Roland Bastian (Arcelor Mittal): A Sector Still Alive and Kicking
According to Roland Bastian, Head of Country, Luxembourg, says understanding and meeting customer expectations remains essential to ensuring the supply of quality products. He explains how ArcelorMittal's business contributes to the constant renewal of this old but essential sector.
Briefly describe ArcelorMittal's business today
ArcelorMittal is the world leader in steelmaking and mining, with a presence in 60 countries and an industrial footprint in 18. Our mission is to produce safe and sustainable steel. We are also the world's fifth-largest producer of iron ore and metallurgical coal. In 2016, we generated sales of $56.8 billion. Our global headquarters are in Luxembourg. In Differdange and Belval, we produce long products (beams, steel sheet piles) that offer innovative solutions to the modern construction industry. In Dudelange, ArcelorMittal produces lightweight steel solutions with high-added value for the automotive sector. And in Bissen, we manufacture various types of wire for fencing, the agricultural sector, industry, and reinforced concrete.
"Steel is the fabric of life"
How is a group like yours adapting to the current market?
The most important thing is to be proactive in anticipating customer expectations. In this respect, innovation is the best way to stand out from our competitors. We are constantly proposing and supplying steel solutions that meet our customers' needs - lighter steels for the automotive and construction industries, for example. Our strength: Flexibility. That's why innovative solutions need to be deployed not only in our product portfolio but also in our processes. We are committed to improving the efficiency and accountability of our sites in order to offer irreproachable customer service. Finally, it is still very important for us to integrate the expectations of our partners as far as possible into our strategy. The whole sector is currently in a very complex situation, particularly in Europe: We have to face up to the unfair practices of non-European steel producers, who are exerting strong pressure on prices, while the problems linked to climate change are leading to tougher industrial constraints. If we do not integrate these exogenous factors into our operations, we will not survive. We, therefore, need the support of the public authorities to defend our sector and obtain a level playing field.
What developments do you foresee in the steel sector?
As we often say at ArcelorMittal, "Steel is the fabric of life” because it is everywhere, at the heart of the modern world, from railways to cars to washing machines! As it is a material that is 100% recyclable, and highly versatile, we are convinced that steel has a great future! Thanks to innovation, we're now offering grades of the product that didn't exist ten years ago (lighter but also stronger). Today, when we look at the steel manufacturing process and the improvements we've made to it, we can say that it will remain a material of choice for decades to come.