Friday, 07 February 2020 10:37

Arcelor Mittal SA plans to shed hundreds of jobs as it battles low steel demand and rising costs.

CEO Kobus Verster said the Africa’s largest steelmaker could retrench 400 employees from the Newcastle operations in KwaZulu-Natal.

ArcelorMittal SA has been struggling with weak demand and rising electricity, rail and port prices. In 2019, it announced a review of its assets to cut the costs. These included the winding down of the Saldanha operations in the Western Cape, which will be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2020.

Speaking after the release of results for the year ended December 31, Verster said the company had decided not to close the Newcastle plant. “When we looked at the closure of Newcastle, we came to the conclusion that the impact of that would be substantial on the domestic market.

The steelmaker reported a headline loss of R3.26m in 2019 compared with  headline earnings of R968m the previous year. That is the largest headline loss since the 2015 financial year, when the company reported a loss of R5.37bn. In 2016, the company reported a headline loss of R2.58bn.

ArcelorMittal SA’s net borrowings increased from R475m to R3.37bn.