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SA’s steel production plunged 15.9% year on year in June to 458,000 tonnes after falling 3.5% in May to 561,000 tonnes, according to data collated by the World Steel Association. Steel production is considered an important indicator of a country’s economic health and the sharp drop in June correlates with the downgrades in SA’s debt rating. In the first five months of 2017, steel output fell a mere 0.8%. The sharp drop in steel production has affected the bottom line at steel maker ArcelorMittal SA, which said last week it expected its first-half headline losses to increase by more than 200%. The company’s results are due out on July 27. ArcelorMittal SA CEO Wim de Klerk said local steel demand was subdued despite the implementation of import duties on certain steel products and the designation of South African steel for use in state infrastructure projects. Sales of long products — for example, steel beams normally used in infrastructure projects — recorded a sales slump of 27.7% y...

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