Evraz has signed a manufacturing agreement with ArcelorMittal.
Johannesburg - Business rescue practitioners for Evraz Highveld Steel and Vanadium, South Africa’s second largest steel producer which went bust amid the influx of cheap imports, on Tuesday said that 13 percent of monies owed to its 2000 retrenched employees had been paid.

Evraz filed for business rescue in 2015 and had its listing on the JSE suspended, following an extremely depressed steel market, operational difficulties and sustained financial losses.

“Employees have been paid approximately 13 percent (R3.5 million) of the total amount owed to them. The last payment to employees was made on April 12, 2017,” the practitioners said.

Trade union Solidarity’s sector co-ordinator, Cornelius van Leeuwen, also confirmed that the payment of the retrenchment packages was in line with original plans that the business rescue practitioners had.

“Part of the agreement with the business rescue practitioners was that by November 2016 the company should pay each employee 10percent of their retrenchment packages, and after that the company was expected to pay the difference as money trickled in,” Van Leeuwen said.

The practitioners also said that Evraz structural mill was up and running after the company’s subsidiary Highveld Structural Mill signed a manufacturing agreement with ArcelorMittal South Africa (Amsa), South Africa’s biggest steel producer last December.

Read also: Evraz inks deal with ArcelorMittal

The deal has seen Amsa deliver 21 000 tons of input material a month for processing into heavy steel products at the Witbank based structural mill was expected to be in place for two years, with the option to extend for a further year.

The structural mill was the only plant on the African continent that was capable of producing structural steel products, including railway lines.

Van Leeuwen said that the deal was a positive development for the local Witbank community and South Africa as a whole, following the retrenchments.

“A lot had happened that resulted in Evraz going into business rescue. They [business rescue practitioners] could have cut up the structural mill into pieces and say let us liquidate the entire business and sell the mill as scrap metal, but they did not in the interest of the economy,” said Van Leeuwen.

At the time of the signing of the agreement, Solidarity’s deputy general secretary Marius Croucamp said in December that not only was this agreement a boost for the local community, but it would also be an encouraging boost for the South African economy insofar as the country would manufacture its own structural steel.

According to Croucamp, the agreement reached is a two-year agreement with the option of extending it by another year. “The number of employees that have to be appointed for the purposes of the agreement will be determined earlier in the new year,” Croucamp explained.

The joint business rescue practitioners said they continued to engage with buyers on several of the company’s strategic assets.

Highveld and the business rescue practitioners said previously they had engaged with 250 interested parties regarding various assets.