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ArcelorMittal prepares for final decision on long-steel operations

VANDERBIJLPARK - ArcelorMittal SA (Amsa) expects to make a final decision by August on mothballing its long-steel operations, with 3,500 direct and contractor jobs at its Vereeniging and Newcastle plants in the balance. CEO Kobus Verster highlighted the daunting challenges of a sluggish long-steel market in South Africa, reflected in a sharp 25% drop in Amsa's share price this year. In November, Amsa's contemplation of closing its long-products business rattled economies in Vanderbijlpark and Newcastle, citing Transnet rail freight issues, market dynamics, and unreliable power. Short-term measures included port and rail improvements, with optimism buoyed by the government's decision not to extend the scrap steel export ban. While progress is noted in initiatives outlined to salvage the division, Verster emphasized the complexity of challenges. The decision deadline looms amid ongoing engagements with stakeholders, with Amsa unwavering on the necessity for tangible impacts over promises. If approved, long-term strategies entail securing iron ore supply contracts and strategic investments for sustainable operations.

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