Steel maker ArcelorMittal has withdrawn its application for a European Union pilot project the French government hoped could keep two blast furnaces going at the group's Florange site in north France.

"We have been informed in a letter from ArcelorMittal that the group has decided to withdraw its bid for Florange due to technical difficulties," a European Commission spokesman said.

The bid to use Florange for the Ulcos environmentally friendly steel project was central to a deal between the French government and ArcelorMittal to secure investment in the site and save jobs threatened by the closure of the furnaces.

(Reporting by Yves Clarisse; Writing by Catherine Bremer; editing by Daniel Flynn)