ArcelorMittal plans to expand operations in Iraq

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Sydney, Aug 1: ArcelorMittal, the world's number one steel company with 310000 employees in more than 60 countries, is now looking to expand its operations into Iraq.

The steel company is learnt to have submitted a proposal to rehabilitate a steel facility in southern Iraq, the country's Minister of Industry and Minerals Fawzi Hariri said. The existing facility, based in Iraq's second biggest city of Basrah, will require investments of between 500 million US dollars and one billion US dollars to upgrade and possibly expand following widespread looting and damage in the aftermath of the US-led war in 2003.

Hariri, who is currently in London to meet investors, said that he held meetings this week with ArcelorMittal executives, but declined to comment on details of the discussions. "There has been a proposal submitted and it's a very interesting one," The Australian quoted Hariri as saying. He added the company's proposal was submitted recently.

However, the Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal wasn't immediately available to comment on its future plans in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Rio Tinto, one of the world's biggest diversified mining companies, is also looking at entering Iraq at some point to tap the country's copper and gold reserves, a lot of which are located in the less violence-prone north of Iraq, Hariri said.

But, Rio Tinto spokesman Nick Cobban said the company had done a "desktop review" of the country but it had no plans to enter Iraq at this stage.

According to the paper, the interest shown by some of the world's biggest mining and metals companies in Iraq underscores foreign firms' improved perceptions of operating in the country at some point, amid a relative decline in violence this year. Much of the attention of foreign investors looking to operate in Iraq has focused on US and European oil companies because of the country's huge proven oil reserves, it added.


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