CLEVELAND, July 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE: CLF) (Paris: CLF) today announced that Joseph Carrabba has informed the Board of Directors of his plans to retire as the Company's president and chief executive officer by Dec. 31, 2013. James Kirsch, who currently serves on Cliffs' Board as lead director, has been elected non-executive chairman of the Board, effectively immediately, replacing Mr. Carrabba as chairman. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20101104/CLIFFSLOGO ) Mr. Carrabba will continue to serve as president and CEO and a Director of the Company until a successor has been elected, after which point he will also step down from the Board. Cliffs' Board has retained an executive search firm, Heidrick & Struggles, to help identify candidates to lead the Company. To facilitate the transition, Cliffs has formed an Office of the Chairman, led by Mr. Kirsch. The Company also announced today that Laurie Brlas has retired as executive vice president and president, global operations and is leaving the Company, effective immediately. Mr. Carrabba said, "It has been a privilege to lead this great Company over the last eight years. I am proud of the global operational footprint we have established and believe now is the right time to begin this leadership transition. I look forward to working with the Office of the Chairman during this period as we continue to provide world-class iron ore and coal products to the world's largest steel markets." Mr. Carrabba added, "We thank Laurie for her service over the past seven years as chief financial officer and most recently as executive vice president and president, global operations. We wish her well in her future endeavors." Mr. Kirsch said, "We are fortunate to have a strong executive team in place with a deep bench of leadership talent to aid in a seamless transition. On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I want to thank Joe for his dedication to Cliffs over the last eight years. We greatly appreciate his contributions and look forward to his continued leadership during the transition period ahead."