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ArcelorMittal (MT - Analyst Report) announced that its operations in Liberia shipped about 3 million tons of iron ore from Jan 1 to Aug 8, 2013. It was almost double the shipment registered in the same period a year ago. The company shipped 516,000 tons of iron ore in the month of Jul 2013 which nearly tripled from 175,138 tons shipped in Jul 2012.

The improvements in Liberia operations led to the increased shipments. The main contribution came from the ability to carry out transshipment in the dry season. A smaller vessel is loaded for three or four rotations during transshipment, transmitting up to 60,000 tons of ore to Cape-size ocean going vessels of up to 200,000 tons. The ore is then transported to customers in Europe and China. ArcelorMittal has already shipped 3 million tons of ore in 2013 and remains on track to produce 4.5 million tons in 2013.

The Liberia operations also combat the effect of rain on operations especially because the rainy season remained a challenge for ArcelorMittal in 2012. In order to mitigate this, the company is implementing a polymer blending facility which will help in overcoming the potential risks related to high moisture content in iron ore and solve the concerns over shipping during the rainy season.

A few days ago, ArcelorMittal announced plans to restart an expansion project at its Monlevade and Juiz de Fora sites in Brazil.  The project expansion is expected to increase the annual production capacity from 3.75 million tons to 4.9 million tons.

Monlevade is expected to produce 1.05 million tons per year of coil on capital investment of $140 million. The expanded wire rod from Monlevade is expected to enhance supply of added value products mainly to the domestic construction and automotive industries.

On the other hand, Rebar capacity at MT’s Juiz de Fora site will be increased from the current 50,000 to 400,000 tons a year. Also, the site’s melt shop will produce an extra 200,000 tons of billets per year using its new ladle and new sixth strand in the continuous caster. Additional rebar at the Juiz de Fora site is expected to go into downstream cut and bend operations for civil construction end users.

ArcelorMittal currently maintains a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Other companies in the steel industry with favorable Zacks Rank are Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation (NSSMY), Ternium S.A. (TX - Snapshot Report) and Kobe Steel Ltd. (KBSTY). While Nippon Steel maintains a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Kobe Steel and Ternium each hold a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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