foreign, federal, state, provincial and local laws and regulations relating to protection of the environment and human health and safety, including those relating to air quality, water pollution, plant, wetlands, natural resources and wildlife protection (including endangered or threatened species), reclamation, remediation and restoration of properties and related surety bonds or other financial assurances, land use, the discharge of materials into the environment, the effects that industrial operations and mining have on groundwater quality, conductivity and availability, the management of electrical equipment containing polychlorinated biphenyls, and other related matters. Compliance with numerous governmental permits and approvals is required for our operations. We cannot be certain that we have been or will be at all times in complete compliance with such laws, regulations, permits and approvals. If we violate or fail to comply with these laws, regulations, permits or approvals, we could be fined, required to cease operations, subject to criminal or civil liability, or otherwise sanctioned by regulators. In particular, federal or state regulatory agencies have the authority, under certain circumstances following significant health and safety incidents, such as fatalities, to order a facility to be temporarily or permanently closed. Compliance with the complex and extensive laws and regulations to which we are subject imposes substantial costs on us, which could increase over time because of heightened regulatory oversight, adoption of more stringent environmental, health and safety standards and greater demand for remediation services leading to shortages of equipment, supplies and labor, as well as other factors.
Specifically, there are several notable proposed or recently enacted rulemakings or activities to which we would be subject or that would further regulate and/or tax us and our customers, which may also require us or our customers to reduce or otherwise change operations significantly or incur significant additional costs, depending on their ultimate outcome. These emerging or recently enacted rules, regulations and policy guidance include, but are not limited to: governmental regulations imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; trade regulations, such as the USMCA and/or other trade agreements, treaties or policies; tariffs, such as the 25% tariff on imported steel imposed under Section 232; Minnesota’s potential revisions to the sulfate wild rice water quality standard; evolving water quality standards for selenium and conductivity; scope of the Clean Water Act and the definition of “Waters of the United States”; Minnesota’s Mercury TMDL and associated rules governing mercury air emission reductions; Climate Change and GHG Regulation; the Regional Haze FIP Rule; and the regulation of discharges to water. In addition, the Biden Administration has indicated via executive orders and in campaign statements that it will propose more stringent environmental regulation, in particular related to climate change. Any new or more stringent legislation, regulations, rules, interpretations or orders, when enacted and enforced, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition or profitability.
Our operations may be impacted by the recent enactment, and ongoing consideration, of significant federal and state laws and regulations relating to certain mine-related issues, such as the stability of tailings basins, mine drainage and fill activities, reclamation and safety in underground mines. With respect to underground mines, for
example, these laws and regulations include requirements for constructing and maintaining caches for the storage of additional self-contained self-rescuers throughout underground mines; installing rescue chambers in underground mines; continuous tracking of and communication with personnel in the mines; installing cable lifelines from the mine portal to all sections of the mine to assist in emergency escape; submission and approval of emergency response plans; and additional safety training. Additionally, there are requirements for the prompt reporting of accidents and increased fines and penalties for violations of these and existing regulations. These laws and regulations may cause us to incur substantial additional costs.
Additionally, our operations are subject to the risks of doing business abroad and we must comply with complex foreign and U.S. laws and regulations, which may include, but are not limited to, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other anti-bribery laws, regulations related to import/export and trade controls, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation and other U.S. and foreign privacy regulations, and transportation and logistics regulations. These laws and regulations may increase our costs of doing business in international jurisdictions and expose our operations and our employees to elevated risk. We require our employees, contractors and agents to comply with these and all other applicable laws and regulations, but failure to do so could result in possible administrative, civil or criminal liability and reputational harm to us and our employees. We may also be indirectly affected through regulatory changes that impact our customers, which in turn could reduce the quantity of our products they demand or the prices for our products they are willing to pay. Regulatory changes that impact our suppliers could decrease the supply of products or availability of services they sell to us or could increase the price they demand for products or services they sell to us.
Our operations inadvertently may impact the environment or cause exposure to hazardous substances, which could result in material liabilities to us.
Our operations currently use, and have in the past used, hazardous materials, and, from time to time, we have generated solid and hazardous waste. We have been, and may in the future be, subject to claims under international, foreign, federal, state, provincial and local laws and regulations for toxic torts, natural resource damages and other damages as well as for the investigation and clean-up of soil, surface water, sediments, groundwater and other natural resources and reclamation of properties. Such claims for damages and reclamation may arise out of current or former conditions at sites that we or our acquired companies currently own, lease or operate, as well as sites that we or our acquired companies formerly owned, leased or operated, and at contaminated sites that are or have been owned, leased or operated by our joint venture partners. We may also have liability for contamination at third-party sites where we have sent hazardous wastes. Our liability for these claims may be strict and/or joint and several, such that we may be held responsible for more than our share of the contamination or other damages, or even for entire claims regardless of fault. We are currently subject to potential liabilities relating to investigation and remediation activities at certain sites. In addition to sites currently owned, leased or operated, these include sites where we formerly conducted raw material processing or other operations, inactive sites that we currently own, formerly owned predecessor sites, acquired sites, leased land sites and third-party waste disposal sites. We may be named as a potentially responsible party at other sites in the future and we cannot be certain that the costs associated with these additional sites will not exceed any reserves we have established or otherwise be material.
We also are subject to claims asserting bodily injuries arising from alleged exposure to hazardous substances. For example, certain of our subsidiaries have been named in lawsuits claiming exposure to asbestos, many of which have been dismissed and/or settled for non-material amounts. It is likely that similar types of claims will continue to be filed in the future.
We may be unable to obtain, maintain, renew or comply with permits necessary for our operations or be required to provide additional financial assurances, which could reduce our production, cash flows, profitability and available liquidity.
We must obtain, maintain and comply with numerous permits that require approval of operational plans and impose strict conditions on various environmental, health and safety matters in connection with our steel production and processing and mining and other operations. These include permits issued by various federal, state, provincial, foreign and local agencies and regulatory bodies. The permitting rules are complex and may change over time, making our ability to comply with the applicable requirements more difficult or impractical and costly, possibly precluding the continuance of ongoing operations or the development of future operations. Interpretations of rules may also change over time and may lead to requirements, such as additional financial assurance, making it costlier to comply. For example, heightened levels of regulatory oversight with respect to our coal operations acquired as part of the AM USA Transaction could impact, delay or disrupt our ability to obtain new or renewed permits or modifications to existing permits.
In addition, the public, including special interest groups and individuals, have certain rights under various statutes to comment upon, submit objections to, and otherwise engage in the permitting process, including bringing citizens’ lawsuits to challenge such permits or activities. Accordingly, required permits may not be issued or renewed in a timely fashion (or at all), or permits issued or renewed may include conditions that we cannot meet or otherwise be conditioned in ways that may restrict our ability to conduct our production and mining activities efficiently or include requirements for additional financial assurances that we may not be able to provide on commercially reasonable terms (or at all), which could reduce available borrowing capacity under our ABL Facility. Such conditions, restrictions or requirements could reduce our production, cash flows, profitability or liquidity.
III. FINANCIAL RISKS
Our existing and future indebtedness may limit cash flow available to invest in the ongoing needs of our businesses, which could prevent us from fulfilling our obligations under our senior notes, ABL Facility and other debt, and we may be forced to take other actions to satisfy our obligations under our debt, which may not be successful.
As of December 31, 2020, we had $5,595 million aggregate principal amount of long-term debt outstanding, $2,195 million of which was secured (excluding $247 million of outstanding letters of credit and $335 million of finance leases), and $112 million of cash on our balance sheet. On December 9, 2020, in connection with the consummation of the AM USA Transaction, we amended our ABL Facility to, among other things, increase the tranche A revolver commitments available under the ABL Facility by an additional $1,500 million. After giving effect to this amendment, the aggregate principal amount of tranche A revolver commitments under our ABL Facility is $3,350 million, and the aggregate principal amount of tranche B revolver commitments under our ABL Facility remains at $150 million. As of December 31, 2020, $1,510 million was outstanding under our ABL Facility, and the principal amount of letters of credit obligations and other commitments totaled $247 million. As of December 31, 2020, the available borrowing capacity on our ABL Facility was $1,743 million.
We dedicate a portion of our cash flow from operations to the payment of debt service, reducing the availability of our cash flow to fund capital expenditures, acquisitions or strategic development initiatives, and other general corporate purposes. Our ability to make scheduled payments on or to refinance our debt obligations depends on our ability to generate cash in the future and our financial condition and operating performance, which are subject to prevailing economic and competitive conditions and to certain financial, business and other factors beyond our control, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. There can be no assurance that we will maintain a level of cash flows from operating activities sufficient to permit us to pay the principal, premium, if any, and interest on our debt. In addition, any failure to comply with covenants in the instruments governing our debt could result in an event of default that, if not cured or waived, would have a material adverse effect on us.
Our level of indebtedness could have further consequences, including, but not limited to, increasing our vulnerability to adverse economic or industry conditions, placing us at a competitive disadvantage compared to other businesses in the industries in which we operate that are not as leveraged and that may be better positioned to withstand economic downturns, limiting our flexibility to plan for, or react to, changes in our businesses and the industries in which we operate, and requiring us to refinance all or a portion of our existing debt. We may not be able to refinance on commercially reasonable terms or at all, and any refinancing of our debt could be at higher interest rates and may require us to comply with more onerous covenants, making it more difficult to obtain surety bonds, letters of credit or other financial assurances that may be demanded by our vendors or regulatory agencies, particularly during periods in which credit markets are weak.
A portion of our borrowing capacity and outstanding indebtedness bears interest at a variable rate based on LIBOR. There is considerable uncertainty regarding the publication of LIBOR beyond 2021. The uncertainty regarding the future of LIBOR, as well as the transition from LIBOR to another benchmark rate or rates, could have adverse impacts on our outstanding debt that currently uses LIBOR as a benchmark rate and, in turn, could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
If we are unable to service our debt obligations, we could face substantial liquidity problems and we may be forced to reduce or delay investments and capital expenditures, or to sell assets, seek additional capital, including additional secured or unsecured debt, or restructure or refinance our debt, and we may be unable to continue as a going concern. We may be unable to consummate any proposed asset sales or recover the carrying value of these assets, and any proceeds may not be adequate to meet any debt service obligations then due. Any of these examples potentially could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations, profitability, shareholders’ equity and capital structure.
