The proposed closure of ArcelorMittal SA’s (Amsa’s) long steel production lines highlights a long-standing crisis in SA’s industrial policy. From the 1920s through the democratic era that policy in effect prioritised heavy industry. Increasingly, that approach has become politically and economically unsustainable.

Amsa originated as the state-owned Iscor in 1928. It was privatised in 1989 and in 2006 was integrated into ArcelorMittal, the international steel firm. It contributes about 5% of ArcelorMittal’s global output. The proposed downsizing will directly cost about 3,200 jobs and R10bn in sales. The effect on downstream manufacturers, which employ about 100,000 people, remains unclear. ..

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