Iron ore battles – ArcelorMittal US Steel and Cleveland-Cliffs fight over Wabush

ArcelorMittal has commenced a legal action in the Ontario Superior Court to require US Steel Canada and Cleveland-Cliffs to respect what it describes as “their commitment and comply with the sale of their respective interests in the Wabush Mines Joint Venture to ArcelorMittal Dofasco.” US Steel Canada, a foreign subsidiary of US Steel Corp holds 44.6%, Cleveland-Cliffs holds a 26.8% interest and Dofasco holds a 28.6% interest in the Wabush Mines Joint Venture.

ArcelorMittal claims US Steel Canada and Cleveland-Cliffs agreed to sell their interests in the Wabush Mines to ArcelorMittal Dofasco in accordance with the terms of an agreement made last August. “Everyone fully understood the terms of this agreement. Our decision to pursue legal action is done in an effort to expedite the closure of the sale, and provide some much needed certainty for the employees at Wabush as well as the community and government stakeholders”, said ArcelorMittal Dofasco President Juergen Schachler.

However, Cleveland-Cliffs and US Steel Canada issued press releases on March 4, “dismissing their binding legal obligations with respect to the sale,” as ArcelorMittal puts it.

Cleveland-Cliffs’ statement says “it has terminated negotiations to sell its 26.8% interest in the Wabush Mines. The company entered into discussions with Dofasco in September 2007 and until today negotiations had been ongoing.”

“Cliffs believes that terminating negotiations and remaining a partner in the Wabush Mines is the best course of action for all stakeholders at the current time,” said Donald J. Gallagher, President of Cliffs’ North American Business Unit.  

Wabush, located in Canada, has been operating since 1965. It produced 4.6 Mt of iron ore pellets in 2007, and includes Scully iron ore mine near Wabush, Newfoundland, Labrador; the pellet plant and port facilities at Pointe Noire, Quebec; and integrated rail facilities and other assets.