Politics, anemic market prices cloud the future of Venezuela’s HBI sector

Nov 01, 2009 | 04:23 AM |

SAO PAULO, Brazil The nationalization of Venezuela's hot-briquetted iron (HBI) producers was supposed to take only 60 days, according to a presidential decree issued in mid-July, but by early October nothing had been said about the status of negotiations with the country's privately owned companies. Even the manufacturers weren't talking.

In the meantime, HBI export prices have remained very low due to sluggish demand in the international market, and local producers are waiting for a resurgence of the North American market to help lift prices.

The story began in May, when Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez, announced in a speech the nationalization of the country's four private HBI producers Complejo Siderúrgica de Guayana CA (Comsigua), Materiales Siderúrgicos SA (Matesi), Orinoco Iron SCS and Venezolana de Prerreducidos Caroní CA (Venprecar). Together, the four companies are capable of producing as much as 6 million tonnes of HBI annually.....

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