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Company > Cleveland-Cliffs: Business Model, SWOT Analysis, and Competitors 2023

Cleveland-Cliffs: Business Model, SWOT Analysis, and Competitors 2023

Published: Jul 04, 2023

Inside This Article


    In this blog article, we will delve into an in-depth analysis of Cleveland-Cliffs' business model, conduct a SWOT analysis, and identify its key competitors as we look ahead to 2023. Cleveland-Cliffs, a leading mining and natural resources company, has established itself as a key player in the industry. By examining its business model and understanding its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, we can gain valuable insights into its future prospects and the competitive landscape it operates in. So, let's dive in and explore the fascinating world of Cleveland-Cliffs!

    What You Will Learn:

    • Who owns Cleveland-Cliffs and the significance of their ownership in the company.
    • The mission statement of Cleveland-Cliffs and its core values and objectives.
    • How Cleveland-Cliffs generates revenue and the key factors that contribute to its profitability.
    • An in-depth understanding of Cleveland-Cliffs' business model canvas and how it operates.
    • The main competitors of Cleveland-Cliffs and their impact on the company's market position.
    • A comprehensive SWOT analysis of Cleveland-Cliffs, assessing its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

    Who owns Cleveland-Cliffs?

    Major Shareholders of Cleveland-Cliffs

    Cleveland-Cliffs, a leading mining and natural resources company, is owned by a diverse group of shareholders. These shareholders are comprised of institutional investors, individual investors, and company insiders. Let's take a closer look at some of the major shareholders of Cleveland-Cliffs.

    Institutional Investors

    Institutional investors play a significant role in owning shares of Cleveland-Cliffs. These are typically large financial institutions, such as mutual funds, pension funds, and insurance companies, that manage substantial amounts of capital on behalf of their clients. Some prominent institutional investors holding significant stakes in Cleveland-Cliffs include:

    1. BlackRock Inc.: As one of the world's largest asset management firms, BlackRock holds a considerable ownership stake in Cleveland-Cliffs. Through its various funds and accounts, BlackRock has been a consistent investor in the company.

    2. The Vanguard Group: Another major institutional investor, The Vanguard Group, owns a significant portion of Cleveland-Cliffs. Known for its low-cost index funds and long-term investment strategies, Vanguard's ownership in the company reflects its commitment to diversified holdings.

    3. State Street Corporation: State Street Corporation, a leading provider of financial services, also holds a substantial stake in Cleveland-Cliffs. With its focus on asset management and custodial banking services, State Street's ownership is indicative of its confidence in the company's prospects.

    Individual Investors

    Individual investors, including retail investors and high-net-worth individuals, also contribute to the ownership of Cleveland-Cliffs. These investors often purchase shares of the company through brokerage accounts or investment platforms. While their ownership stakes may be smaller in comparison to institutional investors, their collective impact on the company's ownership structure should not be underestimated.

    Company Insiders

    Company insiders, such as executives, directors, and employees, also hold ownership stakes in Cleveland-Cliffs. These individuals often acquire shares through various compensation programs, such as stock options and restricted stock units. Their ownership aligns their interests with those of other shareholders, fostering a sense of commitment and dedication to the company's success.

    It's important to note that the ownership structure of Cleveland-Cliffs can change over time as investors buy or sell shares. Therefore, it's advisable to refer to the latest filings and reports from regulatory bodies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), for the most up-to-date information on the company's ownership.

    What is the mission statement of Cleveland-Cliffs?

    Cleveland-Cliffs' Mission Statement

    Cleveland-Cliffs, a leading iron ore mining company, is guided by a clear and concise mission statement that outlines its purpose and goals. The mission statement of Cleveland-Cliffs can be summarized as follows:

    To be the premier supplier of sustainable iron ore products to the North American steel industry, while also ensuring the well-being of our employees, communities, and stakeholders.

    This mission statement reflects the company's commitment to not only provide high-quality iron ore products but also to do so in a sustainable manner. Cleveland-Cliffs recognizes the importance of protecting the environment and ensuring the long-term viability of the steel industry, which heavily relies on iron ore.

