Johannesburg - ArcelorMittal SA [JSE:ACL], a unit
of the world's top steelmaker, on Wednesday reported a full-year loss due to a
drop in domestic steel sales and a decline in commercial coke sales.
Africa's biggest steelmaker said liquid steel production was
down 7% while annual capacity dropped from 8.0 million tonnes to 6.5 million
tonnes after deciding last year it was cheaper to shut three electric arc
furnaces rather than complete a project to capture emissions.
ArcelorMittal's South African operation reported a headline
loss per share of 129 cents, compared with a headline loss per share of 13
cents in the previous year.
The fourth quarter loss was substantially higher than in the
previous three months due to a seasonal drop in demand during December.
"We expect the loss making position to be reversed in
the first quarter amid signs of improved domestic sales volumes as well as
marginally higher prices," said chief executive Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita.
Revenue was up 3% to R32.2bn.
Shares in the company have been flat so far this year,
compared with a 4% rise in the JSE Top 40 - (Tradeable) [JSE:J200] index.
The company is betting on projects to build renewable power
plants, transport infrastructure and water systems to boost its earnings.
A major issue facing the South African unit is the outcome
of a dispute over iron ore prices with Kumba Iron Ore [JSE:KIO], a unit of
Anglo American [JSE:AGL].
The two firms have been at loggerheads over prices since
early 2010 after a preferential deal lapsed. An arbitration hearing will decide
if the steelmaker can keep sourcing iron ore from Kumba at a discount.
Follow Fin24 on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.