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There will be champagne corks flying all over Vanderbijlpark as ArcelorMittal returns to profit after a string of losses that is rivalled only by the performance of the Italian rugby team. There may also be a few sighs of relief in Kensington Palace Gardens, home to Lakshmi Mittal and assorted relatives, who remains in possession of a bean or two but has seen his ranking on the various global rich lists plummet off the podium in recent years. The return to profitability comes on the back of higher international steel prices, lower costs and higher sales volumes, a punchy trifecta that helped headline profits bounce and come in just shy of R1bn after the R2.5bn loss in the previous year. The group launched into a business transformation programme towards the end of 2017 aimed at addressing cost reduction, improving efficiencies and debottlenecking steel production at all its sites, and the benefits are flowing through to the bottom line, with capacity utilisation up from 81% to 84% a...

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