Posco Said to Be Backing Away From $12 Billion India Project – by Abhishek Shanker (Bloomberg News – March 27, 2015)


(Bloomberg) — Posco is backing away from a planned $12 billion steel complex in India, which has been stalled by local disputes and lease issues since it was proposed a decade ago, people familiar with the development said.

South Korea’s biggest steelmaker has tried to get back the money it gave to government agencies in the eastern state of Odisha to secure some of the land, and for railway connections, according to three people and company letters seen by Bloomberg. Six of 13 employees at Posco’s Indian unit overseeing the project have also “voluntarily” resigned, spokesman I.G. Lee said in a text message.

“Still, we are on and waiting for further progress,” Lee said about the proposed steel complex. He isn’t aware of any letter from Posco seeking a refund, Lee said.

Posco’s Odisha project, the nation’s biggest foreign investment, has failed to take off since 2005 because of opposition from local farmers and the failure to secure iron ore mining leases. The steelmaker was able to overcome local resistance and get the state to acquire about 2,700 acres (1,093 hectares) of land for the first phase.

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Mining analyst weighs in on sale of Cliffs’ Ring of Fire – CBC Sudbury Points North’s Jason Turnbull Interviews Mining Policy Analyst Stan Sudol (March 25, 2015)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury The mining policy analyst and owner/editor of www.republicofmining.com, Stan Sudol says the Noront Resources got a good deal in its purchase of Cliffs Natural Resources stake in the Ring of Fire. Click here: http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Local+Shows/Ontario/Up+North/ID/2660705564/

Letter from: the blast furnaces of Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine’s decaying industrial heartland – by Alan Turgutoglu (Calvert Journal – February 19, 2015)


The Calvert Journal is a daily briefing on the culture and creativity of modern Russia.

Ugly cities are plentiful in Ukraine, but Kryvyi Rih, a city in central Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region, is uglier than most. Its skyline of towering pit heads and blast furnaces extends for 130 km across the horizon, following the line of the region’s iron ore deposits. The city has the odd distinction of being the longest city in Europe.

The statue of Lenin still looks proudly upon his labourers, even though many of the iron ore mines are now long closed. In a country where nobody minds the rashes from bathing in the polluted seas and rivers in summertime, this city is dirty enough to make people want to leave. What brought me here were the stories of former inhabitants who left and who told me that the pollution is so bad that houses, cars and even cats and dogs are constantly coated in red dust, a by­-product of the ore extraction process. Upon arrival I was welcomed by a cloud of smog unlike anything I’ve seen in Ukraine, rivalling that of some Chinese cities.

It’s worse in the evening, when the sky is covered with brownish­red clouds of smoke. The chemical smell is nauseating. “It’s probably because these plants function at lower capacity in the morning and afternoon, then go up to full capacity in the evening.

People are less likely to complain then,” Andrei, 28, tells me. He’s a foreman in a metallurgical plant at a full-­cycle combine, a complex which carries out the complete iron production process from the moment the ore is extracted from underground all the way to casting the metal bars which are then shipped across the country.

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South Korea’s POSCO faces another setback in India – by Krishna N. Das and Jatindra Dash (Reuters India – February 5, 2015)


(Reuters) – South Korea’s POSCO (005490.KS) will have to bid for an iron ore licence to feed its planned $12 billion steel plant in India, a minister said, in a setback for the company that was expecting the government to allocate it a mine without any competition.

The project to be set up by the world’s sixth-largest steelmaker has been caught up in a regulatory maze for the past decade, but the company had waited in the hope of getting preferential access to iron ore in Odisha.

But steel and mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Thursday ruled out an exception to an executive order mandating auctions for all new mines. This will mean POSCO’s costs will likely rise if it does manage to win a mine.

“Even I’ll have to bid for a mine if I want one,” Tomar said, as the government looks to overhaul the past practice of handing over mines and reduce chances of corruption. The government’s decision, however, goes against the recommendation of Odisha to grant POSCO a mine without an auction.

“It was an international commitment and we had recommended on the basis of the request made by the (previous) central government,” Odisha’s steel and mines minister Prafulla Kumar Mallik told Reuters. “If POSCO will have to bid, it will be a setback for the project.”

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Joins Steelmakers in Filing Complaint with U.S. Government – by John Miller (Wall Street Journal – February 3, 2015)


Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. plans to join steelmakers in filing complaints over steel imported into the U.S., its chief executive said, a move that could increase pressure on the U.S. government to add more tariffs on steel products.

