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Italy set to give ArcelorMittal guarantees to avoid Ilva shutdown - source

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Italy set to give ArcelorMittal guarantees to avoid Ilva shutdown - source
FILE PHOTO: The ILVA steel plant is seen in Taranto, southern Italy April 27, 2018. Picture taken April 27, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile/File Photo   -   Copyright  Tony Gentile(Reuters)
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ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s ruling coalition is set to offer ArcelorMittal <MT.AS>, the world’s largest steelmaker, legal guarantees to ensure that it does not shut down the Ilva plant it bought last year, a government source told Reuters on Wednesday.

In late June, the Italian parliament revoked the legal immunity that ArcelorMittal received as part of its purchase of the heavily polluting steel plant, Europe’s largest, which it promised to bring up to required environmental standards.

The multinational has threatened to shut down the plant in the southern city of Taranto unless the legal protection, which ends at midnight on Sept. 6, is restored.

The government of the right-wing League and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement will add the new legal shield to a broader decree on industrial disputes approved by the cabinet on Tuesday, the source said, asking not to be named.

It will come into force at the end of this month, the source added.

The government’s intention to reinstate the immunity was first reported by Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore.

ArcelorMittal declined to comment.

The Ilva plant employs more than 10,000 workers and ArcelorMittal has promised to invest 1.2 billion euros to boost productivity and 1.1 billion euros to curb pollution.

The government will offer a temporary and limited protection related to the commitments set out in the clean-up plan, the source said.

“There is no immunity for deaths at work or for pollution-related illness,” he added.

In January, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Italy for failing to protect citizens from the plant, which has been blamed for hundreds of cancer-related deaths.

(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte, editing by Gavin Jones and David Evans)

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