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Just under 2,000 people flocked to the Rockhal on Thursday morning, not there to see a big concert usually associated with the venue, but to take part in the ArcelorMittal celebration of 100 years of steel making in Luxembourg, “A century of history and innovation”.
The rather special event was graced with the presence of Luxembourg's Grand Duke and Duchess as well as speeches from ArcelorMittal Luxembourg's President Michel Wurth, Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker and the CEO of ArcelorMittal himself, Lakshmi Mittal.
“Your presence today at this celebration is an act of recognition for the tens of thousands of steel workers who have dedicated a major part of their professional life to this industry that has transformed our country”, began Michel Wurth in his speech. “More than any country in the world, in the course of the last century, has the steel industry been as important as it has been in little Luxembourg”.
Indeed over the past 100 years since 1911, Arbed that then became Arcelor, finally merging with Mittal Steel to become ArcelorMittal, has been producing steel in Luxembourg on a grand scale at a greater rate per capita than any other country in the world.
Although the steel industry has been through rocky times in Luxembourg, including 2 world-wars and a couple of recessions, it still remains today, although somewhat less than in the past, the country's top industry.
This was echoed by Jean-Claude Juncker when he took to the stage.”Luxembourg considers the steel industry as the fourth national colour,” he stated. “The country owes a lot to Arbed, Acelor and ArcelorMittal” he continued before also paying homage to the company's past and present employees.
“Producing steel permitted Luxembourg to stand out from being a little country, to become a little “big” country” he reflected, before concluding that Luxembourg steel was “music from the furnace”.
Lakshmi Mittal repeated much of the praise the two speakers before him conveyed. “It is nearly impossible to find someone in Luxembourg who does not have a relative who has worked at some point in the steel industry”, he observed. “Without steel, the Luxembourg that we know today would not exist”. In his overall analysis of the steel industry Mittal stated “Luxembourg remains the highest per capita producer of steel in the world”.
Mittal then pointed out significant world-wide landmarks that include Luxembourg steel in the projects namely the One World Trade Center in New York, and the “global icon for steel” being constructed in London for the 2012 Olympic Games known as the Orbit tower. “Steel is often hidden, but this time it will be at the centre of the show”, he said proudly, before concluding, “I believe that steel making in Luxembourg has a strong future and we should look forward to the next 100 years. Many thanks!”