AMSA declares force majeure after Newcastle furnace breakdown

ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA) has temporarily shut down its Newcastle Works blast furnace after the unit suffered thermal damage and broke down. As a result, the firm has declared force majeure. The unit’s repairs will take an estimated three weeks, a spokesperson for the steelmaker said.

“Every effort is being made to resolve the problem quickly and to restart production as soon as possible to limit the impact on customers,” the spokesperson says. In the meantime, the placing of the Vaal (Vereeniging) Melt Shop into care and maintenance has been delayed until the end of October 2020 to absorb some of the Newcastle production.

AMSA’s steel sales plummeted by 47% year-on-year in the first half of 2020 to 1.15 million tons, with local sales down by 40% to 946 000 tons. Blast furnace C at the Vanderbijlpark works and the Vereeniging electric arc furnace remained idled. The firm has announced a large-scale labour reorganisation in terms of Section 189(3) of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 due to the impact of the pandemic.