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UPDATE 1-Cliffs Natural names next chief executive

Friday, 25 Oct 2013 | 8:58 AM ET

Oct 25 (Reuters) - Cliffs Natural Resources Inc, one of North America's biggest iron ore producers, on Friday said it has chosen former Barrick Gold Corp executive Gary Halverson as its next chief executive.

The miner said Halverson will become president and chief operating officer effective Nov. 18, reporting to the company's executive chairman. All Cliffs executives will report to Halverson, but he will not become CEO right away.

"This will provide Mr. Halverson the opportunity to build a deep understanding of the business at an operating level before assuming the CEO leadership position," the company said in a statement.

Non-executive chairman James Kirsch, who will be executive chairman effective Nov. 18, has been helping with the transition, the company said.

"Over the coming months, his focus will be to refine the company's long-term strategy and continue to provide continuity during the leadership transition," it said.

Cliffs said in July that Chief Executive Joseph Carrabba would retire by the end of the year, and on Friday it said he will step down effective Nov. 15.

Cleveland-based Cliffs, which also produces coal, reported a rise in third-quarter earnings on Thursday as cost cuts paid off and iron ore prices jumped.

But like others in its industry, Cliffs has had a tough year. Weak iron ore prices have weighed on earnings, and operational issues have plagued its Bloom Lake Mine in Quebec.

In January the company announced a $1 billion goodwill writedown related to its acquisition of Consolidated Thompson Iron Mines, which included Bloom Lake, and soon after it slashed its dividend by 76 percent.

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