Cliffs Natural Resources reported U.S. iron ore (USIO) pellet sales for the first quarter of 2017 of 3.1 million long tons, a 63% increase compared to the first quarter of 2016. “During the first quarter, we put our finishing touches on what has been a remarkable operational, commercial and financial transformation of this company,” Lourenco Goncalves, chairman, president and CEO, said. “We expect 2017 to be a phenomenal year of EBITDA and free cash flow generation.”

The cash costs for USIO was $58.57/long ton, a 7% decrease from $62.88/long ton for the same period last year. The company attributed the decrease to having no idled active mines during the first quarter of 2017, compared to having two idled mines during the same period last year.

First-quarter 2017 Asia Pacific iron ore (APIO) sales volume increased 9% to 3.0 million metric tons (mt), from 2.8 million mt in the first quarter of 2016. The company said the volume increase was primarily related to the timing of shipments. Revenues hit $54.35/mt, an increase of 32% over the same period last year, driven by improved seaborne market prices.

Cliffs reported it expects to produce more than 33 million tons of iron ore in 2017.