Ukraine's Metinvest doubles iron ore exports to Europe despite fighting

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LVIV, Ukraine, March 28 (Reuters) - Ukraine's largest steelmaker Metinvest has doubled its iron ore shipments this month to Europe despite fighting that has ravaged the country, its chief executive said.

The company typically used to ship 500,000 to 600,000 tonnes of iron ore concentrate or pellets to Europe each month, but that has now "almost doubled" to more than a million tonnes in March, CEO Yuriy Ryzhenkov told Reuters.

There was strong demand, but customers also wanted to show solidarity with Ukraine, he said.

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Privately held Metinvest BV said in an emailed update on March 22 that its iron ore assets were running at around 40% of their 2021 production volumes.

This ensured enough raw materials for its unit Kamet Steel, which was operating at about 60% of last year's volumes, while the remainder of iron ore was being exported by rail, it added, without providing the volumes.

British-based consultancy MEPS International told Reuters it had heard of iron ore shipments from Ukraine into Poland.

Metinvest, majority owned by Ukraine's richest man and business magnate Rinat Akhmetov, produces about 40 million tonnes of iron ore a year.

Some Metinvest steel operations have been placed in "hot conservation mode", while others have been damaged in the conflict, the company's update said.

Metinvest produces around 13-14 million tonnes of crude steel a year.

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Additional reporting by Eric Onstad in London; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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Thomson Reuters

Jerusalem bureau chief who has reported on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iraq War, South Asia, Arab Spring, with experience in New York and London as a correspondent and video journalist as part of award-winning multimedia teams with The New York Times and The Times of London. Co-author of the book 'Hamas: The Islamic Resistance Movement'.