MONROVIA (Reuters) - ArcelorMittal plans to cut up to 450 jobs in Liberia and lower iron ore exports from the West African nation as it battles to reduce costs, the world’s largest producer of steel said.
ArcelorMittal Liberia said its executives met with union leaders earlier this week to inform them of the pending layoffs.
“We deeply regret that the current economic environment is not allowing us to maintain employment at the current level,” Michel Prive, chief executive of ArcelorMittal Liberia, said in the statement emailed late on Tuesday.
In another move to reduce costs, the company, which owns the Tokadeh Mountain mine, will from January only operate during the dry season and will sell 3 million tonnes of direct shipping ore (DSO) to the European market.
ArcelorMittal previously operated during both the dry and wet seasons and shipped 5 million tonnes of DSO annually to Europe and China.
The company had initially planned to expand its operations in Liberia to boost annual production to around 15 million tonnes of ore by the end of 2015. However contractors working on the expansion phase declared force majeure in 2014 amid a deadly Ebola epidemic.
ArcelorMittal currently produces 70 million tonnes of iron ore per year.
Reporting by James Harding Giahyue; writing by Joe Bavier; editing by Jason Neely and Louise Heavens