    By positioning itself as the premier supplier, Cleveland-Cliffs aims to be the preferred choice for North American steel manufacturers. The company strives to maintain a strong and reliable supply chain, delivering iron ore products that meet the highest standards of quality and consistency.

    However, Cleveland-Cliffs' mission statement goes beyond its business objectives. The company places great importance on the well-being of its employees, communities, and stakeholders. It recognizes that success is not solely measured by financial performance, but also by the positive impact it has on its people and the areas in which it operates.

    Cleveland-Cliffs is committed to providing a safe and supportive work environment for its employees, fostering a culture of respect, diversity, and inclusion. The company also actively engages with the communities in which it operates, seeking to contribute to their development and well-being through various initiatives and partnerships.

    Moreover, Cleveland-Cliffs recognizes the significance of its stakeholders, including shareholders, customers, suppliers, and regulatory authorities. The company is dedicated to building strong relationships with these stakeholders, ensuring open communication, transparency, and mutual value creation.

    In summary, Cleveland-Cliffs' mission statement encompasses its commitment to being the leading supplier of sustainable iron ore products while prioritizing the well-being of its employees, communities, and stakeholders. By adhering to this mission, Cleveland-Cliffs aims to drive growth, promote sustainability, and make a positive impact on the steel industry and the wider society it serves.

    How does Cleveland-Cliffs make money?

    Iron ore mining and production

    One of the primary ways Cleveland-Cliffs makes money is through iron ore mining and production. The company operates several mines in the United States and Canada, extracting iron ore from the earth. Iron ore is a crucial raw material used in the production of steel, making it an essential commodity for various industries.

    Cleveland-Cliffs' mining operations involve extracting iron ore from open-pit mines or underground mines, depending on the location and geology of the deposit. The extracted iron ore is then processed and refined to remove impurities, resulting in high-quality iron ore pellets.

    These iron ore pellets are in high demand by steel manufacturers due to their consistent quality and chemical composition. Cleveland-Cliffs sells these pellets to customers primarily in North America, who use them as a key ingredient in steel production. The demand for iron ore pellets is influenced by factors such as global steel consumption, infrastructure development, and economic growth.

    Steelmaking and steel products

    In addition to iron ore mining, Cleveland-Cliffs also generates revenue through its involvement in steelmaking and steel products. The company owns and operates steel mills, which produce various steel products for different industries.

    Cleveland-Cliffs' steel mills utilize the iron ore pellets produced from its mining operations as the primary raw material. The pellets are melted in blast furnaces along with other ingredients, such as scrap metal and fluxes, to produce molten iron. This molten iron is then further processed through various refining techniques to obtain different types of steel.

    The steel products manufactured by Cleveland-Cliffs include flat-rolled steel, which is used in industries like automotive, construction, and appliances. The company also produces specialized steel products tailored to specific customer requirements, such as high-strength steel for the automotive industry or electrical steel for transformers.

    Cleveland-Cliffs sells its steel products to customers across North America, including steel service centers, distributors, and end-users. The revenue generated from steel sales is influenced by factors such as industrial demand, construction activity, and the overall health of the economy.

    Value-added services and innovation

    Beyond iron ore mining and steelmaking, Cleveland-Cliffs also offers value-added services and innovation to its customers. The company continuously invests in research and development to improve its products and manufacturing processes, providing innovative solutions to meet evolving industry needs.

    Cleveland-Cliffs collaborates with customers to develop customized steel products and solutions that address specific application requirements. This approach allows the company to differentiate itself in the market and capture additional value through premium pricing.

    Moreover, the company offers value-added services such as logistics and transportation solutions, including rail and vessel transportation, to ensure efficient delivery of its products to customers. These services add convenience and reliability for customers, further enhancing Cleveland-Cliffs' revenue streams.

    By diversifying its operations, offering innovative solutions, and providing value-added services, Cleveland-Cliffs not only generates revenue from its core mining and steelmaking activities but also establishes long-term relationships with customers, fostering loyalty and sustainability in its business model.

    Cleveland-Cliffs Business Model Canvas Explained


    The business model canvas is a strategic management tool that helps organizations understand and analyze their business models. In this section, we will delve into the Cleveland-Cliffs business model canvas and provide a comprehensive explanation of each component.

