South African media reported that ArcelorMittal South Africa will increase output from its Vaal Meltshop electric arc furnace in the short term to help address prevailing steel shortages, with the possibility of maintaining these levels based on future demand. ArcelorMittal South Africa CEO Mr Kobus Verster said "With the Vaal Meltshop fully operational and supplementing our three blast furnaces in Newcastle and Vanderbijlpark, we expect that we will be more than able to meet the steel requirements in South Africa and neighbouring countries in the coming months.
The steel demand had hit a slump in 2020, with Covid-19 lockdowns contributing to the low domestic demand. ArcelorMittal responded to the downward trend in July last year by temporarily idling furnaces at Vanderbijlpark and Vereeniging until demand for steel had recovered.
The producer said placing the Vaal Meltshop under care and maintenance would have potentially led to some 85 job losses, while keeping the plant running could add jobs.