ArcelorMittal Newcastle, a key player in the local economy and a major employer in the area has navigated through two strikes and successfully averted what the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) had ominously termed the “mother of all strikes” by May 2023.
The first strike unfolded in February 2023, followed by NUMSA’s threat of a strike at the beginning of May 2023. Subsequently, the second strike occurred towards the end of May 2023.
Given the significant impact of the steel giant on Newcastle’s economy and the livelihoods of numerous residents, the question arose: How is ArcelorMittal Newcastle rebounding from the turbulent start to the year, and what lies ahead for the remainder of 2023?
Speaking with Newcastillian News, Tami Didiza, representing ArcelorMittal South Africa, shed light on the recent wage negotiations between ArcelorMittal and NUMSA, highlighting a favourable outcome for both the company and its employees.
Didiza stated, although it was agreed to exclude some issues from the agreement, these will be pursued at the corporate labour forum. At the heart of the issues to be discussed, is that ArcelorMittal South Africa pays well above the industry norm. Yet, its productivity levels do not justify this.
Discussing future prospects for both ArcelorMittal South Africa and ArcelorMittal Newcastle Works, Didiza emphasised the company’s commitment to sustainable growth through its Transformation for Sustainable Growth strategy, initiated in 2018.
“The company’s current focus is on Sustainable Growth. At the upcoming interim 2023 financial results announcement, the market will be updated on the company’s planned investment programme for the next few years.”
Furthermore, Didiza highlighted the management’s dedication to critically evaluating the business case for the continued existence of Newcastle.
He explained, “The conclusion reached was that it does have a business case, and indeed an investment case, meaning that ArcelorMittal South Africa will continue as a proud citizen of Newcastle for the foreseeable future. Investment has to be earned. However, there are still aspects within the business that are performing sub-optimally and need to be assertively addressed.”
In early 2023, Didiza shared that the Longs Optimisation Programme was launched, focusing on optimising the company’s footprint, enhancing mill efficiencies, improving customer profitability, optimising logistics, and addressing energy related challenges.
This initiative encompasses not only Newcastle but also operations in Vereeniging, Pretoria, and Emalahleni.
With this in mind, Didiza stressed, “Having invested a massive R500 million in the interim campaign refurbishment of the Newcastle blast furnace, attention has now turned to the progressive refurbishment of its coke making capabilities, which were more badly affected than initially thought as a result of the enforced turn down actions due to the Covid Lockdowns.”
Looking ahead, Didiza expressed excitement about contemplated future investments, which will be part of the market update when the interim 2023 results are announced.
Leaving you with some positive news this evening, be sure to leave your comments in the section below.