Joseph Carrabba, president, CEO and chairman, Cliffs Natural Resources, announced his plans to retire by December 31. James Kirsch, who currently serves on Cliffs’ board as lead director, has been elected non-executive chairman, effectively immediately. Carrabba will continue to serve as president and CEO and a director of the company until a successor has been elected.

“It has been a privilege to lead this great company over the last eight years,” Carrabba said. “I am proud of the global operational footprint we have established and believe now is the right time to begin this leadership transition.”

In related news, Laurie Brlas has also retired as executive vice president and president, global operations, and is leaving the company, effective immediately.

Cliffs’ board has retained executive search firm, Heidrick & Struggles, to help identify candidates to lead the company.