    Key Partnerships

    Cleveland-Cliffs, a leading iron ore mining company, has developed strong partnerships with various stakeholders in order to drive its business model. These key partnerships include collaborations with mining equipment manufacturers, logistics companies, and steel producers. By forging alliances with these partners, Cleveland-Cliffs ensures a steady supply of mining equipment, efficient transportation of iron ore, and a reliable market for its products.

    Key Activities

    The key activities of Cleveland-Cliffs revolve around iron ore extraction, processing, and distribution. The company operates multiple mines across North America and employs advanced mining techniques to extract iron ore efficiently. Once the ore is extracted, Cleveland-Cliffs processes it into high-quality iron ore pellets that meet the specifications of steel producers. The company also focuses on logistics management to ensure the timely delivery of its products to customers.

    Key Resources

    Cleveland-Cliffs relies on a range of key resources to support its business model. These resources include high-quality iron ore reserves, state-of-the-art mining equipment, skilled workforce, and strong relationships with suppliers. The company's access to abundant iron ore reserves is a crucial resource that enables it to maintain a consistent supply of raw material. Additionally, Cleveland-Cliffs invests in technological advancements and employee training to optimize its mining operations and ensure operational excellence.

    Value Proposition

    Cleveland-Cliffs' value proposition lies in its ability to provide high-quality iron ore products that meet the specific requirements of steel producers. The company's commitment to consistent quality, reliable supply, and competitive pricing has made it a preferred supplier in the industry. Cleveland-Cliffs also differentiates itself by emphasizing sustainability and environmental stewardship in its operations, which appeals to customers seeking environmentally responsible partners.

    Customer Segments

    Cleveland-Cliffs primarily serves steel producers and other companies in the manufacturing sector that rely on iron ore as a raw material. The company's diverse customer base includes both domestic and international clients. By understanding the unique needs of each customer segment, Cleveland-Cliffs can tailor its products and services to meet their specific requirements, thereby fostering long-term partnerships.


    Cleveland-Cliffs utilizes various channels to reach its customers and deliver its iron ore products. These channels include direct sales teams, online platforms, and partnerships with logistics companies. The company's direct sales teams maintain close relationships with customers, providing personalized support and addressing any concerns. Online platforms enable easy access to product information and streamline the ordering process. Collaboration with logistics companies ensures efficient transportation and timely delivery of iron ore to customers.

    Cost Structure

    Cleveland-Cliffs' cost structure is primarily influenced by mining operations, processing facilities, labor costs, and logistics expenses. The company invests significantly in mining equipment and machinery to optimize productivity and minimize operational costs. Processing facilities and labor costs are essential for transforming raw iron ore into high-quality pellets. Lastly, logistics expenses encompass transportation, warehousing, and distribution costs.

    Revenue Streams

    Cleveland-Cliffs generates revenue through the sale of its iron ore products to steel producers and manufacturers. The company's pricing strategy is based on market demand, quality differentials, and long-term supply contracts. By maintaining a diverse customer base and ensuring product quality, Cleveland-Cliffs secures a stable revenue stream that supports its ongoing operations and growth initiatives.


    The Cleveland-Cliffs business model canvas provides a clear overview of how the company operates and creates value. By focusing on key partnerships, activities, resources, and customer segments, Cleveland-Cliffs has established itself as a leading player in the iron ore mining industry. Through its commitment to quality, sustainability, and customer satisfaction, the company continues to drive revenue and expand its market presence.

    Which companies are the competitors of Cleveland-Cliffs?


    Cleveland-Cliffs is a leading mining and natural resources company that specializes in the exploration, production, and processing of iron ore and steel products. As a major player in the industry, it faces competition from several other companies that operate in the same space. In this section, we will highlight some of the main competitors of Cleveland-Cliffs and provide an overview of their respective strengths and market positions.

    1. Rio Tinto

    Rio Tinto is a global mining and metals company that operates in several countries across the world. With a diverse portfolio of products, including iron ore, aluminum, copper, and diamonds, Rio Tinto poses significant competition to Cleveland-Cliffs. The company has a strong presence in Australia and Canada, where it operates extensive iron ore mining operations. It boasts a large-scale production capacity and benefits from its well-established supply chain and logistics infrastructure.

