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      Down time expected at Empire Mine in 2012

      Cliffs Natural Resources announced Monday that they will curtail operation during 2012 at the Empire Mine in Marquette County.

      According to a press release from the company the Empire Mine will only produce half of its previously anticipated ore for 2012. The cause of the cut-back is due to a customer's shut-down of a blast furnace during 2012. The company projects 2.7 million tons of ore just over half of the 4.6 million tons produced in 2011.

      According to Cliffs, 600 workers will be affected at the Empire in the second quarter due to this customer's maintenance procedure.

      This curtailment is not expected to impact the company TMs previously announced sales and production volumes in its U.S. Iron Ore business segment.

      Cliffs also indicated that 2012 production volumes within the company's other four U.S. Iron Ore mines will not be impacted by the customer's planned blast furnace maintenance outage in 2012.

      Production volumes are subject to change throughout the year based on their customer demand. In addition, Cliffs is maintaining its full-year 2012 expected sales and production volumes of 23 million tons for its U.S. Iron Ore business segment.