Last Update: 11/07/2006 10:13:09 Chosun - The world’s largest steel maker Mittal and Korea’s POSCO, now the no. 4, look poised to become uneasy neighbors as they jostle for dominance of the rapidly growing Asian market led by China and India. With auto powerhouses Japan and Korea and skyrocketing demand for steel in booming China, the continent is by far the most attractive emerging market in the world. Mittal is to build an integrated steel mill in the Indian state of Orissa capable of producing 12 million tons of steel products annually. Lakshmi Mittal, the Indian-born billionaire and company chairman, made the announcement after a meeting with the state’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in the state capital of Bhubaneswar last Friday, press reports said. Mittal was quoted as saying the firm needs to make India and China its top priority to remain the world’s largest steelmaker. Born in India, the chairman has primarily conducted business in Europe, operating just one steel mill capable of producing 2 million tons of steel products a year in his home country. POSCO, for its part, signed an MOU with Orissa in June last year to build its first integrated steel mill there. Now its biggest rival is moving in next door. Pundits here and abroad guess Mittal’s Orissa plans are designed to hold POSCO in check. Mittal expects the Indian market to grow 7.3 percent on average annually over the next decade in terms of steel consumption: a slice of the pie well worth fighting for. POSCO is keeping its cool, saying the Asian market including India will grow big enough to consume as much as both companies can make. It vowed to engage in “fair competition” with its bigger rival. The immediate reason for both companies’ decision is that Orissa has some 10 billion tons of estimated iron ore reserves and is strategically located on the eastern Indian coast looking out on other Asian markets. POSCO decided to invest a whopping $12 billion in building an integrated steel mill there because the state government gave it a 30-year concession to mine an estimated 600 million tons of iron ore.
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