    2. BHP Group

    BHP Group, formerly known as BHP Billiton, is one of the world's largest mining companies and a key competitor of Cleveland-Cliffs. With a focus on diversified resources, BHP Group is involved in the exploration, production, and marketing of a wide range of commodities, including iron ore, coal, copper, and petroleum. The company has a robust global presence and operates major iron ore mining projects in Australia and Brazil. BHP Group's extensive resource base, operational efficiency, and strong financial position make it a formidable rival to Cleveland-Cliffs.

    3. Vale

    Vale, headquartered in Brazil, is a global mining company and one of the largest producers of iron ore and nickel in the world. With a vast network of mines and processing facilities, Vale has a significant presence in various regions, including Brazil, Canada, and Australia. The company's integrated supply chain and vertically aligned operations give it a competitive advantage in terms of cost efficiency and product quality. Vale's strong customer base and focus on sustainability also contribute to its position as a major competitor to Cleveland-Cliffs.

    4. Fortescue Metals Group

    Fortescue Metals Group is an Australian iron ore company that competes with Cleveland-Cliffs primarily in the iron ore sector. The company owns and operates significant iron ore assets in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Fortescue is known for its low-cost operations, large-scale production capabilities, and strong relationships with customers in Asia. Its strategic investments in infrastructure and technology have enabled it to optimize its operations and maintain a competitive edge in the market.

    5. ArcelorMittal

    ArcelorMittal is a global steel and mining company with a vast presence across continents. As one of the largest steel producers in the world, ArcelorMittal competes with Cleveland-Cliffs in the steel products segment. The company operates in various countries, including the United States, Europe, and Brazil, and has a diverse range of steel products catering to different industries. ArcelorMittal's extensive distribution network, technological innovation, and focus on sustainability contribute to its position as a formidable competitor to Cleveland-Cliffs.


    Cleveland-Cliffs operates in a highly competitive industry where several companies vie for market share and dominance. Rio Tinto, BHP Group, Vale, Fortescue Metals Group, and ArcelorMittal are some of the major competitors of Cleveland-Cliffs. These companies possess significant resources, expertise, and global presence, making them formidable rivals in the mining and steel industries. Cleveland-Cliffs must continue to innovate, optimize operations, and focus on customer satisfaction to maintain its competitive position in this dynamic market.

    Cleveland-Cliffs SWOT Analysis


    • Strong market position: Cleveland-Cliffs is one of the largest vertically integrated iron ore producers in North America. They have a strong presence in the Great Lakes region, which allows them to supply iron ore to major steel producers in the area.

    • Diversified product portfolio: In addition to iron ore, Cleveland-Cliffs also produces and supplies high-quality steel products. This diversification helps them mitigate the risks associated with fluctuations in iron ore prices and demand.

    • Cost advantages: Cleveland-Cliffs has a competitive advantage when it comes to production costs. They have implemented cost-saving initiatives and operational efficiencies that enable them to produce iron ore and steel products at a lower cost compared to their competitors.

    • Long-term contracts: The company has established long-term contracts with major customers, providing them with a stable revenue stream and reducing the risk of sudden market changes. These contracts also allow them to negotiate favorable pricing terms, ensuring profitability.


    • Dependence on the steel industry: Cleveland-Cliffs heavily relies on the steel industry, as it is their primary customer base. Any downturn in the steel industry can significantly impact their sales and profitability.

    • Vulnerability to market fluctuations: The company's financial performance is highly sensitive to changes in iron ore prices and demand. Fluctuations in these factors can impact their revenue and profitability, making them vulnerable to market volatility.

    • Limited geographic presence: While Cleveland-Cliffs has a strong presence in the Great Lakes region, they have limited operations in other parts of the world. This limits their ability to tap into new markets and diversify their customer base.


    • Growing demand for steel: The increasing infrastructure development and construction activities in emerging markets present an opportunity for Cleveland-Cliffs to expand their customer base and increase sales. They can leverage their strong market position and product portfolio to capture these opportunities.