Changes in credit ratings issued by nationally recognized statistical rating organizations could adversely affect our cost of financing and the market price of our securities.
Credit rating agencies could downgrade our ratings due to various developments, including matters arising out of the AK Steel Merger or the AM USA Transaction, incurring additional indebtedness and other factors specific to our businesses, a prolonged cyclical downturn in the steel and mining industries, whether due to the COVID-19 pandemic or otherwise, or macroeconomic trends (such as global or regional recessions), and trends in credit and capital markets more generally. Any decline in our credit ratings may result in an increase to our cost of future financing or limit our access to the capital markets, which could harm our financial condition, hinder our ability to refinance existing indebtedness on acceptable terms, or have an adverse effect on the market price of our securities and the terms under which we purchase goods and services.
Our actual operating results may differ significantly from our guidance.
From time to time, we release guidance, including that set forth under “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations–Outlook” in our Annual Reports on Form 10-K and our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, regarding our future performance. This guidance, which consists of forward-looking statements, is prepared by our management and is qualified by, and subject to, the assumptions and the other information included in our Annual Reports on Form 10-K and our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q. Our guidance is not prepared with a view toward compliance with published guidelines of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and neither our independent registered public accounting firm nor any other independent or outside party compiles or examines the guidance and, accordingly, no such person expresses any opinion or any other form of assurance with respect thereto.
Guidance is based upon a number of assumptions and estimates that, while presented with numerical specificity, are inherently subject to business, economic and competitive uncertainties and contingencies, many of which are beyond our control and are based upon specific assumptions with respect to future business decisions, some of which will change. The principal reason that we release such data is to provide a basis for our management to discuss our business outlook with analysts and investors. We do not accept any responsibility for any projections or reports published by any such third parties.
Guidance is necessarily speculative in nature, and it can be expected that some or all of the assumptions of the guidance furnished by us will not materialize or will vary significantly from actual results. Accordingly, our guidance is only an estimate of what management believes is realizable as of the date of release. Actual results will vary from the guidance. Investors should also recognize that the reliability of any forecasted financial data diminishes the further in the future that the data are forecast. In light of the foregoing, investors are urged to put the guidance in context and not to place undue reliance on it.
Any failure to successfully implement our operating strategy or the occurrence of any of the risks described in our Annual Reports on Form 10-K or our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q could result in actual operating results being different than the guidance, and such differences may be adverse and material.
Our assets as of December 31, 2020 include a deferred tax asset, the full value of which we may not be able to realize.
We recognize deferred tax assets and liabilities based on differences between the financial statement carrying amounts and the tax basis of assets and liabilities. At December 31, 2020, the net deferred tax asset was $492 million, primarily related to U.S. NOLs. We regularly review our deferred tax assets for recoverability based on our history of earnings, expectations for future earnings and expected timing of reversals of temporary differences. Realization of deferred tax assets ultimately depends on the existence of sufficient taxable income. We believe the recorded net deferred tax asset at December 31, 2020, is fully realizable based on our expected future earnings. However, our assumptions and estimates are inherently subject to business, economic and competitive uncertainties and contingencies, many of which are beyond our control and some of which may change. As a result, we could ultimately lose a portion of our deferred tax asset related to NOLs due to expiration, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and cash flows.
The ability to use our NOLs and certain other tax attributes to offset future taxable income may be subject to certain limitations.
If a corporation undergoes an “ownership change” within the meaning of Section 382 of the IRC, the corporation’s NOLs and certain other tax attributes arising before the “ownership change” are subject to limitations after the “ownership change.” An “ownership change” under Section 382 of the IRC generally occurs if one or more
shareholders or groups of shareholders who own at least 5% of the corporation’s equity increase their ownership in the aggregate by more than 50 percentage points over their lowest ownership percentage within a rolling period that begins on the later of three years prior to the testing date and the date of the last “ownership change.” If an “ownership change” were to occur, Section 382 of the IRC would impose an annual limit on the amount of pre-ownership change NOLs and other tax attributes the corporation could use to reduce its taxable income, potentially increasing and accelerating the corporation’s liability for income taxes, and also potentially causing tax attributes to expire unused. The amount of the annual limitation is determined based on a corporation’s value immediately prior to the ownership change.
As of December 31, 2020, after taking into account limitations (or disallowance) on use, we had $2,510 million and $1,009 million of available U.S. federal and state NOLs, respectively, including amounts acquired in the AK Steel Merger. The use of our common shares in the Acquisitions in conjunction with subsequent issuances or sales of our shares (including transactions that are outside of our control) could cause us to experience an “ownership change.” If we experience an “ownership change” under Section 382 of the IRC, further limitations (or disallowances) may apply and similar rules may also apply under state and foreign laws. Consequently, we may not be able to utilize a material portion of our NOLs and other tax attributes, which, in addition to increasing our U.S. federal and state income tax liability, could adversely affect our share price, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Holders of our common shares may not receive dividends on their common shares.
We are not required to declare cash dividends on our common shares and, in April 2020, we announced the suspension of future dividends. Holders of our common shares are entitled to receive only such dividends as our Board may from time to time declare out of funds legally available for such payments. We are incorporated in Ohio and governed by the Ohio General Corporation Law, which allows a corporation to pay dividends, in general, in an amount that cannot exceed its surplus, as determined under Ohio law. Our ability to pay dividends will be subject to our future earnings, capital requirements and financial condition, as well as our compliance with covenants and financial ratios related to existing or future indebtedness, business prospects and other factors that our Board may deem relevant. Additionally, our ABL Facility contains, and agreements governing any of our future debt may contain, covenants and other restrictions that, in certain circumstances, could limit the level of dividends that we are able to pay on our common shares.
IV. OPERATIONAL RISKS
We face significant risks relating to our recent acquisitions of the AK Steel and ArcelorMittal USA businesses.
During 2020, we completed both the AK Steel Merger and the AM USA Transaction. These recent transformative acquisitions involve a number of significant risks and uncertainties that may adversely affect us, including the following:
•inability to realize anticipated synergies or other expected benefits or cost savings;
•additional debt incurred or assumed in connection with the acquisitions could limit our financial flexibility, including our ability to acquire additional assets and make further strategic investments in the future;
•diversion of financial resources to the new operations or acquired businesses;
•assumption of substantial additional environmental exposures, commitments, contingencies and remediation and reclamation projects;
•liabilities for acquired pension and OPEB obligations, which could require us to make significant cash expenditures and funding contributions in excess of current estimates and contribution rates;
•impairment of recorded tangible and intangible asset values, including goodwill, could result in material non-cash charges to our results of operations in the future;
•failure to successfully integrate acquired systems, business processes, policies and procedures;
•exposure to unknown liabilities and unforeseen costs that were not discovered during due diligence;
•loss of human capital resources and support services historically provided by ArcelorMittal and potential failure of ArcelorMittal or its affiliates to perform under various contracts entered into in connection with the AM USA Transaction, including the intellectual property license agreement, slab supply agreement and
transition services agreement, which could adversely impact our integration of the ArcelorMittal USA operations;
•potential loss of key employees, suppliers or customers; and
•other challenges associated with managing the larger, more complex and integrated combined businesses.
If one or more of these risks and uncertainties were to materialize, we could experience reduced sales, higher costs, lower profitability and other adverse impacts to our operations and businesses.
In addition, in connection with the closing of the AM USA Transaction, we issued approximately 78 million of our common shares to an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of ArcelorMittal, equating to approximately 16% of our then-outstanding common shares. On February 11, 2021, in connection with our sale of 20 million of our common shares in an underwritten public offering, such subsidiary of ArcelorMittal, as a selling shareholder in the offering, sold 40 million of our common shares. We believe such subsidiary of ArcelorMittal continues to hold approximately 38 million of our common shares, equating to approximately 8% of our outstanding common shares following completion of such offering. Although ArcelorMittal and its affiliates are subject to certain restrictions and requirements under an Investor Rights Agreement with respect to its and its affiliates' ownership and voting of our common shares, at such a level of beneficial ownership, ArcelorMittal and its affiliates may be able to exert influence over us and actions requiring the approval of our common shareholders. Under the Investor Rights Agreement, ArcelorMittal and its affiliates are permitted to transfer all of our common shares held by them, subject to certain restrictions on transfers to persons whose beneficial ownership of our common shares following any such transfer would exceed 5% or 10% of our then-outstanding common shares. Sales of our shares by ArcelorMittal and its affiliates or other shareholders, coupled with the increase in the outstanding number of our common shares, may affect the market for, and the market price of, our common shares in an adverse manner.
We also issued 583,273 shares of Series B Preferred Stock to an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of ArcelorMittal in connection with the closing of the AM USA Transaction. Pursuant to the terms of the Series B Preferred Stock, from and after the 24-month anniversary of the issue date of the Series B Preferred Stock (the “24-Month Anniversary”), each holder of a share of Series B Preferred Stock is entitled to receive cash dividends (the “Additional Dividends”) that will accrue and compound at a significant rate. Although the Series B Preferred Stock is redeemable at our option 180 days after the issue date, the agreements governing our debt may restrict us from paying the redemption price at any given time. If we are unable to redeem the Series B Preferred Stock prior to the 24-Month Anniversary and we become obligated to pay the Additional Dividends, we may be required to divert financial resources from our operations or borrow additional debt in order to satisfy such obligations, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We have limited ability to control our joint venture operations, rely on our joint venture partners to meet their payment obligations, and are subject to risks involving the acts or omissions of our joint venture partners.
