WEIRTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Steel giant ArcelorMittal will lay off 171 steelworkers at its tin mill in West Virginia so it can remain competitive amid "extraordinary economic conditions," a company spokeswoman said Monday.
In December, the Luxembourg-based conglomerate said it would cut an unspecified number of jobs during 2010, mainly through attrition and "optimization of production." It declined to say when or where.
On Monday, company spokeswoman Mary Beth Holford told an Ohio television station, WTOV of Steubenville, that the cuts in Weirton are critical to remaining competitive as a producer of tin-plated steel.
Neither Holford nor ArcelorMittal spokesman Bill Steers immediately responded to telephone calls and e-mails from The Associated Press, so it was unclear when the layoffs would begin or whether other U.S. plants are affected.
Holford said laid-off workers can join a program that aims to pair them with jobs at other ArcelorMittal facilities.
Officials with the United Steelworkers union in both Pittsburgh and Weirton declined comment Monday.
The USW represents about 14,000 U.S. employees of ArcelorMittal, which also has major steelmaking operations in East Chicago and Burns Harbor, Ind.; Cleveland, Ohio; Sparrows Point, Md.; Steelton, Pa.; Georgetown, S.C.; and Riverdale, Ill.
It also owns finishing plants, and iron ore and coal mines.
ArcelorMittal is the world's largest steelmaker, with operations in more than 60 countries and about 115,000 employees in Europe. At the end of 2008, it had 315,867 employees worldwide and 36,686 employees in North America.