New Delhi: The head of Arcelor Mittal, the world’s largest steel maker, said on 25 March that the company could build steel plants in two Indian states, rather than just one.
“The strategy for India is to start field projects,” company chairman Lakshmi N. Mittal told reporters on the sidelines of an international steel meeting here.
Luxemburg-based Arcelor Mittal signed an initial agreement with Jharkhand in 2005 to build a $9 billion (Rs39,600 crore) steel plant there, but progress has been slow due to problems over securing an iron ore mine.
Since that agreement, the neighbouring state of Orissa has also cleared a separate proposal by the firm for a Rs40,000 crore project in its mineral-rich Keonjhar region.
The Orissa agreement, signed in December, has prompted media speculation that Mittal would opt for one or the other.
“We have got the land, the mines identified. But there is a lot of work to be done,” he said. Asked whether the company would opt for Orissa or Jharkhand, Mittal said: “It could be both. We don’t know.”
The state-owned steel maker, Steel Authority of India Ltd, is also interested in the Jharkhand mines Arcelor Mittal is seeking. Jharkhand government officials said they were trying to work out a deal.
Arcelor Mittal expects to win regulatory approval to buy a stake in Chinese steel maker Laiwu Steel Corp (LSC) in the next two months, strengthening its position in the biggest market for the metal.
LSC would be the company’s second investment in a Chinese steel maker. The company agreed on 6 March to pay about $148 million to buy new shares and increase its stake in Hunan Valin Steel Tube and Wire Co. to 33.3%. “We are awaiting the National Development and Reform Commission’s approval,” Mittal said, after a meeting of the International Iron and Steel Institute. He said the decision might take a “couple of months.”
China, the fastest-growing major economy, accounts for about a third of global steel output and its production has expanded more than fourfold in a decade. Arcelor Mittal, which makes almost a 10th of the world’s steel, has targeted growth in China and India , the world’s two most populous countries.
Laiwu Steel Group, the founder of LSC, said in January that it was in talks with the Mittals to extend a pact to sell 38% of its publicly traded unit.