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Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (CLF - Analyst Report) announced that its president and chief executive officer (CEO) Joseph Carrabba will be retiring from his post by Dec 31, 2013. Carrabba, however, will continue to serve as president and CEO and a director of the company until a successor is elected. Cliffs also announced the retirement of Laurie Brlas as president of global operations, effective immediately.

Carrabba has served Cliffs for the past eight years while Laurie Brlas has served the company for the last seven years as chief financial officer, and most recently, as executive vice president and president, global operations.

Cliffs has named James Kirsch its non-executive chairman, effective immediately. He had been the company's lead director. Cliffs' Board has retained an executive search firm, Heidrick & Struggles, which enables it to find candidates to lead the company.

Cliffs is an international mining and natural resources company and a major global iron ore producer. The company posted adjusted earnings of 60 cents per share in the first quarter of 2013, down 29.4% from 85 cents earned in the year-ago quarter but ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 32 cents.  The adjusted earnings exclude a tax benefit of 6 cents per share.

On a reported basis, Cliffs’ earnings were 66 cents per share compared with $2.63 reported in the year-ago quarter. Weak iron ore pricing coupled with lower volume hurt Cliffs’ earnings in the quarter.

Sales for the quarter came in at $1,140.5 million, down roughly 5.9% from $1,212.4 million in the prior-year quarter and also missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,226 million. Decline in global iron ore sales volumes led to reduced sales in the quarter.

Cliffs is slated to report its  second quarter results after the closing bell on Jul 25. Cliffs currently retains a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

Other companies in the mining industry worth considering are Alderon Iron Ore Corp. (AXX - Snapshot Report), NovaGold Resources Inc. (NG - Snapshot Report) and Lake Shore Gold Corp. (LSG). While Alderon carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), both NovaGold and Lake Shore Gold hold a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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