ArcelorMittal's Orissa, Jharkhand steel projects delayed by two years

Arcelor-MittalThe LN Mittal-controlled company, ArcelorMittal, is reportedly holding up its $20-25 billion proposed steel projects in Orissa and Jharkhand, largely because of the global economic crisis that has weakened demand for steel. As such, the world's biggest steelmaker's pending payment to the state government, for a 1,500-acre land earmarked for the proposed facility, will also be delayed.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a steel industry seminar organized the FICCI - Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry - the ArcelorMittal's India operations head, Vijay Bhatnagar, said that that company had no intentions of cancelling either of the projects, and the delay was a result of "changed priorities."

Bhatnagar cited "economic downturn" as the "top reason" for the delay in the projects. He added that the other reason was "procedural delays and the cycle times have been much more to get land and mining resources" than anticipated.

Prior to the announced delay, the India-born, London-based entrepreneur Mittal had said that the groundbreaking for both Orissa and Jharkand projects - the company's only greenfield steel plants globally; each with an overall 12 million tonnes per annum steel capacity - will kick off by end-2009 and production would begin by 2014.

However, Bhatnagar specified that, in the present economic scenario, "greenfield steel projects certainly do not top the list."