EU fines chemicals firms for price fixing

BRUSSELS: The European Union's top competition regulator announced Wednesday that it had fined nine chemicals suppliers for price fixing and operating a cartel.

"The European Commission has imposed a total of 61,120,000 euros in fines on nine companies... for violating the (EU) ban on cartels and restrictive business practices," the regulator, the commission, said in a statement.

It said the companies fixed prices and shared markets for calcium carbide powder, calcium carbide granulates and magnesium granulates in a substantial part of Europe's economic area between 2004 and 2007.

Brussels named the nine as: Almamet, Donau Chemie, Ecka Granulate, Holding Slovenske elektrarne (for its former subsidiary TDR Metalurgija), Novacke chemicke zavody and its former parent 1.garantovana, SKW Stahl-Metallurgie and former parent companies Evonik Degussa and Arques industries.

Calcium carbide is a compound used to make acetylene gas, a common industrial gas used in metal work. It is also used as a dehydrating agent and in the manufacture of graphite and hydrogen.

Both it and magnesium powder can be used to boost the quality of steel.