Top Steelmakers Take Price Hits and Close Facilities

Steelmakers (NYSE:SLX) continue to face struggles as ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT), the world’s largest steelmaker, confirmed plans on Friday to permanently shut two blast furnaces in Liege, Belgium.

The company is responding to structural over capacity in Northern Europe and a longer than expected recovery for the industry.

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In a statement, ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT) Liege CEO Joao Felix da Silva said:

“Despite several improvement plans enacted in Liege to reduce the difference in the cost of hot-rolled coil between Liege and other sites in the region, the liquid phase in Liege is still not competitive enough under foreseeable market conditions,” said Joao Felix da Silva, chief executive of ArcelorMittal Liege.

In other news affecting the steel industry, Brazilian miner Vale SA (NYSE:VALE) said on Friday that it’s proposed a reduction in the price of iron ore sold on contract to Chinese steel mills. The cut will take place in the fourth quarter of 2011.

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Vale SA (NYSE:VALE) is the world’s largest producer and exporter of iron ore.

The proposal came in a letter to the Chinese after they resisted the current quarterly contract prices of more than $175 per metric ton. According to a Reuters story, they don’t want to pay the current contract prices as iron ore spot prices currently sit at $160 a ton, the lowest level since November 2010.

Also on Friday, Vale (NYSE:VALE) disclosed in a regulatory filing that the company’s board of directors had approved $3.0 billion (5.26 billion Brazilian reais) in dividend and interest payments. The company will pay its shareholders on Oct. 31 in a BRL3.26 billion interest-on-capital payment and BRL 2.0 billion in dividends.

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