Steelmaker ArcelorMittal said on Thursday that an EU pilot project central to its deal with the government to save jobs at a site in northwestern France was not viable today for technical reasons, but it was not permanently ditching the scheme.

ArcelorMittal earlier withdrew its application for the ULCOS project, which the government hoped could ensure a future for two idled blast furnaces at the Florange site.

"(This) is perfectly coherent with what is in the agreement signed with the French government," ArcelorMittal said in a statement after the European Commission said it had pulled its bid for ULCOS. "This in no way means the ULCOS project is being abandoned."

(Reporting by Catherine Bremer; editing by Daniel Flynn)