ArcelorMittal on Newcastle’s blast furnace reline and its local benefits

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ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA) Newcastle Works is officially starting the relining of its blast furnace which is set to positively impact the Newcastle economy.

During a press briefing in February 2022, while highlighting the company’s growth and stability for the fiscal year ended on 31 December 2021, AMSA CEO Kobus Verster explained that the steel giant was conducting an extensive maintenance program, with the Vanderbijlpark and Newcastle operations completing successful blast furnace maintenance programs in November and December 2021.

Likewise, Verster explained that AMSA was committed to investing in its assets. This included long-lead items for the Newcastle Works’ blast furnace mini-reline.

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In March 2022, AMSA pointed out that the Newcastle Works’ blast furnace was scheduled for a mini-reline, set to begin mid-April and continue into June.

With the work now preparing to begin, AMSA noted that close to 60% of the workforce being employed for the reline of Newcastle Works blast furnace is from local communities.

According to AMSA, the mini-reline, which was postponed from December 2021 due to a combination of market dynamics and the availability of appropriate skills, is intended to significantly improve production reliability and stability to enable improved delivery to the company’s customer base.

When looking at employment opportunities within the steel giant’s workforce, AMSA’s Group Manager: Stakeholder Management & Communications, Tami Didiza explained that ArcelorMittal South Africa has policies in place to hire and use local labour as far as possible in each of its operations.

He noted that while the company cannot dictate the hiring practices of its contractors, they are encouraged to use local labour where practical to fulfil their contractual obligations to the company.

“The company has always encouraged equitable processes when opportunities arise so that the entire community has a fair chance to participate,” highlighted Didiza.

With AMSA Newcastle Works determined to play its role in building the economy, ArcelorMittal South Africa’s Executive Manager; Long products – Downstream, Jacques Kotze said, “As a significant employer in the province and the country, we are mindful of our responsibility to offer employment and procurement opportunities to local communities, in a way that enables sustainable community development and which supports the government’s economic inclusivity objectives.”

He stressed that AMSA also believed that they could achieve more through constructive engagement and meaningful collaboration with local community structures to identify these opportunities.

With the steel giant now sourcing a bulk of the workforce from the local communities for the blast furnace mini-reline, what are your thoughts? 

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