The volume of shipments of iron ore pellets by Northshore varies from quarter to quarter and year to year based on a number of factors, including the requested delivery schedules of customers, general economic conditions in the iron ore industry, and weather conditions on the Great Lakes. Further, the prices under the term contracts between Northshore, Northshore’s parent Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (“Cliffs”) and certain of their customers (the “Cliffs Pellet Agreements”) are subject to interim and final pricing adjustments, dependent in part on multiple price and inflation index factors that are not known until after the end of a contract year. This can result in significant variations in royalties received by Mesabi Trust (and in turn the resulting amount available for distribution to Unitholders by Mesabi Trust) from quarter to quarter and on a comparative historical basis. These variations, which can be positive or negative, cannot be predicted by the Trustees of Mesabi Trust. Royalty payments received in 2011 and prior years continue to reflect pricing estimates for shipments of iron ore products that may be subject to further adjustment (upward or downward) pursuant to the Cliffs Pellet Agreements. Based on all of the above factors and as indicated by the Trust’s history of distribution payments, the royalties received by the Trust, and the distributions paid to Unitholders, in any particular quarter or year are not necessarily indicative of royalties that will be received, or distributions that will be paid, in any subsequent quarter or for a full year.
With respect to calendar year 2012, Northshore has not advised Mesabi Trust of its expected 2012 shipments of iron ore products or what percentage of 2012 shipments will be from Mesabi Trust iron ore. Cliffs has not provided Mesabi Trust with any projections about possible pricing (and resulting royalty) adjustments that might impact future distributions, although Cliffs did indicate that the royalty payments being reported today are based on estimated iron ore pellet prices under the Cliffs Pellet Agreements, which are subject to change. It is possible that future negative price adjustments could offset, or even eliminate, royalties or royalty income that would otherwise be payable to Mesabi Trust in any particular quarter, or at year end, thereby potentially reducing cash available for distributions to Mesabi Trust’s Unitholders in future quarters.