Steel Group Shelves Plans for New Black Sea Plant

The plant, which would cost $7.3 billion, was to have doubled the company's total annual steel output.

Austrian steel company Voestalpine said on Dec. 18 it was putting on ice plans to build a giant new plant on the Black Sea in the face of the looming recession. The company said it had "frozen the evaluation project for examination of a new steel site on the Black Sea."

In March, Voestalpine had announced that it was looking at four possible locations in Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine.

The plant, which analysts estimated would cost around five billion euros (US$7.3 billion), was to have doubled Voestalpine's total annual steel output of currently five million tons to meet demand from central and eastern Europe.

The four sites -- Samsun in Turkey, Constanta in Romania, Burgas in Bulgaria and Odessa in the Ukraine -- would be examined again if and when the project were reactivated, Voestalpine said.

The steelmaker clocked up its best-ever quarterly result in the three months to September, but warned that it would begin to feel the downturn in subsequent months. Chief executive Wolfgang Eder forecast a 3%-5% in output in the coming months as a result of falling demand.

Global steel production was down 19% in November compared with the equivalent figure last year, including a steep drop of 30.4% in North American output, the World Steel Association said on Dec. 18.

Production in former Soviet republics plummeted 43.1% and China's production was down 12.4%, confirming a contraction due to a slump in demand because of the current economic crisis.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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