I was celebrating my partner’s 50th in the Kruger National Park last week, with limited access to the outside world, when the news broke about the decision of ArcelorMittal SA (Amsa) to stop carrying coal to Newcastle, in effect shutting down the country’s only big long steel business.

Amsa CEO Kobus Verster cited three main reasons for the decision to stop throwing good money after bad at the Newcastle steelworks: the moribund local economy and the enduring myth of the government’s vaunted infrastructure programme; Transnet and Eskom’s failure; and the insanity that is Captain Master Plan Patel’s creation, scrap steel’s advantage over iron ore...

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