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France Wants Talks With ArcelorMittal on Florange Future

French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg is planning talks with ArcelorMittal’s management on strategy and the future of the Florange steel plant.

The minister “wants to quickly clarify” the situation at Florange because the site needs “rapid and significant investment” to remain competitive, according to a statement late yesterday from the ministry charged with turning around France’s industrial decline.

Montebourg was handed a report from Pascal Faure, vice president of economic adviser CGEIET, on the industrial prospects for ArcelorMittal’s idled steel plant in eastern France, the ministry said. The report concluded that there is a future for the site because it is located near car manufacturers and produces value-added products.

Florange, located in Lorraine, makes steel slabs, coils and plated sheets and was already being considered for shutdown in 2002, before Mittal Steel Co. took over Arcelor SA in 2006. ArcelorMittal is the world’s biggest steelmaker.

The future of Florange shouldn’t depend on a carbon capture and storage project at the site that is “uncertain,” according to the statement. If talks with ArcelorMittal’s management fail to produce a solution, “nothing will be excluded to ensure lasting industrial activity at the site,” the ministry said.

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