ArcelorMittal SA to close 2 mills – cutting 400 jobs

ArcelorMittal SA CEO Paul O'Flaherty
ArcelorMittal SA CEO Paul O’Flaherty

(Reuters) — ArcelorMittal South Africa is planning to shut two mills and is reviewing operations at its largest plant, it said on Monday, as the money-losing unit of the world’s biggest steelmaker struggles with weak demand and lower prices.

SA last week raised the import tariff on steel to 10 percent, the maximum level allowed by the World Trade Organisation, to be in line with its steel-making peers. ArcelorMittal said in a statement that trading conditions have continued to worsen since it started a review of its steel business in July, adding that the higher import duty will only bring relief over the medium to long term.

The company said it had started discussions with unions about the closure of two mills — cutting as many as 400 jobs, at its plant in Vereeniging, about 60 km south of Johannesburg.

Operations at the company’s largest plant, in the nearby town of Vanderbijlpark, continues to be unprofitable and will be reviewed before the end of October, the firm said: “The company will first consider implementing alternatives before retrenchments are implemented, as a last resort.”

ArcelorMittal has also launched applications with SA’s state-run international trade commission to impose anti-dumping duties on cheap Chinese steel.