INTERVIEW-Germany's Cronimet plans UK titanium expansion

HAMBURG, June 1 (Reuters) - German metals trader and processor
Cronimet has purchased British ferro-titanium producer Metals &
Alloys International Ltd and plans to expand the company, Cronimet
joint chief executive officer Juergen Pilarsky said on Wednesday.

It was planned to expand production at Welshpool-based Metals & Alloys
from 3,000 tonnes a year to 4,000 tonnes this year and 5,000 in 2006,
he told Reuters.

Ferro-titanium is used in steel production.

The purchase price was not being revealed.

"We are still examining what form the investment could take but it is
possible than an additional furnace will be installed at Welshpool,"
he said.

Privately owned Cronimet, based in Karlsruhe, is involved in trading
and processing secondary raw materials for the steel industry such
as ferro-alloys, primary metals and scrap.

"We are expanding along the value-addition chain," he said. "We have
long traded and purchased titanium scrap.

"We have marketed this to producers of ferro-titanium who in turn sold
to the steel works. Now we are processing and marketing more ourselves.

"We have our network of scrap trading companies in Europe which
enables us to generate the volumes of titanium scrap required to
increase production."

The group trades around one million tonnes of metals and scrap
annually in Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa including
ferro-alloys, non-ferrous metals and minor metals.

The British deal is its second major international expansion project
in around six months. In January it paid around $132 million for a
controlling shareholding in Armenian molybdenum and copper mine ZMMK.
Molybdenum is largely used in stainless steel production.

The British and Armenian investments were a reaction to opportunities
rather than a specific international expansion drive, he said.

"On both occasions suitable opportunities came forward," he said.

"We have had a joint venture in Armenia for many years which processes
concentrates from the mine into ferro molybdenum and which in turn
markets the finished product to steel works.

"As the privatisation of the mine was announced we decided to secure
our raw materials supplies."

06/01/05 11:22 ET