The announcement caused shockwaves in Italy where the deal was expcted to safeguard thousands of jobs.
But the country’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday said the decision was instead over production targets.
“The real reason for their withdrawal is that their investments are not profitable and they are demanding now that 5,000 jobs are cut. It’s unacceptable,” he said, after meeting with ArcelorMittal’s management.
If the steel giant goes ahead with its plan to pull out of the plant, the government “will not stay inert”, he added.
The prime minister hopes that following the discussion, ArcelorMittal
will return to the negotiating table “with acceptable and tenable proposals”.
began leasing the plant — with an obligation to buy it — last November, and had plans to invest 2.4 billion euro($2.7 billion) to revive it, including 1.2 billion euro to curb pollution by 2024.
The steel giant was given a period of legal immunity to bring the site up to environmental standards.