The head of Cleveland-Cliffs is once again among the 200 highest-paid CEOs.

Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves ranks 187th this year on the list with a total compensation of more than $15 million reported in 2018, according to data compiled by Equilar for the New York Times.

Last year, Goncalves, who also serves as the mining company’s president and chairman, was ranked 46th on last year’s list after making $23 million in 2017.

Much of the difference between the two years is due to a retention payment Gonvalves received in 2017 after agreeing to continue leading Cliffs, Goncalves said in a telephone interview with the News Tribune Friday afternoon.

“So that basically doubled my pay (in 2017). In 2018, I didn’t have that,” Goncalves said. “But I did get a pay increase, and I got a lot more stock.”

The study listed the median pay of all Cliffs employed as $125,067 in 2018 — up from $100,501 in 2017. That means Goncalves made 123 times the amount a median Cliffs employee made in 2018. In 2017, Goncalves made 234 times more than the median Cliffs employee.

“So it improved,” Goncalves said of the CEO-to-employee pay ratio.

Goncalves said the increase in median pay partially came from wage increases stemming from a four-year contract ratified in October between Cliffs and its 1,800 union employees represented by the United Steelworkers, but most of the increased earnings came from company profits shared with its employees.

Goncalves has led Cliffs since August 2014 when hedge fund Casablanca Capital won a proxy battle for the company. He replaced Jim Kirsch as chairman and Gary Halverson as CEO. Prior to his role at Cliffs, Goncalves was CEO of steel manufacturer Metals USA.

“My predecessor, Gary Halverson, used to make a lot less than me, and the company would not be here if he had stayed. But you know, I’m an expensive guy — not as expensive as Elon Musk,” Goncalves said, referring to the CEO of electric car company Tesla and his 2018 compensation of $2.2 billion.

The company said investors agreed in a Cliffs in an SEC filing made last year about Goncalves’ $23 million 2017 compensation.

"Nearly all of our institutional investors have agreed that without Mr. Goncalves' leadership, it is questionable whether we would have been able to avoid bankruptcy at some point during early 2016," the filing said. "He has immense passion for Cliffs and its future and therefore he is compensated commensurate with these opportunities in the larger market."