UPDATE 1-Miner Cliffs profit rises on cost cuts, better prices

Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:27pm EDT

Oct 24 (Reuters) - Cliffs Natural Resources Inc reported an increase in third quarter profit on Thursday as the miner reduced costs and iron ore prices rose.

The Cleveland-based company, which supplies steelmakers around the world, said it expects China's steel production to "remain a source of healthy demand."

"Looking forward, the company expects China to maintain its healthy steelmaking pace, driven by broader economic growth and the positive impact of domestic lending policy reforms," it said in a statement.

Miners have been pushing to cut costs in a tough market. Cliffs has cut spending on exploration, and suspended most work on its Black Thor chromite project in Canada.

Cliffs said its cost of goods sold fell 11 percent in the quarter, as expenses eased across its business segments. Benchmark iron ore prices jumped 17 percent.

In the Asia-Pacific segment, revenue per tonne rose 28 percent to $108.88, thanks to improved market prices and higher-grade ore.

Gains were partly offset by Cliffs' small coal business, hurt by lower prices and weather damage that cut production.

Net income attributable to common shareholders rose to $104.3 million, or 66 cents a share, from $85.1 million, or 59 cents, a year earlier. Revenue rose slightly to $1.55 billion from $1.54 billion.

Shares of Cliffs rose 3.1 percent to $24.30 in aftermarket trading.

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