As part of the AM USA Transaction, we acquired ArcelorMittal USA’s interest in Hibbing and again became the manager of Hibbing, which we co-own with U.S. Steel. In our steel business, we are party to various joint venture arrangements primarily related to downstream steel processing operations. Due to shared ownership, we have limited ability to control our joint venture operations, and we cannot control the actions of our joint venture partners. Accordingly, we rely on our joint venture partners to make their required capital contributions and to pay for their share of joint venture obligations. If our joint venture partners experience financial hardship or fail to perform their obligations, we may be required to assume additional material obligations to minimize operational disruption or as part of a liquidation, including significant capital contributions, costs of environmental remediation, and pension and OPEB obligations.
Our operating expenses could increase significantly if the price of raw materials, electrical power, fuel or other energy sources increases.
Our operations require significant use of energy and raw materials. Energy expenses are sensitive to changes in electricity, energy transportation and fuel prices, including diesel fuel and natural gas. Although we are self-sufficient in iron ore, other raw materials or production inputs where we are wholly or partially dependent on third-party suppliers include industrial gases, graphite electrodes, scrap, chrome, zinc, coke and coal. Prices for electricity, natural gas, fuel oils and raw materials can fluctuate widely with availability and demand levels from other users, including fluctuations caused by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. During periods of peak usage, although some operations have contractual arrangements in place whereby they receive certain offsetting payments in exchange for electricity load reduction, supplies of energy and raw materials in general may be curtailed and we may not be able to purchase them at historical rates. A disruption in the transmission of energy, inadequate energy transmission
infrastructure, or the termination of any of our energy supply contracts could interrupt our energy supply and adversely affect our operations. While we have some long-term contracts with electrical, natural gas and raw material suppliers, we are exposed to fluctuations in energy, natural gas and raw material costs that can affect our production costs. As an example, our Toledo direct reduction plant is subject to changes in the market price of natural gas, which is a key input in the direct reduction of iron ore pellets to produce HBI. We enter into many market-based pricing supply contracts for electricity, natural gas and diesel fuel for use in our operations. Those contracts expose us to price increases in energy costs, which could cause our profitability to decrease significantly. In addition, U.S. public utilities may impose rate increases and pass through additional capital and operating cost increases to their customers related to new or pending U.S. environmental regulations or other charges that may require significant capital investment and use of cleaner fuels in the future. In particular, the recent decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacating and remanding the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, as well as recent executive orders from President Biden regarding the environment and climate change, indicate that new or revised regulations under the Biden Administration could result in rate increases from U.S. utilities.
The majority of our steel shipments are sold under contracts that do not allow us to pass through all increases in raw materials, supplies and energy costs. Some of our steel shipments to contract customers include variable-pricing mechanisms allowing us to adjust the total sales price based on changes in specified raw materials, supplies and energy costs. Those adjustments, however, rarely reflect all of our underlying raw materials, supplies and energy cost changes. The scope of the adjustment may also be limited by the terms of the negotiated language, including limitations on when the adjustment occurs. Our need to consume existing inventories may also delay the impact of a change in prices of raw materials or supplies. Significant changes in raw material costs may also increase the potential for inventory value write-downs in the event of a reduction in selling prices and our inability to realize the cost of the inventory.
Steelmaking facility or mine closures entail substantial costs. If our assumptions underlying our accruals for closure costs prove to be inaccurate or we prematurely close one or more of our facilities or mines, our results of operations and financial condition would likely be adversely affected.
If faced with overcapacity in the market or other adverse conditions, including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we may seek to rationalize assets through asset sales, temporary shutdowns, indefinite idles or facility closures. If we indefinitely idle or permanently close any of our facilities or mines, our production and revenues would be reduced unless we were able to increase production at our other facilities or mines in an offsetting amount, which may not be possible, and could result in customers responding negatively by taking current or future business away from us if we seek to transition production to a different facility. Alternatively, we could fail to meet customer specifications at the facilities to which products are transitioned, resulting in customer dissatisfaction or claims.
The closure of a steelmaking facility or mining operation involves significant closure costs, including reclamation and other environmental costs, the costs of terminating long-term obligations, including customer, energy and transportation contracts and equipment leases, and certain accounting charges, including asset impairment and accelerated depreciation. In addition, a permanent steelmaking facility or mine closure could accelerate and significantly increase employment legacy costs, including our expense and funding costs for pension and OPEB obligations and multiemployer pension withdrawal liabilities. A number of employees would be eligible for immediate retirement under special eligibility rules that apply upon a steelmaking facility or mine closure. All employees eligible for immediate retirement under the pension plans at the time of the permanent closure also could be eligible for OPEB, thereby accelerating our obligation to provide these benefits. Certain closures would precipitate a pension closure liability significantly greater than an ongoing operation liability and may trigger certain severance liability obligations.
We base our assumptions regarding the life of our mines on detailed studies we perform from time to time, but those studies and assumptions are subject to uncertainties and estimates that may not be accurate. We recognize the costs of reclaiming open pits, stockpiles, tailings ponds, roads and other mining support areas based on the estimated mining life of our property. If our assumptions underlying our accruals for closure costs, including reclamation and other environmental costs, prove to be inaccurate or insufficient, or our liability in any particular year is greater than currently anticipated, our results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected. In addition, if we were to significantly reduce the estimated life of any of our mines, the mine closure costs would be applied to a shorter period of production, which would increase costs per ton produced and could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
Our sales and competitive position depend on the ability to transport our products to our customers at competitive rates and in a timely manner.
Disruption of the lake, rail and/or trucking transportation services because of weather-related problems, including ice and winter weather conditions on the Great Lakes or St. Lawrence Seaway, climate change, strikes, lock-outs, driver shortages and other disruptions in the trucking industry, rail network constraints, global or domestic pandemics or epidemics (such as the COVID-19 pandemic) or other infectious disease outbreaks, in each case causing a business disruption, or other events and lack of alternative transportation options could impair our ability to move products internally among our facilities and to supply products to our customers at competitive rates or in a timely manner and, thus, could adversely affect our sales, margins and profitability. Further, dredging issues and environmental changes, particularly at Great Lakes ports, could impact adversely our ability to move certain of our products or result in higher freight rates. Similarly, we depend on third-party transportation services for delivery of raw materials to us, and failures or delays in delivery would have an adverse effect on our ability to maintain steady-state production operations to meet customer obligations.
Natural or human-caused disasters, weather conditions, disruption of energy, unanticipated geological conditions, equipment failures, infectious disease outbreaks, and other unexpected events may lead our customers, our suppliers or our facilities to curtail production or shut down operations.
Operating levels within our industry and the industries of our customers and suppliers are subject to unexpected conditions and events that are beyond the industries’ control. Those events, including the occurrence of an infectious disease or illness, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, could cause industry members or their suppliers to curtail production or shut down a portion or all of their operations, which could reduce the demand for our products and adversely affect our sales, margins and profitability. For example, the temporary production shutdowns in the automotive industry during 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated reduction in demand for our products led to our decision to temporarily idle certain steelmaking facilities and iron ore mines.
Our operating levels are subject to conditions beyond our control that can delay deliveries or increase the cost of production for varying lengths of time. Factors that could cause production disruptions could include adverse weather conditions (for example, extreme winter weather, tornadoes, floods, and the lack of availability of process water due to drought) and natural and man-made disasters, lack of adequate raw materials, energy or other supplies, and infectious disease outbreaks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, factors that could adversely impact production and operations at our mining operations include tailings dam failures, pit wall failures, unanticipated geological conditions, including variations in the amount of rock and soil overlying deposits of iron ore and coal, variations in rock and other natural materials, and variations in geologic conditions and processing changes.
Our mining operations, processing facilities, steelmaking and logistics operations depend on critical pieces of equipment. This equipment may, on occasion, be out of service because of unanticipated failures or unplanned outages. In addition, most of our mines and production and processing facilities have been in operation for several decades, and the equipment is aged. In the future, we may experience additional lengthy shutdowns or periods of reduced production because of equipment failures. Further, remediation of any interruption in production capability may require us to make large capital expenditures that could have a negative impact on our profitability and cash flows. Our business interruption insurance would not cover all of the lost revenues associated with equipment failures. Longer-term business disruptions could result in a loss of customers, which could adversely affect our future sales levels and revenues.
Many of our production facilities and mines are dependent on one source for electric power, natural gas, industrial gases and/or certain other raw materials or supplies. A significant interruption in service from our suppliers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, terrorism or sabotage, weather conditions, natural disasters, equipment failure or any other cause could result in substantial losses that may not be fully recoverable, either from our business interruption insurance or responsible third parties.
We incur certain costs when production capacity is idled, as well as increased costs to resume production at previously idled facilities.
Our decisions concerning which facilities to operate and at what production levels are made based in part upon our customers’ orders for products, as well as the quality, performance capabilities and cost of our operations. During depressed market conditions, we may concentrate production at certain facilities and not operate others in response to customer demand, and as a result we may incur idle costs that could offset our anticipated savings from not operating the idled facility. For example, due to reduced demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, certain of our steelmaking facilities and iron ore mines were temporarily idled during portions of 2020 and we continued to incur
certain fixed costs at those facilities. We cannot predict whether our operations will experience additional disruptions in the future.
When we restart idled facilities, we incur certain costs to replenish inventories, prepare the previously idled facilities for operation, perform the required repair and maintenance activities, and prepare employees to return to work safely and resume production responsibilities. The amount of any such costs can be material, depending on a variety of factors, such as the period of idle time, necessary repairs and available employees, and is difficult to project.
We may not have adequate insurance coverage for some business risks.
Our operations are generally subject to a number of hazards and risks, which could result in personal injury or damage to, or destruction of, equipment, properties or facilities. The insurance that we maintain to address risks that are typical in our businesses may not provide adequate coverage. Insurance against some risks, such as liabilities for environmental pollution, tailings basin breaches, or certain hazards or interruption of certain business activities, may not be available at an economically reasonable cost, or at all. Even if available, we may self-insure where we determine it is most cost effective to do so. As a result, despite the insurance coverage that we carry, accidents or other negative developments involving our production, mining, processing or transportation activities causing losses in excess of policy limits, or losses arising from events not covered under insurance policies, could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and cash flows.
