Luxembourg to develop steel works
By CHRISTINE CHAN in Guangzhou
A LUXEMBOURG company is finalising plans to refurbish China's biggest steelmaker following the issue of a guarantee by the Luxembourg Government to China.
The plan by Paul Wurth, a privately owned Luxembourg steel technology firm, to modernise Anshan Iron and Steel in Liaoning province was announced by Luxembourg's Minister of the Economy Robert Goebbels.
A high-level visit by Luxembourg officials to Beijing last week won preliminary consent for the project from Vice-Chairman of the State Planning Commission, Gan Ziyu.
Luxembourg officials said details would be finalised by April, probably including the contract value.
Mr Goebbels described Paul Wurth as the ''technology arm of Luxembourg's steel business, which had output last year of 3.3 million tonnes''. He said the Luxembourg Government would give a full guarantee of the company's work.
The firm would provide Anshan Iron with the technology needed to incorporate into a modern steel plant, he said.
Luxembourg, which has the world's greatest production of steel per capita, has been striving to lower its output and raise quality.
The project was seen as part of continuing efforts by Anshan to lift its output to 10 million tonnes of steel a year, from seven million tonnes last year.
The upgrading of China's largest and oldest steel producer was in line with the government's aim to boost its steel output before 2000, officials said.
This could be done either through shareholding restructuring or importing of technology, they said.
''China needs to invest in steel business in order to improve its technology standards and increase output,'' said Mr Goebbels.
''With annual steel consumption totals of 120 million tonnes and steel output at 90 million tonnes, there is still room for China to lift its output.
''Luxembourg's connection with the steel business in China dates back 100 years ago when we began the first business in Wuhan,'' he said, pointing to blast-furnace technology for which Luxembourg was famous.
''We have been undertaking lots of projects in China but, so far, this one is the largest,'' he said.
Paul Wurth was negotiating with dozens of mainland steel plants including Wuhan Iron and Steel, for ventures.
Mr Goebbels, a member of the Luxembourg delegation, was in Guangzhou for a seminar organised by the Banque Generale du Luxembourg to appraise mainland enterprises on listing securities on the Luxembourg stock exchange.
The delegation had been to Wuhan, after a four-day visit in Beijing to meet senior officials and sign an agreement to avoid double taxation.
''The purpose of the China trip is to promote all kinds of exchange between the two countries and to continue our 100 years of relationship in the steel business,'' Mr Goebells said.