Air Liquide Mexico is investing up to $100m in the construction and operation of a new ASU for the supply of industrial gases to Altos Hornos de Mexico, S.A.B. de C.V. (AHMSA).

Just days before gasworld’s Latin America Industrial Gases Conference 2011 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and it seems that the potential held in the region’s gases business is illustrated by this major new investment.

Expected to be one of the fastest growing economies of the world, Mexico presents strong growth prospects for Air Liquide. Indeed, Michael J. Graff, President and CEO of American Air Liquide Holdings, Inc. and a member of Air Liquide Executive Committee, described the deal as ‘a tremendous opportunity’.

As one of the world’s top fifteen industrial gas markets, Mexico shows attractive growth and market potential supported by robust industrial and manufacturing activity in its northern region that is expected to expand throughout its interior states.

Against this setting, Air Liquide Mexico (a new subsidiary of American Air Liquide Holdings, Inc.) is investing $100m (more than €70m) to construct and operate a new ASU for the supply of industrial gases to AHMSA.

AHMSA, one of Mexico’s largest steel producers, is a fully integrated steel company whose production ranges from raw materials to finished higher value-added products. The new ASU will be located in Monclova, Coahuila, Mexico, approximately 200km northwest of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon.

It is also a significant investment from another perspective, as well as in terms of its sizeable monetary value. The contract represents Air Liquide’s entry into the Mexican industrial gas market, with the new ASU delivering a production capacity of 1,700 tons per day of oxygen – providing increased capacity for AHMSA’s current and future operations, as well as providing additional liquid oxygen, nitrogen and argon supply for the surrounding industrial merchant market.

Graff, said in a statement, “Our entry into Mexico provides a tremendous opportunity for us to establish presence in a strategic market region. It is particularly rewarding to achieve this milestone while working with AHMSA, who has created one of the largest steel production operations of its kind.”

Luis Zamudio Miechielsen, CEO of AHMSA and Subsidiaries, added, “We are very pleased to be working with Air Liquide. This agreement celebrates a new relationship for our companies and we are glad to witness Air Liquide’s commitment and investment towards the future economic growth of Mexico and the region.”