A disruption in or failure of our IT systems, including those related to cybersecurity, could adversely affect our business operations and financial performance.
We rely on the accuracy, capacity, integrity and security of our IT systems for the operation of many of our business processes and to comply with regulatory, legal and tax requirements. While we maintain some of our critical IT systems, we are also dependent on third parties to provide important IT services relating to, among other things, operational process technology at our facilities, human resources, electronic communications and certain finance functions. Further, in connection with the Acquisitions, we inherited certain legacy hardware and software IT systems that can be supported only by a very limited number of specialists in the market, and our increased reliance on these legacy IT systems may increase the risk of IT system disruption or failure, which could adversely affect our operations.
Despite the security measures that we have implemented, including those related to cybersecurity, our IT systems could be breached or damaged by computer viruses, natural or man-made incidents or disasters, or unauthorized physical or electronic access or intrusions. Though we have controls in place, we cannot provide assurance that a cyberattack will not occur. Furthermore, we may have little or no oversight with respect to security measures employed by third-party service providers, which may ultimately prove to be ineffective at countering threats. We may also experience increased risk of IT system failures or cyberattacks as many of our employees continue to work from home as part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, we may experience increased risk of IT system failures or cyberattacks as transitional activities relating to the Acquisitions are in progress, since these activities expose each company to the other’s security vulnerabilities, and because the Acquisitions may attract the attention of potential cyber criminals.
Failures of our IT systems, whether caused maliciously or inadvertently, may result in the disruption of our business processes, or in the unauthorized release of sensitive, confidential, personally identifiable or otherwise protected information, or result in the corruption of data, each of which could adversely affect our businesses. For example, cybersecurity vulnerabilities could result in an interruption of the functionality of our automated manufacturing operating systems, which, if compromised, could cease, threaten, delay or slow down our ability to produce or process steel or any of our other products for the duration of such interruption, which could result in reputational harm and may adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows. In addition, any compromise of the security of our IT systems could result in a loss of confidence in our security measures and subject us to litigation, regulatory investigations and negative publicity that could adversely affect our reputation and financial condition. Our customers, suppliers and vendors may also access or store certain of our sensitive information on their IT systems, which, if breached, attacked or accessed by unauthorized persons, could likewise expose our sensitive information and adversely impact our businesses. Furthermore, as cybersecurity threats continue to evolve and become more sophisticated, we may be required to incur significant costs and invest additional resources to protect against and, if required, remediate the damage caused by such disruptions or system failures in the future.
V. DEVELOPMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY RISKS
The cost and time to implement a strategic capital project may prove to be greater than originally anticipated.
From time to time, we undertake strategic capital projects, such as our recently-completed Toledo direct reduction plant, in order to enhance, expand or upgrade our production and mining capabilities or diversify our customer base. Our ability to achieve the anticipated production volumes, revenues or otherwise realize acceptable returns on strategic capital projects that we may undertake is subject to a number of risks, many of which are beyond our control, including a variety of market (such as a volatile pricing environment for our products), operational, permitting and labor-related factors. Further, the cost to implement any given strategic capital project ultimately may prove to be greater and may take more time than originally anticipated. Inability to achieve the anticipated results from the implementation of our strategic capital projects, incurring unanticipated implementation costs or penalties, or the inability to meet contractual obligations could adversely affect our results of operations and future earnings and cash flow generation.
We must continually replace reserves depleted by production. Exploration activities may not result in additional discoveries.
Our ability to replenish mineral reserves is important to our long-term viability. Depleted reserves must be replaced by further delineation of existing mineral bodies or by locating new deposits in order to maintain production levels over the long term. Decisions to defer mine development activities may adversely impact our ability to substantially increase future mineral production. Resource exploration and development are highly speculative in nature. Exploration projects involve many risks, require substantial expenditures and may not result in the discovery of sufficient additional mineral deposits that can be mined economically. Once a mineral body is discovered, it may take several years from the initial phases of drilling until production is possible, during which time the economic feasibility of production may change. Substantial expenditures are required to establish recoverable proven and probable reserves and to construct mining and processing facilities. As a result, there is no assurance that current or future exploration programs will be successful, and there is a risk that depletion of reserves will not be offset by discoveries or acquisitions.
We rely on estimates of our recoverable reserves, which is complex due to geological characteristics of the properties and the number of assumptions made.
We regularly evaluate our iron ore and coal reserves based on revenues and costs and update them as required in accordance with SEC regulations. We anticipate further updating our mining properties disclosure in accordance with the SEC’s Final Rule 13-10570, Modernization of Property Disclosures for Mining Registrants, which became effective February 25, 2019, and which rescinds SEC Industry Guide 7 following a two-year transition period, which means that we will be required to comply with the new rule no later than our fiscal year beginning January 1, 2021.
Estimates of reserves and future net cash flows necessarily depend upon a number of variable factors and assumptions, some of which are beyond our control, such as production capacity, effects of regulations by governmental agencies, future prices for iron ore and coal, future industry conditions and operating costs, severance and excise taxes, development costs, and costs of extraction and reclamation. Estimating the quantity and grade of reserves requires us to determine the size, shape and depth of our mineral bodies by analyzing geological data, such as samplings of drill holes. Estimated reserves could be affected by future industry conditions, future changes in the SEC’s mining property disclosure requirements, geological conditions and ongoing mine planning. Actual volume and grade of reserves recovered, production rates, revenues and expenditures with respect to our reserves will likely vary from estimates, and if such variances are material, our sales and profitability could be adversely affected.
Defects in title or loss of any leasehold interests in our mining properties could limit our ability to mine these properties or result in significant unanticipated costs.
Many of our operations are conducted on properties we lease, license or as to which we have easements or other possessory interests. We generally do not maintain title insurance on our properties. A title defect or the loss of any lease, license, easement or other possessory interest for any mining property could adversely affect our ability to mine any associated reserves. In addition, from time to time the rights of third parties for competing uses of adjacent, overlying or underlying lands, such as for roads, easements, public facilities or other mining activities, may affect our ability to operate as planned if our title is not superior or mutually acceptable arrangements cannot be negotiated. Any challenge to our title could delay the exploration and development of some reserves, deposits or surface rights, cause us to incur unanticipated costs, and could ultimately result in the loss of some or all of our interest in those properties.
In the event we lose reserves, deposits or surface rights, we may be required to shut down or significantly alter impacted mining operations, thereby affecting future production, revenues and cash flows.
In order to continue to foster growth in our businesses and maintain stability of our earnings, we must maintain our social license to operate with our stakeholders.
Maintaining a strong reputation and consistent operational, environmental and safety track record is vital in order to continue to foster growth and maintain stability in our earnings. As stakeholders’ sustainability expectations increase and regulatory requirements continue to evolve, maintaining our social license to operate becomes increasingly important. Our ability to maintain our reputation and strong operating track record could be threatened, including by challenges relating to the integration of the AK Steel and ArcelorMittal USA businesses or by circumstances outside of our control, such as disasters caused or suffered by other companies in the steel and mining industries. If we are not able to respond effectively to these and other challenges to our social license to operate, our reputation could be damaged significantly. Damage to our reputation could adversely affect our operations and ability to foster growth projects.
VI. HUMAN CAPITAL RISKS
Our profitability could be adversely affected if we fail to maintain satisfactory labor relations.
Our production is dependent upon the efforts of our employees. We are party to labor agreements with various labor unions that represent employees at the majority of our operations. Such labor agreements are negotiated periodically, and, therefore, we are subject to the risk that these agreements may not be able to be renewed on reasonably satisfactory terms. It is difficult to predict what issues may arise as part of the collective bargaining process, and whether negotiations concerning these issues will be successful. Due to union activities or other employee actions, we could experience labor disputes, work stoppages or other disruptions in our production that could affect us adversely. We have labor agreements that will expire at five locations in 2021 and sixteen locations in 2022. If we enter into a new labor agreement with any union that significantly increases our labor costs relative to our competitors or fail to come to an agreement upon expiry, our ability to compete or continuity of production may be materially and adversely affected.
We may encounter labor shortages for critical operational positions, which could adversely affect our ability to produce our products.
We are predicting a long-term shortage of skilled workers in heavy industry and in certain highly specialized IT roles, and competition for the available workers limits our ability to attract and retain employees as well as engage third-party contractors. As our experienced employees retire, we may have difficulty replacing them at competitive wages. In addition, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted and may continue to result in increased government restrictions and regulation, including quarantines of our personnel and potential inability to access facilities, which has adversely affected and could continue to adversely affect our operations.
Our expenditures for pension and OPEB obligations could be materially higher than we have predicted if our underlying assumptions differ from actual outcomes, there are regulatory changes or our joint venture partners fail to perform their obligations that relate to employee pension plans.
We provide defined benefit pension plans and OPEB to certain eligible union and non-union employees, including our share of expense and funding obligations with respect to our unconsolidated joint ventures. Our pension and OPEB expenses and our required contributions to our pension and OPEB plans are affected directly by the value of plan assets, the projected and actual rate of return on plan assets, and the actuarial assumptions we use to measure our defined benefit pension plan obligations, including the rate at which future obligations are discounted. We cannot predict whether changing market or economic conditions, regulatory changes or other factors will increase our pension and OPEB expenses or our funding obligations, diverting funds we would otherwise apply to other uses.
We have calculated our unfunded pension and OPEB obligations based on a number of assumptions. If our assumptions do not materialize as expected, cash expenditures and costs that we incur could be materially higher. Moreover, we cannot be certain that regulatory changes will not increase our obligations to provide these or additional benefits. These obligations also may increase substantially in the event of adverse medical cost trends or unexpected rates of early retirement, particularly for bargaining unit retirees. In addition, changes in the laws governing pensions could also materially adversely affect our costs and ability to meet our pension obligations.
We also contribute to certain multiemployer pension plans, including the Steelworkers’ Pension Trust, for which we are one of the largest contributing employers. If other contributors were to default on their obligations to contribute to any such plans, we could become liable for additional unfunded contributions to the plans.
