JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Steel producer ArcelorMittal South Africa ACLJ.J said on Tuesday it would restart the second blast furnace at its Vanderbijlpark operations in January due to higher steel demand.
Africa's biggest steel producer, which is majority-owned by Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal SA MT.LU, said steel demand had increased quicker than expected due to lockdown-affected construction projects now being completed, increased sales at retail outlets and running at lower stock levels prior to the nationwide lockdown.
The company decided to idle the Blast Furnace C at Vanderbijlpark and the Vereeniging Electric Arc Furnace in July until demand recovered.
ArcelorMittal South Africa said the restart of the furnace would add around 600,000 tonnes of additional annual flat steel production volumes but exports would still be required at the current demand expectations for 2021.
South Africa imposed a nationwide lockdown in March which required furnaces and underground mines to temporally halt operations. Government has since eased restrictions in phases allowing the reopening of the economy and resumption of industry.
Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg, editing by Louise Heavens
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