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ArcelorMittal CEO: Global Infrastructure Is Untapped Steel Market

CNBC.com staff

ArcelorMittal wants to join the London Metal Exchange -- but not to trade steel futures. Chief Executive Lakshmi Mittal said his firm seeks membership in the LME because it will continue to be a huge buyer of commodities and alloys.

And even as ArcelorMittal grows, the falling U.S. dollar renders imports more expensive -- putting even more pressure on American rival United States Steel.

In an interview with CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, Mittal joined John Surma, chairman and CEO of U.S. Steel, to discuss the key drivers of their businesses.

Mittal pointed to infrastructure needs as the primary stimuli for the industry's next, untapped customer base.

"Infrastructure is lagging," Mittal declared. "All the countries in the world need to spend a lot of money on infrastructure. ...Even in the U.S., there is a lack of infrastructure -- we can see the problems in transportation and railways." He sees the same potential in Europe and "strong demand" for construction steel in the Middle East.

He described advances in manufacturing technology that have produced lighter, stronger and safer steel compounds for automobiles. To further those advances, he announced, "We are spending a lot of money on R&D."

Giants of Steel

Surma said that the big driver of U.S. Steel is the energy sector: "We have a large position in oil and gas tubular goods," he explained.

"New [oil] rigs are coming on and drilling deeper, and that's requiring more and more pipe, [both] seamless and welded."

Surma pointed out that his company has been fighting fire with fire -- and seeking acquisitions to counter the huge expansion of corporate peers like ArcelorMittal.

Steel Drivers