In addition, some of the transactions in which we previously sold or otherwise disposed of our non-core assets included provisions transferring certain pension and other liabilities to the purchasers or acquirers of those assets. While we believe that all such transfers were completed properly and are legally binding, if the purchaser fails to fulfill its obligations, we may be at risk that a court, arbitrator or regulatory body could disagree and determine that we remain responsible for pension and other liabilities that we intended to and did transfer.
We depend on our senior management team and other key employees, and the loss of these employees could adversely affect our businesses.
Our success depends in part on our ability to attract, retain, develop and motivate our senior management and key employees. Achieving this objective may be difficult due to a variety of factors, including fluctuations in the global economic and industry conditions, competitors’ hiring practices, cost reduction activities, and the effectiveness of our compensation programs. Competition for qualified personnel can be intense. We must continue to recruit, retain, develop and motivate our senior management and key personnel in order to maintain our business and support our projects. A loss of senior management and key personnel could prevent us from capitalizing on business opportunities, and our operating results could be adversely affected. We are also subject to the risk that the COVID-19 pandemic may impact the health or effectiveness of members of our senior management team or other key employees.
|Item 1B.||Unresolved Staff Comments|
We have no unresolved comments from the SEC.
The following map shows the locations of our operations and offices as of December 31, 2020:
We lease our corporate headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio. We also have leased office space in West Chester, Ohio and Chicago, Illinois. We own our office space located in Richfield, Ohio, and our Research and Innovation Center located in Middletown, Ohio.
Steelmaking and Finishing Facilities
Below is a listing and description of our principal steelmaking and finishing facilities:
Burns Harbor is a fully integrated steelmaking facility located on Lake Michigan in Northwest Indiana, 50 miles southeast of Chicago. The location allows for prime shipping access to the Port of Indiana, as well as excellent highway and railroad transport. Burns Harbor’s major production facilities include coke plant operations, iron producing, steel producing, hot rolling and finishing and plate rolling and heat treating. The plant operates two blast furnaces and is capable of producing hot-rolled sheet, cold-rolled sheet and hot dip galvanized sheet. Burns Harbor is capable of producing nearly 5 million net tons of raw steel annually. Burns Harbor serves key markets including the automotive, appliance, construction, converters, distribution and pipe and tube markets.
Burns Harbor Plate and Gary Plate are located in Burns Harbor and Gary, Indiana, respectively, and are heat treating and finishing operations producing carbon steel plate, high-strength low alloy steel plate and ASTM grades steel plate. These operations serve the construction, distribution, energy, heavy equipment, infrastructure, military, pipe and tube, rail car and shipbuilding markets.
Butler Works is located in Butler, Pennsylvania, and produces stainless, electrical and carbon steel. Melting takes place in an EAF that feeds an argon-oxygen decarburization unit for the specialty steels. A ladle metallurgy furnace feeds two double-strand continuous casters, which are capable of producing 1 million net tons of raw steel annually. Butler Works also includes a hot rolling mill, annealing and pickling units and two tandem cold rolling mills. It also has various intermediate and finishing operations for both stainless and electrical steels. Butler Works primarily serves the power and distribution transformers and stainless and carbon converters markets.
The Cleveland facility is an integrated steelmaking facility strategically located on the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, with access to the Port of Cleveland and Great Lakes shipping, as well as excellent highway and railroad transport. The Cleveland facility is supplied with coke from our cokemaking operations in Warren, Ohio. Cleveland's major production facilities include two blast furnaces, two steel producing facilities, an 84-inch hot strip mill, a pickling line, a five-stand tandem mill, and a hot dip coating line. The plant's two blast furnaces feed the two steelmaking facilities, which are capable of producing more than 3 million net tons of raw steel annually. Products made at this location are hot-rolled, cold-rolled and hot-dipped galvanized sheet and semi-finished slabs. The Cleveland facility serves the automotive, construction, converters and distribution markets.
The Kote and Tek operations are located in New Carlisle, Indiana, and receive substantially all of their feedstock from Indiana Harbor via daily unit trains. Cleveland-Cliffs Tek is a continuous cold-rolling plant that is capable of producing 1.7 million net tons of sheet steel annually through a continuous descale cold mill and 1.0 million net tons of sheet steel annually through a continuous annealing processing line. Cleveland-Cliffs Kote has separate lines producing 0.5 million net tons of hot-dip galvanized and galvannealed and 0.5 million net tons of electrogalvanized sheet annually. The principal customers of Kote and Tek are in the automotive and appliance markets.
Coatesville is a steel plate production facility located in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, about 40 miles west of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and has access to highways and railroads. The facility produces steel from scrap in an EAF and is capable of producing approximately 0.8 million net tons of raw steel annually. The facility also operates ingot teeming facilities, a slab caster, two plate mills, heat-treating facilities, quench and temper and flame-cut shape facilities. The Coatesville facility refines more than 450 different steel chemistries and, together with the Conshohocken facility, produces some of the widest, thickest and heaviest steel plates in the industry. Steel plate products made at this location include carbon, high-strength low-alloy, commercial alloy, military alloy and flame-cut steel. Coatesville serves the aircraft and aerospace, construction, distribution, energy, heavy equipment, military, mold and tool and shipbuilding markets.
Our Columbus operations include a hot-dip galvanizing facility in Columbus, Ohio, and a processing facility in nearby Obetz, Ohio. These operations are temporarily idled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These central Ohio locations are able to utilize highway and rail transport shipping access. Two zinc pots enable the transition between
coatings to be accomplished in a timely manner while allowing for longer exposed runs. The plant produces hot-dip galvanized sheet using cold-rolled coils supplied by other Cliffs facilities and is capable of coating 450,000 net tons annually. The Columbus operations serve the automotive and distribution markets.
Conshohocken is a plate finishing facility located on the Schuylkill River adjacent to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The area is surrounded by highway and railroad systems that provide shipping access. Coatesville supplies steel plate to the Conshohocken plant, which operates heat treat, finishing and inspection facilities for steel plate finishing. The Conshohocken plant has a steckel mill that is currently idled, which is capable of producing coil and discrete plates. Conshohocken plate products are used in construction and military applications.
Coshocton Works is located in Coshocton, Ohio, and consists of a stainless steel finishing plant containing two Sendzimer mills and two Z-high mills for cold reduction, four annealing and pickling lines, bell annealing furnaces, two bright annealing lines, two temper mills, and other processing equipment, including temper rolling, slitting and a packaging line. Coshocton Works produces various flat-rolled stainless steel products including austenitic (chrome nickel) stainless steel grades, martensitic (chrome) stainless steel grades and ferritic (chrome) stainless steel grades, serving the automotive, appliance, distribution and medical markets among others.
Dearborn Works is located in Dearborn, Michigan, with carbon steel melting, casting, cold rolling and finishing operations for carbon steel. The major production facilities include a blast furnace, basic oxygen furnaces, two ladle metallurgy furnaces, a vacuum degasser, two slab casters, a pickling line tandem cold mill and a hot-dipped galvanizing line. Dearborn Works is capable of producing between 2 and 3 million net tons of raw steel annually. Products made at this location include carbon slabs, hot dip galvanized ZINCGRIP®, hot dip galvannealed ZINCGRIP GA steel and AHSS. Dearborn Works serves the automotive, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, converters and distribution markets. During 2020, the Dearborn Works hot strip mill, anneal and temper operations were permanently idled as part of our cost reduction efforts.
Indiana Harbor is one of the largest integrated steelmaking facilities in North America and is located in East Chicago, Indiana, just 20 miles southeast of Chicago, Illinois. The major production facilities include three blast furnaces, two of which are currently operating, a recycle plant, four basic oxygen furnaces, ladle metallurgy facilities and vacuum degassing, four continuous casting machines, a slab dimensioning facility, an 80-inch hot strip mill, a pickling line, a five-stand tandem mill, batch and continuous annealing, a temper mill and two hot-dip galvanizing lines. Indiana Harbor currently operates two blast furnaces capable of producing 5.5 million net tons of raw steel annually and has a diverse facility capable of making a full range of flat products, including AHSS, American Petroleum Institute pipe skelp, motor-laminations, automotive exposed and martinsitic grades. Indiana Harbor is a leader in North American development of new automotive products, and is a primary supplier of coils to Kote and Tek. Indiana Harbor serves the automotive, appliance, contractor applications, distribution, strip converters and tubular markets.
Mansfield Works is located in Mansfield, Ohio, and produces high chrome ferritics and martensitic stainless steels and semi-finished hot bands. The major production facilities include a melt shop with two EAFs, an argon oxygen decarburization unit, a ladle metallurgy facility, a thin slab continuous caster, a walking beam slab furnace and a hot rolling mill. The thin slab caster uses an advanced technology production system to meet customer specifications. Mansfield Works is capable of producing approximately 0.6 million net tons of raw steel annually. Mansfield Works serves the automotive and appliance for stainless products markets.
Middletown Works is an integrated steel operation with carbon steel melting, casting, hot and cold rolling, and finishing operations located in Middletown, Ohio. The major production facilities include a coke facility, a blast furnace, basic oxygen furnaces, a Composition Adjustment by Sealed argon bubbling – Oxygen Blowing (CAS-OB), a vacuum degasser and a continuous caster for the production of carbon steel, which is capable of producing nearly 3 million net tons of raw steel annually. Middletown Works also has a hot strip mill, pickling lines, a five-stand cold mill, an electrogalvanizing line, a hot dip carbon and stainless aluminizing line, a hot dip galvanizing line, box annealing furnaces, temper mills and an open coil annealing facility for finishing products. Products made at this location include hot-rolled and cold-rolled carbon steels, enameling steels, electrogalvanized ZINCGRIP ELECTRASMOOTH® steels, hot dip galvanized ZINCGRIP products and aluminized carbon and stainless steels. Middletown Works serves the automotive, appliance, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, culvert and distribution markets.
