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ArcelorMittal South Africa says Saldanha steel plant will keep operating

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – ArcelorMittal South Africa’s Saldanha plant will keep operating, its chairman said on Wednesday, after the facility was placed under review earlier this year due to low steel prices and rising costs.

The plant, north of Cape Town is the newest in the company’s fleet and was opened in 1998 to focus specifically on steel exports, but low steel prices and high electricity and transport costs made it unprofitable last year.

“As the board, we are comfortable that we will have a Saldanha that is a good, healthy, performing business for a long period,” said ArcelorMittal South Africa Chairman Mpho Makwana.

The weaker rand and a pickup in West African steel demand have since ensured the plant’s viability, said acting Chief Executive Dean Subramanian.

South Africa’s currency lost about a quarter of its value from end of May last year until now, providing relief to some of the nation’s exporters.

Subramanian and Makwana were speaking at the release of report on ArcelorMittal’s contribution to South Africa’s economy, which also stated that the plant was responsible for 16 percent of the steel produced in Africa’s most industrialised country.

ArcelorMittal will start maintenance at Saldanha in August, which Subramanian said would increase the plant’s life by up to five years.


(Reporting by TJ Strydom; Editing by James Macharia)

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Sinosteel cedes half its chrome claims in Zimbabwe to state

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HARARE (Reuters) – China’s Sinosteel Corp Ltd’s business in Zimbabwe has ceded half its mining claims to the government, complying with Harare’s demands to chrome producers to give up some of their claims, a company official said on Tuesday.

The Southern African nation holds the world’s second largest deposits of chrome, which is smelted to produce ferrochrome, a raw material used in the making of stainless steel.

Zimbabwe’s mines minister last year asked Sinosteel’s Zimasco and Zimbabwe Alloys, which owned 80 percent of all chrome mining claims, to release some ground for distribution to new investors. The companies were owned by Anglo American until 2006.

The government has previously said it wants to redistribute some claims to several local investors as part of its black economic empowerment drive and would not pay compensation.

Zimasco held 45,900 hectares of claims before giving up half to the government, Clara Sadomba, the company’s general manager for administration told Reuters.

“It is accurate regarding Zimasco in that we have indeed ceded 50 percent of our chrome claims to the government,” said Sadomba.

Zimbabwe Alloys officials would not say whether they had also given up some of the company’s claims.

Zimbabwe holds more than 950 million in chrome reserves, according to ministry of mines data.

In 2014 Zimbabwe produced 260,000 tonnes of high-carbon ferrochrome, which was 2.3 percent of global output. Zimasco produced 68 percent of Zimbabwe’s ferrochrome in 2014.


(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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South Africa considering emergency steel tariffs: WTO

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GENEVA/JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa is considering imposing emergency tariffs on some iron and steel imports, it said in a filing to the World Trade Organization published on Monday.

South Africa’s steel industry body requested the temporary trade barrier because a surge in import volumes had caused the industry “serious injury” in the form of lower sales, output, market share and capacity utilisation, the filing said.

It blamed a global steel glut and measures by other countries to protect their steelmakers, as well as new investments by current steel importers, which meant South Africa could expect further increases of imports, the filing said.

The analysis was based on data from ArcelorMittal South Africa, which accounts for 70 percent of local production of the affected goods.

South Africa’s steel sector is facing catastrophe and ArcelorMittal may have to close down if the government does not act soon, labour union Solidarity said.

“If there are no concrete plans on the table to assist the struggling steel industry by the end of April, the primary steel industry in South Africa will perish,” said Solidarity’s steel spokesman Marius Croucamp. Another steelmaker, Evraz Highveld Steel and Vanadium, shut its doors in February, shedding around 2,200 jobs in the process. South African trade authorities indicated earlier that they would decide in June whether to aggressively protect steel manufacturers, Solidarity said, but this would be much too late according to the union. ArcelorMittal last month said it would raise steel prices from April as it tries to stabilise its business after heavy losses due to competition from cheap imports. South Africa last year slapped a 10 percent tariff on imported steel, but the emergency tariff, which would not apply to imports of stainless steel or silicon electrical steel, would provide much greater protection.


(Reporting by Tom Miles and TJ Strydom; editing by John Stonestreet)


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