Mittal Doesn’t See Return to Pre-Crisis Usage ‘Anytime Soon’

ArcelorMittal Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lakshmi Mittal said steel demand won’t recover “soon” to levels seen before the financial crisis.

ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, is adjusting output to meet customer requirements, he said today in an interview. Mittal, 62, declined to comment on possible closures.

“I don’t believe we’ll return to pre-crisis level of demand anytime soon,” he said in New York after speaking at the Steel Success Strategies conference.

ArcelorMittal has slumped 43 percent in the past year after steel prices declined and demand dropped in Europe amid the region’s debt crisis. The Luxembourg-based company has shuttered or idled plants in the country and in Belgium, Spain, France in the past nine months.

European steel-plant shutdowns are inevitable as the region’s demand in a “normal market” is as much as 160 million metric tons while it has a production capacity of 210 million tons, industry lobby group Eurofer said last week.

Global steel use will rise 3.6 percent this year, less than 2010’s 5.6 percent gain, as European demand contracts and Chinese use slows, the World Steel Association said April 27.

New supplies of coal are exerting “tremendous pressure” on the price of the commodity, Mittal also said.

“Even in 2008, we didn’t have a short supply of coal,” he said.

The price of low-volatility metallurgical coal, a raw material used in steelmaking, has dropped 33 percent to $210.50 a ton over the past year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. ArcelorMittal is among steelmakers who mine some of their own coal and iron ore.

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