Cliffs Natural Resources will sell its 45% economic interest in the Sonoma coal mine and prep plant, located in Queensland, Australia, to QCoal Sonoma Pty Ltd. for A$141 million in cash. The assets to be sold include Cliffs’ interests in the Sonoma mine along with its ownership of the affiliated wash plant. The transaction should close during the fourth quarter of 2012.

“This transaction reinforces our strategy to direct management and capital resources toward long-lived expandable assets where Cliffs has operational control,” said Joe Carrabba, Cliffs’ chairman, president and CEO. Cliffs purchased its 45% economic interest in Sonoma in 2007. The mine’s 2011 production and sales volumes totaled 3.5 million metric tons and 3.1 million metric tons of coal, respectively. The product mix was approximately two-thirds thermal coal and one-third metallurgical coal. The existing mine manager, Sonoma Mine Management, will continue to be responsible for overseeing the operation with no disruptions.

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