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Steel task team to report soon

A TASK team investigating ways to lower domestic steel prices will report its findings within two months, a senior government official said yesterday.

The task team, comprising officials from the Department of Trade and Industry, Mineral Resources and Economic Development, was formed after a bitter pricing row between ArcelorMittal South Africa and Kumba Iron Ore threatened the country's steel industry.

"Certainly our minister (of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies) has instructed us to try and expedite this work as rapidly as possible," Nimrod Zalk, the deputy director-general of industrial policy at the DTI told lawmakers.

The government helped ArcelorMittal, a unit of the world's biggest steelmaker, and Kumba to agree on interim pricing deal following a prolonged pricing dispute.

Under the terms of July's deal, ArcelorMittal will pay Kumba a fixed price of $50 per tonne for ore for its Saldanha plant and $70 per tonne for its inland plants for one year until July 2011.

The mandate of the task team is to make recommendations which may include changes to policy and legislation.

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