Piedmont is a finishing facility located in Newton, North Carolina, 50 miles northwest of Charlotte. The facility specializes in plasma cutting plate steel products into blanks for machinery and automotive manufacturers and primarily serves the truck axle blank business. Additionally, it provides services such as part leveling and just-in-time deliveries.
Riverdale is a compact strip mill that produces hot-rolled sheet located in Illinois, 14 miles west of our Indiana Harbor facility. The location allows for close shipping access to Lake Michigan, and is surrounded by highway and railroad systems. The Riverdale facility operates two basic oxygen furnaces, a ladle metallurgy facility, continuous thin slab caster, tunnel furnace and hot strip mill, which are capable of producing approximately 1 million net tons of thin-slab casting and rolling annually. The light gauge capabilities and tight gauge tolerances are desired characteristics for line pipe and structural and mechanical tubing producers. Principal products made at this plant include hot-rolled black bands in a full range of grades, including high carbon and alloy. The Riverdale facility primarily serves cold-rolled strip producers who supply the automotive, saw blade and strapping markets.
Rockport Works is located on the Ohio River in southwest Indiana near Rockport, Indiana. Rockport Works consists of a carbon and stainless steel finishing plant containing a continuous cold rolling mill, a continuous hot-dip galvanizing and galvannealing line, a continuous carbon and stainless steel pickling line, a continuous stainless steel annealing and pickling line, hydrogen annealing facilities and a temper mill. Utilizing innovative manufacturing technologies, the plant incorporates automated guidance vehicles and automated cranes to move the steel through the various finishing operations. Steels from Rockport Works include a full range of cold-rolled carbon, coated and stainless steels in either the annealed and pickled or temper rolled surface condition. Product offerings include a wide variety of AHSS. The Rockport Works hot dip galvanizing and galvannealing line incorporates revolutionary proprietary technologies, including induction transition heating, which provides rapid, accurate annealing temperature control. In addition, the Rockport Works line produces 80-inch sheet steel. Rockport Works serves the automotive, appliance, heating, ventilation and air conditioning and distribution for carbon and stainless markets.
Steelton is one of only three rail producers in North and South America and is located in Steelton, Pennsylvania, about 100 miles west of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Steelton consists of a 150 net ton direct current EAF with ladle refining and vacuum degassing, a three-strand continuous jumbo bloom caster and an ingot teeming facility. Steelton has an annual steelmaking capacity of 1 million net tons. Steelton produces railroad rails, specialty blooms and flat bars for use in railroad and forging markets.
Our Weirton facility is a tinplate facility located on the northern panhandle of West Virginia along the Ohio River in the city of Weirton, West Virginia. The location provides shipping access along the Ohio River, as well as highway and railroad shipping. Products made at this location include cold-rolled and tinplate products serving the distribution and packaging markets.
Zanesville Works is located on the Muskingum River in Zanesville, Ohio. The finishing facility's products include regular GOES and cold-rolled NOES. These specialty flat-rolled steels enable customers to create a variety of products, including generators, transformers and a host of other electrical devices. The primary markets Zanesville Works serves are the power and distribution transformers markets.
In the aggregate, we have annual production capacity of approximately 23 million net tons of raw steel. Due to the timing of the Acquisitions and the idling of facilities in response to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, our steelmaking facilities produced a total of 4 million net tons of raw steel during the year ended December 31, 2020.
Direct Reduction Plant, Iron Ore Mines and Pellet Plants
Our direct reduction plant is located in Toledo, Ohio, and is near an existing dock, has rail access and heavy haul roads for operation logistics. We are leasing the property on which the plant is located. Our Toledo direct reduction plant, which began production in the fourth quarter of 2020, produces a specialized high quality iron alternative to scrap and pig iron. The Toledo direct reduction plant has annual capacity of 1.9 million metric tons of HBI per year, and we expect to reach full production rate by the second quarter of 2021.
All of our iron ore mining operations are open-pit mines. Additional pit development is underway as required by long-range mine plans. Drilling programs are conducted periodically to collect modeling data and for refining ongoing operations.
Geologic models are developed for all mines to define the major ore and waste rock types. Computerized block models for iron ore are constructed that include all relevant geologic and metallurgical data. These are used to generate grade and tonnage estimates, followed by detailed mine design and life of mine operating schedules.
We currently own or co-own five operating iron ore mines in Michigan and Minnesota, as well as one indefinitely idled mine in Michigan. Following the AM USA Transaction, we now have an aggregate annual production capacity of approximately 28 million long tons of iron ore pellets, including our 85.3% share of the Hibbing mine production. Historically, our share of production capacity was approximately 21 million long tons of iron ore pellets
annually. We produced 17 million, 20 million and 20 million long tons of iron ore pellets in 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
Our iron ore mines produce from deposits located within the Biwabik and Negaunee Iron Formation, which are classified as Lake Superior type iron formations that formed under similar sedimentary conditions in shallow marine basins approximately two billion years ago. Magnetite and hematite are the predominant iron oxide ore minerals present, with lesser amounts of goethite and limonite. Quartz is the predominant waste mineral present, with lesser amounts of other chiefly iron bearing silicate and carbonate minerals. The ore minerals liberate from the waste minerals upon fine grinding.
The Hibbing mine is located in the center of Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range and is approximately ten miles north of Hibbing, Minnesota, and five miles west of Chisholm, Minnesota. We own an 85.3% interest in the Hibbing mine, which has been operating since 1976. A subsidiary of U.S. Steel owns the remaining 14.7% of the Hibbing mine. Prior to the AM USA Transaction, we owned 23% of Hibbing, ArcelorMittal USA had a 62.3% interest and U.S. Steel had a 14.7% interest. On December 9, 2020, as a result of the AM USA Transaction, we acquired an additional 62.3% ownership stake in the Hibbing mine and became the majority owner and mine manager. Each partner takes its share of production pro rata; however, provisions in the joint venture agreement allow additional or reduced production to be delivered under certain circumstances. In 2020, the Hibbing mine produced 5.5 million long tons of iron ore pellets, of which 1.6 million long tons were for our account. Hibbing owns 3% of the ore reserves and leases 97% via multiple mineral leases having varying expiration dates. Mining leases routinely are renegotiated and renewed as they approach their respective expiration dates. Hibbing operations consist of an open pit truck and shovel mine, a concentrator that utilizes single stage crushing, AG mills and magnetic separation to produce a magnetite concentrate, which is then delivered to an on-site pellet plant. From the site, pellets are transported by BNSF rail to a ship loading port at Superior, Wisconsin, operated by BNSF.
The Minorca mine is located in the center of Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range near Virginia, Minnesota. In 2020, the mine produced 2.8 million long tons of iron ore pellets, of which approximately 0.2 million long tons were produced during the period subsequent to the AM USA Transaction. We own 100% of the Minorca mine, which has been operating since 1977, and lease 100% of the mineral rights. Mining is conducted on multiple mineral leases having varying expiration dates. Mining leases routinely are renegotiated and renewed as they approach their respective expiration dates. This operation includes a concentrating and pelletizing facility, along with two open pit iron ore mines located approximately seven miles from the processing facilities. The processing operations consist of a crushing facility, a three-line concentration facility and a single-line straight grate pelletizing plant. Pellets are transported by CN rail to ports on Lake Superior and shipped to Indiana Harbor located in East Chicago, Indiana.
The Northshore mine is located in northeastern Minnesota, approximately two miles south of Babbitt, Minnesota, on the northeastern end of the Mesabi Iron Range. Northshore’s processing facilities are located in Silver Bay, Minnesota, near Lake Superior. In 2020, the Northshore mine produced 3.8 million long tons of iron ore pellets, including both standard and DR-grade pellets. We own 100% of the Northshore mine, which has been operating since 1990, and lease 100% of the mineral rights. Mining is conducted on multiple mineral leases having varying expiration dates. Mining leases routinely are renegotiated and renewed as they approach their respective expiration dates. Operations consist of an open pit truck and shovel mine where two stages of crushing occur before the ore is transported along a wholly owned 47-mile rail line to the plant site in Silver Bay. At the plant site, two additional stages of crushing occur before the ore is sent to the concentrator. The concentrator utilizes rod mills and magnetic separation to produce a magnetite concentrate, which is delivered to the pellet plant located on-site. The plant site has its own ship loading port located on Lake Superior.
The Tilden mine is located on the Marquette Iron Range in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula approximately five miles south of Ishpeming, Michigan. In 2020, the Tilden mine produced 6.3 million long tons of iron ore pellets. We own 100% of the Tilden mine, which has been operating since 1974. We own 91% and lease the remaining 9% of the ore reserves. Operations consist of an open pit truck and shovel mine, a concentrator that utilizes single stage crushing, AG mills, magnetite separation and floatation to produce hematite and magnetite concentrates that are then supplied to the on-site pellet plant. From the site, pellets are transported by our LS&I rail to a ship loading port at Marquette, Michigan, operated by LS&I.
The United Taconite mine is located on Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range in and around the city of Eveleth, Minnesota. The United Taconite concentrator and pelletizing facilities are located ten miles south of the mine, near the town of Forbes, Minnesota. In 2020, the United Taconite mine produced 5.2 million long tons of iron ore pellets. We own 100% of the United Taconite mine, which has been operating since 1965, and lease 100% of the mineral rights. Mining is conducted on multiple mineral leases having varying expiration dates. Mining leases routinely are renegotiated and renewed as they approach their respective expiration dates. United Taconite operations consist of
an open pit truck and shovel mine where two stages of crushing occur before the ore is transported by rail, operated by CN, to the plant site. At the plant site an additional stage of crushing occurs before the ore is sent to the concentrator. The concentrator utilizes rod mills and magnetic separation to produce a magnetite concentrate, which is delivered to the on-site pellet plant. From the plant site, pellets are transported by CN rail to a ship loading port at Duluth, Minnesota, operated by CN.
The Empire mine was indefinitely idled in 2016 and had an annual iron ore pellet production capability of 6 million long tons. We own 47% of the ore reserves and lease the remaining 53%.
