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Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (CLF - Analyst Report) has announced that its North American Coal operations have received ISO 14001 certification. The achievement testifies the company’s good environmental practices and its endeavor to bring continuous improvement. This honor also represents Cliffs’ commitment to responsible, safe and sustainable coal operations.

ISO 14001 is the International Standard for Environmental Management Systems (EMS). It is the principal management system standard, which specifies the requirements for the formulation and maintenance of an EMS.

There are three fundamental commitments required in an environmental policy that meets the requirements of ISO 14001. These are prevention of pollution, compliance with legislation and continual improvement of the EMS. These commitments help drive improvements in overall environmental performance.

Cliffs’ subsidiaries Pinnacle Mining Company and Cliffs Logan County Coal in West Virginia have also received EMS certification. Oak Grove Resources, located near Birmingham, Ala., was recommended for ISO 14001 certification.

Cliffs is slated to release its fourth-quarter 2012 results after the closing bell on Feb 12. It expects to incur a $1 billion charge in the quarter related to the acquisition of Consolidated Thompson Iron Mines Ltd. It will be recorded as a goodwill impairment charge and as a non-cash expense for the year ended Dec 31, 2012.

Cliffs expects to incur the charge due to the project’s lower long-term volumes and higher capital and operating costs. Delay in the Phase II expansion of the Bloom Lake mine also led to the impairment. Cliffs also expects to incur $100 million to $150 million in other charges related to its Eastern Canadian iron ore business.

Cliffs’ currently retains a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Other companies in the iron mining industry having a favorable Zacks Rank are Kumba Iron Ore Ltd. (KIROY), MMX Mineracao E Metalicos SA and Vale S.A. (VALE - Analyst Report). While Kumba Iron Ore carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), MMX Mineracao and Vale hold a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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