SEOUL, Jan. 30 (Yonhap) — South Korean steelmakers have launched talks with shipbuilders over prices of thick steel plates, which are mainly used for shipbuilding, people familiar with the matter said Saturday.

POSCO, the country’s largest steelmaker, said it is pushing to raise prices of thick steel plates — a key material that accounts for about one-fifth of shipbuilding costs — by up to 15 percent.

The move is meant to reflect increased costs of iron ore, one of the main raw materials used in steel production. A hike in raw materials could eat into steelmakers’ bottom lines.

The price of iron ore jumped to US$157.42 per ton on Jan. 28 from $93.71 in the same period of last year, according to data from Korea Resources Corporation.

This file photo shows a POSCO factory in Gwangyang, South Jeolla Province. (Yonhap)