Under chief executive Lourenco Goncalves, who took over last August, Cliffs has been restructuring to focus on five profitable iron ore mines in Minnesota and Michigan that sell exclusively to U.S. Steel , ArcelorMittal and other steelmakers with U.S. mills.

Those mines are now vulnerable to the sudden slide in steel prices. Most steel experts have attributed, principally, to the collapse in oil prices. As energy companies have pulled back, they have canceled orders for steel pipe.

But Mr. Goncalves said in an interview that a rise in steel imports is the biggest factor in depressing prices. Steel imports rose 34% to 41.5 million during the first 11 months of 2014, according to Global Trade Information Services. “The collapse of the steel price is not about the oil price,” Mr. Goncalves said. “The reason is the avalanche of imports.”

Adopting an aggressive trade stance is the latest move in the Cleveland-based iron-ore and coal miner’s struggle to return to profitability amid falling steel, iron ore and oil prices.

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Saving American Industry by Disrupting It – by Pat Choate (Huffington Post – January 14, 2015)


The U.S. economy has lost more than a third of its industrial base over the past 20 years and with it more than six million good-paying jobs. This loss is the real cause of the rising economic inequality that now plagues our nation.

While most of the corporate CEOs who are facilitating this outsourcing of national wealth are indifferent to what is happening, there are a few old-fashioned, true capitalists who are not. One of those is Texas entrepreneur Rob Wendt. He is a man on a mission: He’s fighting to rebuild the American steel industry with American workers in America.

His is a lofty goal, to say the least. Once at the heart of the U.S. economy, the steel business now stands with the automobile industry as a stark symbol of American decline. Our nation led the world in steel production for decades — it was used to build the cars and appliances that fueled domestic job creation and economic growth over much of the 20th century — but U.S. producers have been in freefall since the recession of the 1970s.

At one time its biggest exporter, America is today the world’s number-one steel importer. We have been outrun by China, Europe, and Japan — and now India is hot on our heels.

Wendt wants to reverse that trend. To do so, he is using what the industry has lacked for nearly 100 years: truly disruptive technology. His startup, Origami Steel, has developed a patent-pending process that could radically change the ways in which steel is both made and sold.

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Success secrets of Francis H. Clergue [the visionary founder of Algoma Steel] – by David Helwig (Soo Today.com – November 13, 2014)


If you look carefully at the structural steel in the oldest of those magnificent Romanesque buildings at the Mill Square redevelopment, you’ll see Andrew Carnegie’s maker’s mark.

Francis Hector Clergue used the American robber baron’s Carnegie Steel in the initial buildings of his new pulp mill. Clergue, as every Saultite knows, was the lawyer from Bangor, Maine who came here in 1894 on behalf of a group of Philadelphia capitalists looking for investment opportunities.

He founded St. Marys Paper, what is now Essar Steel Algoma, and Algoma Central Railway, all in just eight years from 1895 to 1902. Other buildings at the St. Marys Paper/ Mill Square site were built with Clergue’s Algoma Steel after the first local ingot was cast in 1902.

Glen Martin sees a ton of significance and symbolism in Clergue’s switch to homegrown Algoma Steel. Martin is the hirsute Los Angeles-based Saultite who was the initial driving force behind the Sault Ste. Marie Solar Park before the project was acquired by Starwood Energy in 2010.

He’s also the founder and chief executive officer of Energizing Company, a California startup that’s planning to deploy its flagship utility-distributed microgrid project here in Sault Ste. Marie. In recent months, Martin has been thinking a lot about the history of his hometown.

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Stainless Steel and the Ring of Fire – by Rick Millette (Northern Policy Institute – October 1, 2014)


It would be hard to find an adult in Northern Ontario who hasn’t heard of the Ring of Fire or doesn’t know what it promises for the North’s future. Most believe that long term prosperity for workers, industry and First Nations people is at their doorstep.

That dream extends beyond the basics. Many northerners suffer a sense of loss with every trainload of raw ore they see heading down the tracks and out of Northern Ontario. There’s a long-held belief that full value is not being retained for those resources.

With the discovery of chromite in the Ring of Fire several years ago, it didn’t take long for the value-added dream to be dreamt again. The North now has all the ingredients in their backyard to make stainless steel, a uniqueness not found anywhere else in the world. How incredulous would it be for Canada to be the only G8 country not to have a stainless steel industry when the chromite, nickel and iron are all in one place?

Although the timeline for the eventual development of the Ring of Fire may be unknown, few would believe that $60-billion of known mineral wealth will stay in the ground for very long.

