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“I would say that the number should be reduced by 30-40%,” commercial vp Sérgio Leite told analysts during a conference call on Tuesday February 19.

Slab shipments in 2012 were 138% higher than the 355,000 tonnes sold in 2011.

Of the total, 709,000 tonnes were exported, up from only 244,000 tonnes in the previous year.

The main reason behind the decrease was expected higher production of finished steel, Leite said.

The company recently commissioned a new 2.3 million-tpy hot rolling mill at its Cubatão works in São Paulo state that lifted its total finished steel capacity to 9.5 million tpy from 7.2 million tpy, matching its 9.5 million-tpy crude steel capability.

Usiminas did not break down its slab export figures by country, but statistics from Brazil’s foreign trade ministry show that 533,975 tonnes of the total 4.94 million tonnes of slab exports in 2012 were produced in São Paulo state, where the company is the sole slab producer.

Shipments from São Paulo were mainly destined for South Korea (150,966 tonnes), Mexico (129,239 tonnes), the USA (79,265 tonnes), Thailand (48,927 tonnes) and India (41,655 tonnes).

The remainder of the company’s exported slabs were produced in Minas Gerais state, but it is not possible to calculate its attributable sales since Gerdau Açominas also produces slab in that state.