The Trustees of Mesabi Trust (NYSE: MSB) declared a distribution of sixty cents ($0.60) per Unit of Beneficial Interest payable on August 20, 2011 to Mesabi Trust unitholders of record at the close of business on July 30, 2011. This compares to a distribution of eighty cents ($0.80) per Unit for the same period last year. The decrease in the current distribution of twenty cents ($0.20) per Unit, as compared to the same quarter last year, is mostly attributable to decreases in the volume of shipments of iron ore pellets, partially offset by an increase in the average sales price per ton of iron ore pellets. The base and bonus royalties payable to Mesabi Trust (before the application of pricing adjustments by Northshore) decreased from approximately $10.9 million in the second calendar quarter of 2010 to approximately $7.9 million for the second calendar quarter of 2011, a decrease of approximately 27.5%. Based on the shipments of iron ore pellets during the first calendar quarter of 2011 reported by Northshore, Mesabi Trust expects to be credited with a base royalty of $3,965,498 (based on credited shipments of 1,532,046 tons of iron ore mined from Mesabi Trust lands as described further below). Mesabi Trust also expects to be credited with a bonus royalty in the amount of $3,931,531 based on the average sales price per ton of iron ore pellets and the volume of shipments during the second calendar quarter of 2011. In addition to the base and bonus royalty payments, Mesabi Trust is also expecting to receive $67,549 as a result of positive pricing adjustments to shipments and royalty payments made in the first calendar quarter of 2011. Accordingly, the total royalty payment expected to be received on July 29, 2011 by Mesabi Trust from Northshore is $8,165,125 (which includes a royalty payment of $200,546 payable to the Mesabi Land Trust).
The royalties paid to Mesabi Trust are based on the volume of shipments of iron ore pellets for the particular quarter and the year to date, the pricing of iron ore product sales, and the percentage of iron ore pellet shipments from Mesabi Trust lands rather than from non-Trust lands. In the second calendar quarter of 2011, Northshore credited Mesabi Trust with 1,532,046 tons of iron ore, as compared to 2,189,889 tons shipped from Mesabi Trust lands during the second calendar quarter of 2010. Although Mesabi Trust was credited with shipments of 1,532,046 tons of iron ore during the second calendar quarter of 2011 because it is entitled to payment on at least 90% of the first four million tons of pellets shipped from Silver Bay, MN by Northshore in each calendar year, actual shipments of iron ore products shipped from Mesabi Trust lands in the second calendar quarter of 2011 were 1,388,359 tons. The volume of shipments of iron ore pellets (and other iron ore products) 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 determined under 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 historical distribution payments, the royalties received by the Trust, and the distributions paid to Unitholders, in any particular quarter 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 2011, Northshore has not advised Mesabi Trust of its expected 2011 shipments of iron ore products or what percentage of 2011 shipments will be from Mesabi Trust lands. 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 distribution to Mesabi Trust’s Unitholders in future quarters. In addition, because the Cliffs Pellet Agreements contain various pricing formulas and price adjustment provisions, the average sales prices received by Mesabi Trust may not match international iron ore pellet prices .This press release contains certain forward-looking statements with respect to iron ore pellet production, iron ore pricing and adjustments to pricing, shipments by Northshore in 2011, royalty (including bonus royalty) amounts, and other matters, which statements are intended to be made under the safe harbor protections of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended. Actual production, prices, price adjustments, and shipments of iron ore pellets, as well as actual royalty payments (including bonus royalties) could differ materially from current expectations due to inherent risks such as general and industry economic trends, uncertainties arising from war, terrorist events and other global events, higher or lower customer demand for steel and iron ore, environmental compliance uncertainties, higher imports of steel and iron ore substitutes, processing difficulties, consolidation and restructuring in the domestic steel market, indexing features in Cliffs Pellet Agreements resulting in adjustments to royalties payable to Mesabi Trust and other factors. Further, substantial portions of royalties earned by Mesabi Trust are based on estimated prices that are subject to interim and final adjustments, which can be positive or negative, and are dependent in part on multiple price and inflation index factors under agreements to which Mesabi Trust is not a party and that are not known until after the end of a contract year. Although the Mesabi Trustees believe that any such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such statements are subject to risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ materially. Additional information concerning these and other risks and uncertainties is contained in the Trust’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K. Mesabi Trust undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any of the forward-looking statements that may be in this press release.