BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) — ArcelorMittal SA, the world's largest steelmaker, will shed jobs from a loss-making plant in eastern France that makes wire rod.
The company did not say how many workers were likely to lose their jobs as it started formal talks with trade unions.
It said late Wednesday that closing the steel plant and billet mill as necessary to refocus production at Gandrange in the Moselle region. The factory will in future process billets — used to make rods for construction — that are shipped from ArcelorMittal's other steel plants in Luxembourg and Germany.
Local reports claimed some 600 of the factory's 1,000 employees would see their jobs go.
However, the company said it would give try to give workers the choice of relocating to a nearby flat steel plant in Florange or to other locations over the border in its home base of Luxembourg.
At the same time it said it would increase investment in Florange by 60 percent — to 65 million euros — as a sign of its commitment to the region.
ArcelorMittal chief executive Lakshmi Mittal bought the Gandrange site for a symbolic one franc in 1999.
The company has cited worries about rising costs in Europe as steelmakers face stiffer competition from Asian imports that the European industry says are unfairly sold below cost. EU rules on reducing carbon emissions may also increase costs in coming years.