ArcelorMittal announced that it has returned to full production at its Vanderbijlpark plant in South Africa. Domestic demand has recovered sharply leading to a shortage of steel in the country. This encouraged steelmaker to restart its plant ahead of a planned resumption announced earlier. The steelmaker reignited the second blast furnace at Vanderbijlpark works on Dec 20.
In September, ArcelorMittal planned to resume production in or after January 2021 to manage the gap between supply-demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with the improvement in demand, the company ignited the furnace a month ahead of schedule.
In South Africa, steel inventories have depleted at all stages of the supply chain following the COVID-19 lockdowns, said the company’s statement.
With all three-blast furnaces operational, the company targets to outpace current domestic demand and export to neighbouring countries in the coming months. The company is cautious of the resurgence of COVID-19 infections, which can adversely impact market conditions.
In South Africa, the steelmaker also has operations in Vereeniging, Saldanha and Newcastle. ArcelorMittal has over 5.5mn mt of annual saleable steel production capacity. The company sells more than 60pc of its steel in the domestic market, while the rest is exported to sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere.