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Ukraine ArcelorMittal promises investments after pollution charges

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By Reuters

KIEV (Reuters) – ArcelorMittal’s <MT.AS> Ukrainian steel mill, charged with violating environmental standards, will invest $1.8 billion (£1.4 billion) over the next five years to reduce air emissions by 50-55 percent, the company said on Thursday.

The decision to invest in the plant’s modernisation followed a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his officials, it said in a statement.

The company said last month it would lose $1 million after a key piece of steelmaking equipment was seized following a security service investigation.

The plant’s acting head Oleksandr Ivanov said the investigation had started after Zelenskiy publicly criticised pollution levels in mid-July when speaking to officials in his hometown of Kryvyi Rih, where the mill is based.

Ukraine’s security service (SBU) said earlier it had discovered a source of radiation exceeding safe levels in a new piece of equipment at the plant and had banned the company from using it.

SBU has said the investigation was not aimed at putting pressure on the company, which has invested more than $9 billion in the country’s biggest steel plant.

The company said on Thursday it “was given the opportunity to continue the implementation of the investment project.”

“In particular, the commissioning work was resumed, which was stopped after the search by SBU,” it said in a statement.

It also said the company would cooperate with the state on construction of new roads and various social projects.

ArcelorMittal’s Ukrainian plant sold 4.5 million tonnes of metal products last year, according to the company’s website.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; editing by David Evans)