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Arcelor-Mittal Steel Giant Closing in Belgium

BRUSSELS: Steel giant Arcelor-Mittal is shutting down one of two furnaces in its Ghent plant in western Belgium. The closure will be temporary and the Arcelor-Mittal staff manager Guy Bontinck said that the Belgian workforce should not fear for their jobs.

Earlier Wednesday, Arcelor-Mittal announced a similar closure in Liege in eastern Belgium. The furnace shut-downs come as steel demand remains extremely low.

ArcelorMittal employs 5,600 workers in Ghent. In Liege, a number of temporary contracts will not be extended. A thousand workers are employed in the divisions affected in Liege.

The company management is looking at early retirement schemes for white collar workers, but insists that it will do everything it can to prevent sackings.

The might of the iron industry of Belgium once embodied in the spectacular landmark of Brussels, the Atomium monument, has been going through difficult days amid the world financial crises which errupted in early autumn 2008.