After idling the furnace in July 2020, the steelmaker says demand has recovered faster than expected.
Africa’s biggest primary steel producer, which is majority-owned by Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal SA MT.LU, ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA) has said in a SENS announcement that the company has decided to restart Blast Furnace C at its Vanderbijlpark Works operations since steel demand has progressively recovered in the last two months. This follows after the company had put the furnace and its Vereeniging Electric Arc Furnace on idle in July 2020 amid low demand.
However, a recent assessment of the market showed a rise in demand resulting from construction projects in process of being completed, higher sales at retail outlets and destocking in the steel value chain prior to the lockdown. Restarting the second blast furnace at Vanderbijlpark would add around 600 000 tons of additional annual flat steel production volumes. The additional volumes were the minimum that could be added through the restart. Given current demand expectations for next year, it said exports would be required for certain of the additional volumes.
AMSA said the restart would help support the local industry as the lockdown, while necessary, had had a significant impact on the economy.
This must also be seen in the context of already flagging growth prior to the lockdown, the company announcement said.
“Now more than ever we need to take decisive steps to protect the national economy and ensure that South Africa can be put on a sustainable path of growth and development,” continued the announcement.