ArcelorMittal to invest $1 billion in Mexico

Steelmaker ArcelorMittal has offices at Indiana Harbor. The company plans to invest $1 billion in Mexico.

ArcelorMittal plans to invest $1 billion over the next three years in Mexico.

The global steelmaker, the world's largest by volume, announced it would invest heavily in mining and steelmaking in Mexico, where many U.S. automakers have been shifting small car production. Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, one of Northwest Indiana's largest employers, plans to construct a new hot strip mill that will boost its productivity in Mexico from 4 million tons a year to 5.3 million tons a year.

ArcelorMittal recently invested $200 million in improvements at its Indiana Harbor steel mill, including upgrades to the "Mighty 80" 80-inch hot strip mill on the east side. But it also idled many finishing lines there, including the hot strip mill at the former LTV mill on the west side. The steelmaker accounts for about two-thirds of the 15 million tons of steel produced in Northwest Indiana annually.

ArcelorMittal plans to spend the next three years building a new hot strip mill in Mexico capable of cranking out 2.5 million tons of flat-rolled steel coil for customers in Mexico. 

“Construction of the new hot strip mill, alongside the other projects in our investment program which are geared towards enhancing the efficiency and quality of our operations, will enable us to optimize our asset base and increase the proportion of finished steel products for our domestic customers," ArcelorMittal Mexico Chief Executive Officer Victor Cairo said in a news release. "The investments will help us to meet the demand requirements for higher-added value products we expect to see from domestic customers which today are heavily dependent on imports, while continuing to support ArcelorMittal’s NAFTA operations by providing high-quality semi-finished steel slabs.”

Lakshmi Mittal, chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal, said the investment would create 800 new jobs in Mexico.

“In order to make investment decisions of the scale we have announced today we need both a (favorable) investment environment and confidence in long-term domestic growth prospects," he said in the release. "I therefore warmly welcome the confirmation of the Special Economic Zones by the Mexican government, which establishes a positive regulatory investment framework aimed at facilitating economic and infrastructure development in the south of the country."

Mittal said the company's investment aligned with the Mexican government’s objectives will enable the firm to benefit from the anticipated increased demand for higher-added value steel products from domestic Mexican customers.

The steelmaker estimates it will be able to produce 2.5 million tons of flat rolled steel, 1.8 million tons of long steel and 1 million tons of semi-finished slabs a year in Mexico after completing the investments.

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Business reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.