ALMATY, July 31 ArcelorMittal's subsidiary in Kazakhstan cut crude steel output by 18 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2012, the company said on Tuesday.
ArcelorMittal Temirtau, which operates the Central Asian nation's only steel mill, said it produced 1.58 million tonnes of crude steel in January-June 2012, down from 1.94 million tonnes in the same year-ago period.
The company's rolled steel production stood at 1.43 million tonnes in the first half of 2012, or 12 percent below the same year-ago period. Pig iron output fell by 15 percent to 1.39 million tonnes in the same comparison.
Half-year output at ArcelorMittal's Kazakh unit was hit in May by a fire in its sinter plant that feeds the blast furnaces, and by the unstable work of a number of other workshops, the company said in a statement.
"We are preparing to work in complicated market conditions in the second half of the year," the company quoted its Chief Executive Vijay Mahadevan as saying in a Russian-language statement.
"We are facing the tasks of raising the stability and efficiency of the main production lines, as well as cutting energy consumption and improving the quality of our end product. This would allow us to increase the company's competitiveness in the current market conditions."
This month ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel producer, won a respite in a months-long labour dispute with its workers in Kazakhstan, agreeing a temporary pay deal, but will still have to return to the table in October.
ArcelorMittal Temirtau faced a sudden shock to demand this year when Western financial sanctions on Iran closed the door to a market that accounted for a considerable portion of the mill's sales last year. (Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Alison Birrane)