Coal Mining and Cokemaking
Princeton is a coal mining complex located in West Virginia that specializes in surface and underground mining of metallurgical coal to produce coke and pulverized coal injection coal. We have annual rated metallurgical coal production capacity of 2.3 million net tons from our Princeton mine. In 2020, the mine produced approximately 1.6 million net tons of coal, of which approximately 0.1 million net tons were produced during the period subsequent to the AM USA Transaction. We own 100% of the Princeton mine, which has been operating since 1995. We own 52% of the coal reserves and lease 48% via multiple mineral leases having varying expiration dates. Mining leases routinely are renegotiated and renewed as they approach their respective expiration dates. Princeton's operations consist of two open-pit surface mines, two underground mines, a preparation plant and two rail loadouts.
In 2020, our cokemaking facilities produced between 2.0 million and 2.5 million net tons of coke, of which approximately 0.6 million net tons were produced during the period subsequent to the respective date of acquisition for each facility. Mountain State Carbon produces furnace coke and related by-products from its plant in Follansbee, West Virginia, which consists of four batteries. Monessen produces furnace coke and related by-products in Monessen, Pennsylvania, and is temporarily idled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Warren produces furnace coke and related by-products from its plant in Warren, Ohio, and supplies the Cleveland facility. We also operate cokemaking facilities located within Burns Harbor and Middletown Works.
Our Tubular operating segment consists of our subsidiary Tubular Components, which has plants in Walbridge, Ohio; Columbus, Indiana; and Queretaro, Mexico. The Walbridge plant operates six electric resistance welded tube mills. The Columbus plant also operates six electric resistance welded tube mills and four high-speed cold saws on leased property. The plant in Queretaro, Mexico is currently in the process of being shut down and has ceased tube production. The Queretaro plant is located on leased land in a leased building, under a lease that expires in April 2021. The high-speed cold saw that was operating at the Queretaro plant has already been relocated to the Columbus plant and the tube mill will be returned to the U.S. and replace an existing, older tube mill currently in operation.
Our Tooling and Stamping operating segment consists of our subsidiary Precision Partners, which provides advanced-engineered solutions, tool design and build, hot- and cold-stamped steel components and complex assemblies for the automotive market across ten plants, of which certain of these are under long-term lease agreements, in Ontario, Alabama and Kentucky. Its facilities feature seven large-bed, hot-stamping presses, providing 13 lines of production; 81 cold-stamping presses ranging from 150 net tons to 3,000 net tons of pressing capacity; 17 large-bed, high-tonnage tryout presses with prove-out capabilities for new tool builds; and 144 multi-axis welding assembly cells. We are also in the process of constructing a new Precision Partners facility in Tennessee. We expect to complete construction and begin production of prototype components in the third quarter of 2021, and expect to reach commercial production in the first quarter of 2022.
We have a corporate policy prescribing internal controls and procedures with respect to auditing and estimating of minerals. The procedures contained in the policy include the calculation of mineral estimates at each property by our engineers, geologists and accountants, as well as third-party consultants. Management compiles and reviews the calculations, and once finalized, such information is used to prepare the disclosures for our annual and quarterly reports. The disclosures are reviewed and approved by management, including our chief executive officer and chief financial officer. Additionally, the long-range mine planning and mineral estimates are reviewed annually by our Audit Committee. Furthermore, all changes to mineral estimates, other than those due to production, are adequately documented and submitted to senior operations officers for review and approval. Finally, periodic reviews of long-range mine plans and mineral reserve estimates are conducted at mine staff meetings, senior management meetings and by independent experts.
Reserves are defined by SEC Industry Standard Guide 7 as that part of a mineral deposit that could be economically and legally extracted and produced at the time of the reserve determination. All reserves are classified as proven or probable and are supported by life-of-mine plans.
Reserve estimates are based on pricing that does not exceed the three-year trailing average index price of iron ore and coal adjusted to realized price. We evaluate and analyze mineral reserve estimates in accordance with our mineral policy and SEC requirements. The table below identifies the year in which the latest reserve estimate was completed.
|Property||Date of Latest Economic|
|Iron ore mines:|
Ore reserve estimates for our iron ore mines were estimated from fully designed open pits developed using three-dimensional modeling techniques. These fully designed pits incorporate design slopes, practical mining shapes and access ramps to assure the accuracy of our reserve estimates. All operations' reserves have been adjusted net of production through 2020.
The following represents iron ore mineral reserves:
|Iron Ore Mineral Reserves|
|as of December 31, 2020|
|(In Millions of Long Tons)|
|Proven||Probable||Proven & Probable|
|Property||Tonnage||% Grade||Tonnage||% Grade||Tonnage|
|76 ||19.7 ||25 ||19.6 ||101 ||19.7 ||27%|
|Minorca||113 ||23.6 ||7 ||25.3 ||120 ||23.7 ||31%|
|Northshore||318 ||25.3 ||519 ||24.1 ||837 ||24.6 ||29%|
|168 ||35.2 ||418 ||34.8 ||586 ||34.8 ||34%|
|United Taconite||158 ||23.1 ||631 ||22.1 ||789 ||22.3 ||31%|
|Total||833 ||1,600 ||2,433 |
1 The Hibbing mine is reported on a 100% basis, of which, our ownership is 85.3%.
2 Tilden hematite reported grade is percent FeT; all other properties are percent magnetic iron.
3 Cutoff for Tilden hematite is 25% FeT. Cutoff grades for magnetic ore are 20% for Tilden, 19% for Northshore, 16% for Minorca, 17% for United Taconite and 15% for Hibbing.
4 Process recovery includes all factors for converting crude ore tonnage, shown above, to a dry saleable product.
The following represents recoverable coal reserves:
|Recoverable Coal Reserves|
|as of December 31, 2020|
|(In Millions of Net Tons)|
|Proven||Probable||Proven & Probable|
|Property||ROM||Wet Recovery||ROM||Wet Recovery||ROM||Wet Recovery||Ash %||Sulfur %||Volatile %|
|Princeton Coal||69.5 ||44.7 ||26.5 ||11.0 ||96.0 ||55.7 ||5%||0.7%||18%|
Legal Proceedings Relating to our Business
Mesabi Metallics Adversary Proceeding. On September 7, 2017, Mesabi Metallics Company LLC (f/k/a Essar Steel Minnesota LLC) ("Mesabi Metallics") filed a complaint against Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. in the Essar Steel Minnesota LLC and ESML Holdings Inc. bankruptcy proceeding that is pending in the United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware. Mesabi Metallics alleges tortious interference with its contractual rights and business relations involving certain vendors, suppliers and contractors, violations of federal and Minnesota antitrust laws through monopolization, attempted monopolization and restraint of trade, violation of the automatic stay, and civil conspiracy with unnamed Doe defendants. Mesabi Metallics amended its complaint to add additional defendants, including, among others, our subsidiary, Cleveland-Cliffs Minnesota Land Development Company LLC ("Cliffs Minnesota Land"), and to add additional claims, including avoidance and recovery of unauthorized post-petition transfers of real estate interests, claims disallowance, civil contempt and declaratory relief. Mesabi Metallics seeks, among other things, unspecified damages and injunctive relief. Cliffs and Cliffs Minnesota Land filed counterclaims against Mesabi Metallics, Chippewa Capital Partners ("Chippewa"), and Thomas M. Clarke ("Clarke") for tortious interference and civil conspiracy, as well as additional claims against Chippewa and Clarke for aiding and abetting tortious interference, for which we seek, among other things, damages and injunctive relief. Our counterclaim against Clarke for libel was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds. The parties filed various dispositive motions on certain of the claims, including a motion for partial summary judgment to settle a dispute over real estate transactions between Cliffs Minnesota Land and Glacier Park Iron Ore Properties LLC ("GPIOP"). A ruling in favor of Cliffs, Cliffs Minnesota Land and GPIOP was issued on July 23, 2018, finding that Mesabi Metallics' leases had terminated and upholding Cliffs' and Cliffs Minnesota Land's purchase and lease of the contested real estate interests. Mesabi Metallics filed a Motion for Leave to File an Interlocutory Appeal, which was denied on September 10, 2019. Discovery is ongoing. We believe the claims asserted against us are without merit, and we intend to continue to vigorously defend against any remaining claims in the lawsuit.
Mesabi Trust Arbitration. On December 9, 2019, Mesabi Trust filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association against Northshore and Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. alleging various breaches of a royalty agreement under which Northshore extracts iron ore from Mesabi Trust lands in return for paying royalties to Mesabi Trust. In its demand, Mesabi Trust asserts that we improperly based royalty payments for intercompany sales of DR-grade pellets on artificially low pricing of DR-grade pellet sales to one of our arms’ length third-party customers. Mesabi Trust further asserts that we paid royalties too soon on DR-grade pellets stockpiled at Northshore and destined for shipment to our Toledo direct reduction plant. The allegations also include failure to provide access to information and individuals necessary to determine compliance with the royalty agreement. In addition to seeking damages and costs, Mesabi Trust seeks declarations as to the methodology and timing for calculating royalties on our intercompany DR-grade pellet sales, and that Mesabi Trust should have full and unfettered access to all of our information and employees. During 2020, the parties appointed a three-member arbitration panel and engaged in discovery. The arbitration hearing is scheduled for May 2021. We believe the claims asserted against us are without merit, and we intend to vigorously defend against them.
Certain Legacy Legal Proceedings Relating to our Steel Operations. Certain of our acquired subsidiaries have been named as defendants, among many other named defendants, in numerous lawsuits filed since 1990 claiming injury allegedly resulting from exposure to asbestos. Similar lawsuits seeking monetary relief continue to be filed in various jurisdictions in the U.S., which cases are vigorously defended. Although predictions about the outcome of pending litigation is subject to uncertainties, based upon present knowledge, we believe it is unlikely that the resolution in the aggregate of these claims will have a materially adverse effect on our consolidated results of operations, cash flows or financial condition.