One way to accelerate that extraction and to start generating wealth on three fronts, would be for our governments to invest in the development of a stainless steel industry.

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U.S. Steel filing throws fate of Hamilton, Ontario assets into question – by Euan Rocha and Allison Martell (Reuters Canada – September 21, 2014)


TORONTO (Reuters) – U.S. Steel Corp’s move to seek creditor protection for its Canadian operations throws into question the fate of the more than a century old steel operations in Hamilton, Ontario.

U.S. Steel acquired the Canadian operations – including the Hamilton assets and the newer Lake Erie facilities in Nanticoke, Ontario – through its acquisition of Stelco Inc in 2007. The Canadian operation was soon bleeding red ink, however, as demand for steel declined following the financial crisis.

Much of the Canadian operation’s value is seen residing in Lake Erie, with years of job cutbacks, environmental liabilities and the weight of a massive retiree base weighing on the worth of the Hamilton assets.

People familiar with the situation told Reuters that U.S. Steel had sought to restructure its Canadian operation this summer, before it sought creditor protection in Canada earlier this week. One plan included the parent company acquiring the Lake Erie facilities but divesting itself the Hamilton assets.

After those plans failed to pan out, some industry watchers think U.S. Steel’s move to seek creditor protection may just be the longer road toward the same end game.

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Posco sees Indonesia as a hot spot – by Joo Kyung-Don (Korea JoongAng Daily – September 18, 2014)


CILEGON, Indonesia — Sweat comes easily and often in Indonesia, where average daytime temperatures reach a humid 33 degrees Celsius (91 degrees Fahrenheit). And the hottest place in the country just might be Krakatau Posco, Southeast Asia’s first integrated steel mill.

“If you look at the history of steel industry, there is no mill on the Equator because it’s not easy to work in hot weather,” says Min Kyung-zoon, president of Krakatau Posco. “We are doing something that is outside the realm of common sense.”

The mill is a joint venture of Korea’s largest steelmaker, Posco, and Indonesia’s state-run steelmaker, Krakatau, in which the Korean company has a 70 percent stake.

It takes about 90 minutes, depending on Jakarta traffic, to drive to the industrial city of Cilegon on the northwest coast of the island of Java. Here, Posco is trying not only to make appositive change in the city, but in all of Indonesia.

For Posco, the success of Krakatau Posco – which has an annual capacity of 1.5 million tons each of slabs and steel plates – is important because it is the company’s first integrated steel mill overseas.

Considering that Posco was established 46 years ago in Pohang, North Gyeongsang, primarily by acquiring foreign technologies and know-how, it also signals the company’s evolving role in the global steel industry.

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Time to stop ‘saving’ U.S. Steel Canada – by Peter Foster (National Post – September 19, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Five years ago, outside the gates of U.S. Steel Canada’s Nanticoke plant on Lake Erie, unionized workers sported a sign reading “Guantanamo North.” The sign might have been accurate if the company had been trying to lock workers in rather than out, but its main significance lay in indicating the poisonous relations between the United Steelworkers and U.S. Steel, which had taken over the plant as part of its acquisition of Stelco in 2007.

This week the union was again posturing angrily following the announcement that U.S. Steel Canada has filed for bankruptcy protection. Since the end of 2009, it has suffered an aggregate loss of US$2.4-billion. Its liabilities surpass its assets by around US$2 billion. The company also announced this week that expansion plans north of the border were being shelved. The news sent the shares of parent U.S. Steel to a three year high.

Analysts have suggested that the need for protection be laid at the door of poor management, and that may well be a factor. However, at least as important is the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Meanwhile there are other major culprits: principally the Ontario and federal governments, with President Obama’s Buy American policies another major negative factor.

Ontario’s attempt to make Stelco a more desirable purchase by providing a forgivable loan to U.S. Steel, provisional on refurbishing Stelco’s depleted pension fund, has turned out to be a millstone. The fund is at least $800-million underwater, with requirements for the company to kick in further hundreds of millions of dollars in coming years.

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A case of buyer’s remorse? What went wrong at U.S. Steel Canada – by Kristine Owram (National Post – September 18, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

The exuberance that greeted United States Steel Corp.’s purchase of Stelco Inc. in 2007 is a distant memory as the company begins restructuring its Canadian operations under bankruptcy protection.

When the deal was announced seven years ago — shortly after Stelco emerged from its first trip through bankruptcy protection — the tone was as positive as could be. “Our acquisition of Stelco is another example of how we are building value for our stakeholders,” then-U.S. Steel CEO John Surma said when the $1.9-billion deal was announced.

