Revenue was down 18% over the previous year as a significant decrease in the market price for iron ore and metallurgical coal affected results. In addition to that, Cliffs Natural Resources reported that global iron ore sales volumes fell 2% as winter weather affected results. According to a quote from CEO Gary Halverson in the company's press release, "the first-quarter's winter weather in North America was some of the worst conditions we have experienced in 30 years."
Despite these negatives Cliffs Natural Resources did have some positives to report in the quarter. The company delivered record first-quarter production of 1.5 million tons at Bloom Lake, in spite of the rough winter weather. In addition to that the company has improved its liquidity by 32% over the past year to $1.9 billion, this is despite the weakness in both the iron ore and metallurgical coal markets.
Further, Cliffs Natural Resources is maintaining its full-year volume and cost outlook. The company sees the first-quarter weather impacts on volume being something that will be recovered later on in the year. This is because the company sees demand strengthening as an improving U.S. economy will yield healthy demand for iron ore. Continued economic expansion in China should also result in increased Chinese steel production, which will result in more steelmaking raw materials being imported into the country.
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