Legal Proceedings Relating to Environmental Matters
SEC regulations require us to disclose certain information about administrative or judicial proceedings involving the environment and to which a governmental authority is a party if we reasonably believe that such proceedings may result in monetary sanctions above a stated threshold. Pursuant to SEC regulations, we use a threshold of $1 million for purposes of determining whether disclosure of any such proceedings is required. We believe that this threshold is reasonably designed to result in disclosure of any such proceedings that are material to our business or financial condition. Applying this threshold, we are disclosing the following environmental proceedings for the period covered by this report:
Dearborn Works Air NOVs. On November 18, 2019, November 26, 2019, and March 16, 2020, EGLE issued NOVs with respect to the basic oxygen furnace electrostatic precipitator at Dearborn Works alleging violations of manganese, lead and opacity limits. We are investigating these claims and will work with EGLE to attempt to resolve
them. We intend to vigorously contest any claims that cannot be resolved through a settlement. Until a settlement is reached with EGLE or the claims of the NOVs are otherwise resolved, we cannot reasonably estimate the costs, if any, associated with any potentially required work.
Additional information for this item relating to certain other environmental proceedings may be found under the headings EPA Administrative Order In Re: Ashland Coke and Burns Harbor Water Issues in NOTE 21 - COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES to the consolidated financial statements in Part II – Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data, which information is incorporated herein by reference.
|Item 4.||Mine Safety Disclosures|
We are committed to protecting the occupational health and well-being of each of our employees. Safety is one of our core values, and we strive to ensure that safe production is the first priority for all employees. Our internal objective is to achieve zero injuries and incidents across the Company by focusing on proactively identifying needed prevention activities, establishing standards and evaluating performance to mitigate any potential loss to people, equipment, production and the environment. We have implemented intensive employee training that is geared toward maintaining a high level of awareness and knowledge of safety and health issues in the work environment through the development and coordination of requisite information, skills and attitudes. We believe that through these policies, we have developed an effective safety management system.
Under the Dodd-Frank Act, each operator of a coal or other mine is required to include certain mine safety results within its periodic reports filed with the SEC. As required by the reporting requirements included in §1503(a) of the Dodd-Frank Act and Item 104 of Regulation S-K, the required mine safety results regarding certain mining safety and health matters for each of our mine locations that are covered under the scope of the Dodd-Frank Act are included in Exhibit 95 of Part IV – Item 15. Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
|Item 5.||Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities|
Stock Exchange Information
Our common shares (ticker symbol CLF) are listed on the NYSE.
At February 24, 2021, we had 2,586 shareholders of record.
Shareholder Return Performance
The following graph shows changes over the past five-year period in the value of $100 invested in: (1) Cliffs' common shares; (2) S&P 500 Index; (3) S&P Small Cap 600 Index; and (4) S&P Metals and Mining Select Industry Index. The values of each investment are based on price change plus reinvestment of all dividends reported to shareholders, based on monthly granularity.
|Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.||Return %||— ||432.28||(14.27)||6.66||12.60||77.46|
|S&P 500 Index||Return %||— ||11.93||21.80||(4.39)||31.48||18.39|
|S&P Small Cap 600 Index||Return %||— ||26.46||13.15||(8.52)||22.74||11.24|
|S&P Metals and Mining Select Industry Index||Return %||— ||105.09||20.61||(26.76)||14.70||15.97|
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
The following table presents information with respect to repurchases by the Company of our common shares during the periods indicated:
ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Total Number of Shares
(or Units) Purchased1
|Average Price Paid per Share|
|Total Number of Shares (or Units) Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans or Programs||Maximum Number (or Approximate Dollar Value) of Shares (or Units) that May Yet be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs|
|October 1 - 31, 2020||2,293 ||$||6.69 ||— ||$||— |
|November 1 - 30, 2020||3,594 ||7.23 ||— ||— |
|December 1 - 31, 2020||262 ||12.88 ||— ||— |
|Total||6,149 ||$||7.27 ||— ||$||— |
1 All shares were delivered to us to satisfy tax withholding obligations due upon the vesting or payment of stock awards.
|Item 6.||Selected Financial Data|
|Item 7.||Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations|
Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations is designed to provide a reader of our financial statements with a narrative from the perspective of management on our financial condition, results of operations, liquidity and other factors that may affect our future results. The following discussion should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and related notes that appear in Part II – Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
The year 2020 represented a transformative period in our Company's 173-year history. During the year, we completed the vertical integration of our legacy iron ore pellet business with the acquisitions of steelmakers AK Steel and ArcelorMittal USA, becoming the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America. Our new unique, vertically integrated business model provides a competitive advantage over other steelmakers that procure a larger proportion of their steelmaking raw materials from external sources, and allows us to control our production from upstream mining to downstream stamping and tubing.
We believe the Acquisitions give us a leading position in the highly desirable automotive end market, where we supply best-in-class volumes, quality and delivery performance, and give us the most comprehensive flat steel product offering in the industry. Due to the much larger operational footprint we now have, we anticipate synergies of approximately $310 million from asset optimization, economies of scale and streamlining overhead, over half of which has already been set in motion.
We are now focused on maximizing the value of the iron ore pellets we produce from our legacy and recently acquired mines in Michigan and Minnesota. A majority of the pellets we produce is dedicated to internal consumption, and we do not rely on external sources of pellets. As such, our new Steelmaking segment captures effectively all of the production activity in the steelmaking process, which begins at our mines.
In 2020, we also completed construction of and began production at our state-of-the-art direct reduction plant in Toledo, Ohio. This facility produces high-quality HBI, and is the first of its kind in the Great Lakes region. Our HBI provides a high-quality and environmentally friendly alternative to the scrap and imported pig iron that our potential customers currently utilize. We expect to begin selling this product to third parties during the first quarter of 2021 and reach nameplate capacity at our direct reduction plant during the second quarter of 2021.
Along with these notable accomplishments, we have been able to successfully navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic while preserving the health and safety of both our workforce and our Company for the long term. The COVID-19 pandemic caused its fair share of challenges, as disruptions in demand led to lower sales output and necessitated the unplanned idling of certain production facilities. These production outages, along with the lower
demand and lower prices that came as a result of the pandemic, generated weaker results during the year than what we would normally expect.
As the demand environment began to recover, our results in the second half of the year improved dramatically and operations at temporarily idled facilities resumed. Now, with steel prices and scrap prices in the U.S. recently reaching all-time highs, we believe our decisive actions and accomplishments during 2020 will allow us to deliver strong financial results and free cash flow in 2021. We also believe our new vertically integrated business model is well-equipped to navigate and succeed through future pricing or demand volatility that is common in our industry.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, we also continued our best practices from both a safety and environmental standpoint. During 2020, our safety TRIR (including contractors) was 0.92 per 200,000 hours worked. On environmental matters, we recently made a commitment to reduce GHG emissions 25% by 2030 from 2017 levels, a higher reduction target than our competitors and a demonstration of the newfound leadership role we plan to take in the domestic steel industry.
Acquisition of ArcelorMittal USA
On December 9, 2020, pursuant to the terms of the AM USA Transaction Agreement, we purchased ArcelorMittal USA from ArcelorMittal. In connection with the closing of the AM USA Transaction, as contemplated by the terms of the AM USA Transaction Agreement, ArcelorMittal’s former joint venture partner in Kote and Tek exercised its put right pursuant to the terms of the Kote and Tek joint venture agreements. As a result, we purchased all of such joint venture partner’s interests in Kote and Tek. Following the closing of the AM USA Transaction, we own 100% of the interests in Kote and Tek.
The assets of ArcelorMittal USA acquired by us at the closing of the AM USA Transaction include six steelmaking facilities, eight finishing facilities, three cokemaking operations, two iron ore mining and pelletizing operations and one coal mining complex. Refer to NOTE 3 - ACQUISITIONS for additional information.
On December 9, 2020, we entered into the ABL Amendment. The ABL Amendment modified the ABL Facility to, among other things, increase the amount of tranche A revolver commitments available thereunder by an additional $1.5 billion and increase certain dollar baskets related to certain negative covenants that apply to the ABL Facility. After giving effect to the ABL Amendment, the aggregate principal amount of tranche A revolver commitments under the ABL Facility is $3.35 billion and the aggregate principal amount of tranche B revolver commitments under the ABL Facility remains at $150 million.
On February 11, 2021, we sold 20 million of our common shares, and the indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of ArcelorMittal to which approximately 78 million common shares were issued as part of the consideration paid by us in connection with the closing of the AM USA Transaction sold 40 million common shares, in each case at a price per share to the underwriter of $16.12, in an underwritten public offering. We also granted the underwriter an option to purchase up to an additional 9 million common shares from us at a price per share to the underwriter of $16.12. The underwriter has until March 10, 2021 to exercise such option, which it may do in full, in part or not at all. We did not receive any proceeds from the sale of the common shares by the selling shareholder in the offering. We intend to use the net proceeds to us from the offering, plus cash on hand, to redeem up to approximately $334 million aggregate principal amount of our outstanding 9.875% 2025 Senior Secured Notes. We intend to use any remaining net proceeds to us following such redemption to reduce borrowings under our ABL Facility.
On February 17, 2021, we issued $500 million aggregate principal amount of 4.625% 2029 Senior Notes and $500 million aggregate principal amount of 4.875% 2031 Senior Notes in an offering that was exempt from the registration requirements of the Securities Act. We intend to use the net proceeds from the notes offering to redeem all of the outstanding 4.875% 2024 Senior Secured Notes and 6.375% 2025 Senior Notes issued by Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. and all of the outstanding 7.625% 2021 AK Senior Notes, 7.50% 2023 AK Senior Notes and 6.375% 2025 AK Senior Notes issued by AK Steel Corporation (n/k/a Cleveland-Cliffs Steel Corporation), and pay fees and expenses in connection with such redemptions, and reduce borrowings under our ABL Facility.
We have updated our segment structure to coincide with our new business model and are organized into four operating segments based on differentiated products, Steelmaking, Tubular, Tooling and Stamping, and European Operations. Our previous Mining and Pelletizing segment is included within Steelmaking as iron ore pellets are a