“The fit with U.S. Steel is excellent,” agreed then-Stelco CEO Rodney Mott. “This is an outstanding deal for Stelco’s owners, employees, customers, suppliers and communities.”

But it didn’t turn out that way. Late Tuesday, U.S. Steel Canada Inc. said it had received creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), citing an aggregate operating loss of US$2.4-billion since December 2009 and US$1-billion in pension liabilities.

“I am disappointed and sad to see the former Stelco go into CCAA again,” former Stelco CEO Courtney Pratt said in an email. U.S. Steel’s shares rose by more than 10% to a three-year high Wednesday following the announcement, which included a decision not to pursue US$800-million in expansion projects.

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U.S. Steel Canada files for creditor protection – by Greg Keenan (Globe and Mail – September 17, 2014)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Toronto — United States Steel Corp. could sell all or part of the assets of U.S. Steel Canada Inc., as it restructures its Canadian unit, which was granted protection from creditors Tuesday under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.

U.S. Steel Canada, (USSC) consists of the operations of the former Stelco Inc., that U.S. Steel purchased in 2007. The filing culminates almost seven years of turmoil at what was once Canada’s largest steel maker and one of the country’s blue-chip manufacturers. Since the takeover of Stelco, U.S. Steel has locked out employees at operations in Hamilton, Ont., and Nanticoke, Ont., and engaged in a battle with the federal government companies–later settled–over whether the steel giant was breaking promises it made to Ottawa when it bought Stelco.

“The stay of proceedings and related relief sought in this application will provide USSC with the necessary ‘breathing room’ to allow it to carry out a restructuring, including continuing discussions with its key stakeholders,” U.S. Steel Canada said in a court filing, “and to explore restructuring solutions including, potentially, a consensual restructuring of certain material obligations, a sales process to solicit interest in purchasing all or part of USSC’s business, and/or other restructuring processes.”

The company filed for protection after racking up losses before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $1.5-billion between 2008 and 2013, it said in the filing. That period included the recession of 2008-2009, when steel demand shrank dramatically in North America as auto makers slashed production and construction slowed to a trickle.

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A giant of the past [U.S. Steel] resurrected as newest Wall Street hot stock – by Tim Shufelt (Globe and Mail – September 15, 2014)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

After years of despair that left shareholders reeling, United States Steel Corp. is regaining at least some of its former might.

Once a pillar of the American economy, the company’s long-slumping stock has been one of the hottest large caps over the past three months. That could be just the beginning of a return to form for a stock riding an organizational and industry transformation.

“The potential for transformational change at U.S. Steel is one of the most intriguing stories in the U.S. steel sector at the moment,” Credit Suisse analyst Nathan Littlewood said in a recent note. “The company’s raw material cost advantages as well as privileged steel price environment should position U.S. Steel as one of the most profitable steel makers in the world.”

A century ago, U.S. Steel was known on Wall Street simply as “The Corporation” by virtue of its size alone. More recently, the company benefited from the demand for resources fuelled by China’s rise. The vast quantities of steel required for the building of cities and infrastructure kept prices high through the early 2000s.

The financial crisis snuffed out the global growth needed for a buoyant steel market. And with China consuming half of the world’s steel, a slowdown in Chinese growth over the past couple of years has extended price weakness.

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Half a Loaf? Getting maximum value from the Ring of Fire – by Rick Millette (Northern Policy Institute – August 8, 2014)


When I was a youngster, we had a neighbour who kept a jar of coins. When kids would visit, he’d offer the jar and say, “take as many as you like”. If you grabbed too many, your bulging fist wouldn’t make it through the neck of the jar. Lesson learned.

As the development of the Ring of Fire moves ahead, those involved will need to make complicated decisions on how much of the Ring’s wealth to keep in Ontario and how much to let go.

At this point, there are many scenarios of where the North’s chromite might end up. It’s certain that the raw ore will be reduced to concentrate at the mine sites, but after that, it’s a guess. When Cliffs Natural Resources was grabbing the headlines, the plan was to have the concentrate shipped to Sudbury to be turned into ferro chrome at a new smelter they would build in Capreol.

Right now, it’s debatable whether the Ring’s chromite will ever see an Ontario smelter due to provincial electrical costs. Quebec and Manitoba sell their power to industries for less than three cents per kilowatt hour (KWH), while Ontario’s rates are based on a spot market that is often double that.

Other than government intervention, there is nothing that would stop a company from shipping the chromite directly to another province or to another country. At the very least, northerners want the chromite smelted into ferro chrome in the North.

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