Mittal Steel Skopje, owner of two steel rolling mills in FYR Macedonia, will use a €25mn loan from the EBRD to help improve energy efficiency, provide the company with working capital and help further promote regional integration of the steel industry.

The company will use the loan to improve energy efficiency components such as rehabilitating the pusher furnaces, and switching from oil firing to natural gas in the hot-rolling mill, significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The working capital will help purchase semi-finished steel products for re-rolling, a core element of the business’s development.

Olivier Descamps, head of the EBRD’s banking team for southern and eastern Europe and the Caucasus, says a major side effect of large industrial plants – especially in the EBRD region – is their impact on the environment.

With this loan, Mittal Steel Skopje is showing its commitment to supporting not only a cleaner environment, especially by enhancing energy efficiency at the plant, but also improving local communities, he adds.

The rolling mills were purchased by the Mittal Steel Company, the world’s largest steel company, in 2004 from Balkan Steel, which at the time had commercial and financial difficulties that led to huge debt and the virtual suspension of operations at the plants.

Since taking over these companies, Mittal Steel Skopje has revived a crucial part of the economy that otherwise remained stagnant, and now employs 1,000 people at the plant. The project will also promote the mill’s cross-border integration with Mittal’s other Balkan operations, primarily in Romania and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

With its headquarters in Skopje, capital city of FYR Macedonia, Mittal Steel Skopje is of one the largest steel product manufacturers in the Balkans offering, among other products, hot rolled coils and sheets, coil rolled coils and sheets, and pre-painted coils for panelling, roofing and metallic structures.

“Following our acquisition of Balkan Steel, we were determined to improve environmental and safety practices, and to turn this into a successful steel company,” says Hans Kerkhoven, CFO, Mittal Steel Europe. “The EBRD is a partner for us in Skopje, and by working with the bank, we will achieve our objectives.”