European steel makers urge EU to examine iron ore pricing

22:05, March 31, 2010      

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European steel makers urged the European Union (EU) antitrust regulator Wednesday to examine iron ore pricing for possible anti-competitive practices.

Eurofer, the European steel industry association, said in a statement it had formally notified the European Commission about possible anti-competitive practices and abuse of dominant position by the main iron ore suppliers.

"Strong indications of illicit coordination of price increases and pricing models and pressure on individual steel producers to accept these changes indicate, in Eurofer's view, that the EU competition rules may have been breached," it said.

Eurofer director general Gordon Moffat said the sharp rise in iron ore prices demanded by suppliers was unjustifiable.

"As stated by Eurofer already, the price increases of 80 to 100 percent demanded by iron ore producers do not reflect the realities of the steel market and cannot be justified by demand conditions for iron ore," he said. "That is why we are calling upon the commission, as regulator, to examine closely what is happening among iron ore suppliers."

Eurofer also reiterated its opposition to a proposed merger between BHP and Rio Tinto, two of the world's three major iron ore suppliers, of their Australian iron ore assets, saying the deal was unacceptable.

The commission launched an antitrust probe into the proposed merger in January.

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