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November, 24th 2017

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MAY 18
09:05

ArcelorMittal welcomes vote against Bosnian mine sale

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ArcelorMittal has welcomed the vote by Republika Srpska, Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, against the sale of the 65% government stake in the Ljubija iron ore mine to Israeli Investment Group (IIG).

The National Assembly of Republika Srpska carried out the vote on Wednesday after ArcelorMittal warned it would take legal action against the authority if it went ahead with the sale (see Kallanish 18 May). Out of the 80 deputies that voted, 39 voted for the proposal, 34 voted against and seven abstained.

“The Parliament’s binding decision not to award a 65% stake in Ljubija Iron Ore Mines (RZR) to Israeli Investment Group (IIG) is a step in the right direction and a welcome recognition that the future majority shareholder of RZR must have the necessary mining expertise to operate the Ljubija mines as well as the ability to guarantee a commercial market for the output of the mines,” an ArcelorMittal spokesperson says.

The government plan to sell the mine to IIG had polarised Bosnian Serb politicians and led to protests from miners who feared job losses.

ArcelorMittal operates its Prijedor concentrate plant at the site of its fully-owned Omarska mine in northern Bosnia. This feeds iron ore to long product steelworks ArcelorMittal Zenica. The steelmaker also holds a 35.1% stake in the Ljubija mine and made a bid in 2014 to buy-out Republika Srpska’s shareholding (see Kallanish passim). However, the authority chose IIG’s bid instead.

“ArcelorMittal now awaits clarity on the next stage in the RZR sale process and hopes that the government will recognise ArcelorMittal’s rights with regard to the exploitation of Ljubija mines without delay,” the steelmaker says. “ArcelorMittal strongly believes that our offer for the acquisition of RZR shares is the only viable and achievable option that would ensure a long-term future for the mining industry in the Prijedor area.”

Zenica said earlier this year it signed up Danieli Corus to reline its blast furnace no.4, with work scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2018. Zenica produced 800,000 tonnes of crude steel in 2016.