ArcelorMittal, BHP Billiton Considering Joint Venture

World's largest steel maker and miner BHP Billiton said Tuesday that they were in talks about combining iron ore mining in Liberia and Guinea.

BRUSSELS (AP) -- ArcelorMittal SA, the world's largest steel maker, and miner BHP Billiton Ltd. said Tuesday that they were in talks about combining iron ore mining in Liberia and Guinea.

ArcelorMittal SA said the two companies' iron ore and infrastructure interests were located near each other and "could be significantly more competitive if brought together" in a joint venture.

BHP Billiton said the talks were at an early stage and would continue over several months.

Last April, ArcelorMittal halted construction on an ambitious $1.5 billion project to mine iron ore in western Liberia, citing slow global demand for steel during the recession.

The company delayed plans to export iron ore until this year or next year and laid off construction workers building a railway to transport iron ore from the mine to a port. The plan was a major boost to Liberia's economy, ravaged by a recent civil war.

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