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Nippon Steel Corp. and other mills, facing a drop in profits as iron ore prices double, should boost investment in overseas resource projects and pursue mergers to secure supplies at lower cost, a government official said Tuesday.

Steelmakers need to work with trading houses to diversify supply, including through development of low-grade ores, increase spending on exploration and tie up with mining firms, said Masaki Ishikawa, director of the iron and steel division at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

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