BRUSSELS (AP) -- European steel makers warned Thursday that big iron ore price increases could slow the region's fragile economic recovery.
Eurofer -- an industry group representing ArcelorMittal SA, ThyssenKrupp AG and Corus Group PLC -- says price hikes of between 80 percent and 90 percent for steel's raw ingredient would have a significant impact on steel prices.
"Increases of this magnitude will have a significant impact on steel prices and as such on the whole manufacturing and construction value chain and ultimately on the European consumer," the group said in a statement.
It claimed the higher prices would reduce demand for many price-sensitive products and slow down Europe's economic recovery -- or push economies back into recession.
The steel makers also complained about plans to combine the world's No. 2 and No. 3 iron ore miners, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton Ltd, saying they were worried about "excessive pricing power now held by iron ore producers."
European Union antitrust regulators, acting on a Eurofer complaint, are currently examining whether the companies' proposal to pool iron ore mining in western Australia would affect the global prices or supply for iron ore transported by sea. They set no deadline for the probe.
EU regulators helped scupper BHP Billiton's hostile $68 billion bid for its Anglo-Australian rival Rio Tinto in 2008. BHP Billiton abandoned the takeover attempt after the EU's executive opposed it because they said it could harm competition. Rio Tinto said the deal undervalued it.