    • Expansion into new markets: Cleveland-Cliffs can explore opportunities to expand their operations into new geographic regions. This would allow them to tap into new customer markets and reduce their dependence on the Great Lakes region.

    • Strategic acquisitions: The company can consider strategic acquisitions to broaden their product portfolio and strengthen their market position. Acquiring complementary businesses can provide them with access to new technologies and markets.


    • Intense competition: Cleveland-Cliffs operates in a highly competitive market, facing competition from both domestic and international suppliers of iron ore and steel products. This competition can put pressure on their pricing and market share.

    • Environmental regulations: The mining and steel industry are subject to strict environmental regulations. Compliance with these regulations can increase operating costs and impose limitations on their production processes.

    • Economic downturns: During economic downturns, the demand for steel products tends to decrease. This can negatively impact Cleveland-Cliffs' sales and profitability, as their business is closely tied to the performance of the steel industry.

    • Trade policies and tariffs: Changes in trade policies and the imposition of tariffs can disrupt global supply chains and impact Cleveland-Cliffs' ability to export their products. This can result in reduced sales and potential loss of market share.

    Key Takeaways

    • Cleveland-Cliffs is owned by its shareholders, who hold the majority of the company's stock.
    • The mission statement of Cleveland-Cliffs is to be the premier supplier of iron ore pellets to the North American steel industry and an essential part of the global steel supply chain.
    • Cleveland-Cliffs makes money primarily through the sale of iron ore pellets, which are used in the production of steel.
    • The Business Model Canvas of Cleveland-Cliffs involves key activities such as mining and processing iron ore, selling iron ore pellets, and maintaining strong relationships with customers and suppliers.
    • Competitors of Cleveland-Cliffs include companies like BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, and Vale, who are also major players in the global iron ore market.
    • In terms of SWOT analysis, Cleveland-Cliffs' strengths lie in its strong market position and vertically integrated operations, while its weaknesses include dependence on the steel industry and vulnerability to fluctuations in commodity prices. Opportunities for the company include expanding into new markets and diversifying its product portfolio, while threats include competition from other iron ore producers and potential disruptions in the global steel market.


    In conclusion, Cleveland-Cliffs is owned by a diverse group of shareholders, including institutional investors and individual stakeholders. The company's mission statement is to be the premier supplier of iron ore pellets to the North American steel industry. Cleveland-Cliffs generates revenue through the production and sale of iron ore pellets, which are in high demand within the steel manufacturing sector.

    When examining Cleveland-Cliffs' business model canvas, it becomes evident that the company focuses on key activities such as mining, processing, and selling iron ore pellets. Additionally, they have established strong relationships with customers and suppliers, ensuring a steady flow of materials and sales. By optimizing their resources and maintaining efficient operations, Cleveland-Cliffs is able to generate profits and sustain its position as a leading iron ore pellet supplier.

    Competitors in the industry include Rio Tinto, Vale, and BHP Group, among others. These companies also operate in the iron ore mining and pellet production sector, creating a competitive landscape where innovation, cost efficiency, and product quality are crucial factors for success. Cleveland-Cliffs must continuously strive to differentiate itself and deliver value to customers to stay ahead in the market.

    Conducting a SWOT analysis on Cleveland-Cliffs reveals the company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Their strengths lie in their strong market position, established customer relationships, and efficient operations. However, weaknesses such as reliance on a single industry and exposure to market fluctuations exist. Opportunities for growth include expanding into new markets and diversifying their product offerings. Yet, threats like global economic downturns and environmental regulations pose challenges.

    In summary, Cleveland-Cliffs is a significant player in the iron ore mining and pellet production industry. With a clear mission, robust business model, and competition from major players, the company must continually adapt, innovate, and leverage opportunities to maintain its leading position.


    What are strengths and weaknesses in a SWOT analysis and the opportunities and threats are ________?

    Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors in a SWOT analysis, while opportunities and threats are external factors.

    Strengths: Internal factors that give an organization a competitive advantage or unique selling proposition. These could include strong brand recognition, talented employees, efficient processes, or a loyal customer base.

    Weaknesses: Internal factors that hinder an organization's performance or put it at a disadvantage. These could include outdated technology, poor customer service, limited resources, or a weak distribution network.

