Patel disappointed by closure of Saldanha steel operation

Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, has expressed his dissatisfaction with ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA) after the steel manufactured announced it will be closing its Saldanha Works operation – with more than 1 000 jobs on the line. 

Speaking on the side lines of the Brics Trade Ministers meeting in Brazil, Patel urged management at AMSA to reconsider their decision to close the plant.

“The closure of Saldanha Works and retrenchment of workers at AMSA is a harsh blow to industrialization in the country,” he said.

“If no solution is found with Arcelor Mittal, they should consider selling the plant to ensure the country does not lose industrial capacity, and workers and communities are not displaced.”

According to Patel, the decision to close the plant comes despite significant efforts made by the government to provide AMSA with extensive support over the past few months.

“This is particularly regrettable given the energy and efforts of the government, SOEs, organised labour and others to provide support and savings to AMSA. These commitments follow significant tariff protection and localization initiatives provided to protect the steel industry from the threat of imports,” he said.

In October, AMSA agreed to suspend their restructuring process after discussions took place between government officials, stakeholders and union lobbies.

In attempts to prevent job losses the government secured more than half a billion rand in annualized savings to avoid closure of the steel factory. 

However, although AMSA has decided to proceed with closing the decade’s old steel operation, Patel remains hopeful.

“We urge AMSA to continue to work with the government and other social partners to reverse this decision and find solutions which can keep Saldanha Works in operation and its workers in employed.”

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