With respect to calendar year 2013, Northshore has not advised Mesabi Trust of its expected 2013 shipments of iron ore products or what percentage of 2013 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.
As previously announced, on November 19, 2012, Cliffs has idled two of the four production lines at its wholly-owned subsidiary, Northshore. Cliffs explained that its curtailment was intended to adjust its 2013 operating plans for its North American iron ore businesses to align with expected sales volumes. Cliffs noted that the “production decreases are driven by increased iron ore pricing volatility and lower North American steelmaking utilization rates.” Cliffs previous announcement did not indicate the anticipated impact of the curtailment on total production or shipments at Northshore during calendar 2012 or calendar 2013, stating only that “full-year 2013 expected sales volumes for U.S. Iron Ore remain unchanged at 19 to 20 million tons as previously disclosed by Cliffs.” The Trustees believe that the production curtailment at Northshore and the lay-off of 125 employees will have a negative impact on production attributable to Mesabi Trust in 2013. If the production curtailment continues for a substantial portion of calendar year 2013, the Trustees believe that the total shipments from Northshore, and the resulting royalties payable to the Trust, could be lower than calendar year 2012.