    Opportunities: External factors that could potentially benefit an organization or provide new avenues for growth. These could include emerging markets, technological advancements, changing consumer trends, or new partnerships.

    Threats: External factors that could potentially harm an organization or pose challenges. These could include intense competition, economic downturns, changing regulations, disruptive technologies, or negative publicity.

    What is SWOT analysis and examples?

    SWOT analysis is a strategic planning technique used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a business, project, or individual. It provides a comprehensive overview of the internal and external factors that may influence the success or failure of a specific endeavor.

    Examples of each component of SWOT analysis are as follows:

    1. Strengths: These are the internal factors that give an advantage over competitors.

      • Strong brand reputation
      • Skilled and experienced employees
      • Efficient supply chain management
    2. Weaknesses: These are the internal factors that may put the entity at a disadvantage.

      • Limited financial resources
      • Lack of technological expertise
      • Inefficient decision-making processes
    3. Opportunities: These are external factors that provide potential for growth and improvement.

      • Emerging markets
      • Growing customer demand for a specific product/service
      • Technological advancements that align with the business's capabilities
    4. Threats: These are external factors that may hinder the success of the business.

      • Intense competition from established companies
      • Changes in government regulations
      • Economic downturns or market fluctuations

    By conducting a SWOT analysis, organizations can identify their strengths and leverage them, address weaknesses, exploit opportunities, and mitigate threats. This analysis helps in developing strategies that maximize advantages, minimize vulnerabilities, and ultimately achieve goals.

    What is the common SWOT analysis of a company?

    The common SWOT analysis of a company typically includes the following elements:

    1. Strengths: These are internal factors that give the company a competitive advantage over others. Examples may include strong brand reputation, unique product offerings, skilled workforce, efficient supply chain, or financial stability.

    2. Weaknesses: These are internal factors that put the company at a disadvantage compared to its competitors. Weaknesses can include poor brand recognition, limited resources, outdated technology, high employee turnover, or inadequate marketing strategies.

    3. Opportunities: These are external factors in the business environment that the company can potentially capitalize on to enhance its growth and profitability. Opportunities may include emerging market trends, changes in regulations, technological advancements, new customer segments, or strategic partnerships.

    4. Threats: These are external factors that pose risks or challenges to the company's success. Threats can include intense competition, economic downturns, changing consumer preferences, disruptive technologies, regulatory changes, or supplier issues.

    It is important to note that the SWOT analysis can vary depending on the specific industry, market conditions, and company objectives.

    What are the opportunities in a SWOT analysis?

    Opportunities in a SWOT analysis refer to external factors or situations that could potentially benefit a business or organization. These opportunities can be used to gain a competitive advantage or to improve the overall performance and success of the entity. Some examples of opportunities in a SWOT analysis include:

    1. Market growth: Identifying new or emerging markets that the business can expand into, allowing for increased customer base and potential revenue growth.
    2. Technological advancements: Utilizing the latest technologies to improve operational efficiency, product development, or customer experience.
    3. Changing consumer trends: Recognizing shifts in consumer preferences and behaviors, and adapting products or services to meet these changing demands.
    4. Strategic partnerships or collaborations: Forming alliances with other businesses or organizations to leverage their resources, expertise, or customer base.
    5. Economic conditions: Taking advantage of favorable economic conditions, such as low interest rates, stable inflation, or increased consumer spending, to drive business growth.
    6. Government support or incentives: Identifying government programs, grants, or tax incentives that can be utilized to support business expansion or development.
    7. Competitive gaps: Identifying weaknesses or gaps in competitors' offerings and capitalizing on them by introducing innovative products or services.
    8. Global expansion: Identifying opportunities to enter international markets to tap into new customer segments or take advantage of lower production costs.
    9. Changes in regulations or policies: Identifying regulatory changes that can benefit the business, such as relaxed regulations or new industry standards that favor the organization.
    10. Social or environmental trends: Capitalizing on growing awareness and demand for sustainable or socially responsible products or services.

    It is important to note that opportunities must be aligned with the organization's capabilities and resources to be effectively pursued.

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