Chairman’s Report – Annual Review : Charles Cammell

Charles Cammell, the current Chairman of the Sassda board, who has held the position for the past three years, presented at the June AGM this year where a new main committee was appointed. Charles has stood at the forefront of the association through many changes in its recent years – the most notable being the establishment of the current funding model to ensure that the association remains pro-competitive and financially stable, and the renewed focus on establishing itself as a world-class association.


“Three years ago, after having served for many years as a director of sassda, I was privileged to have been voted in as the chairman of Sassda at our AGM. It has certainly been an interesting time for both our industry and our economy. Whilst so much has changed, so much has remained the same for our industry.

Our political landscape changed dramatically in January of this year and we, as a country, entered a period which has been called “Ramaphori”. Suddenly our economy was on fire post Zuma – demand for stainless steel seemed to improve. In our monthly surveys we saw an improvement in business expectations in January and February.

Sadly, this situation has not turned into improvements in demand. The harsh realities of the severely damaged South African economy are being felt now. Whilst I do not want to sound pessimistic, this is the time for us as an industry to tighten our belts and streamline our businesses. We have, as a country, a lot going for us but will have to weather the storm and consequences of an economy that has been plundered and pillaged. This recovery will, in my mind, take some time and we need to preserve capacity to meet this demand for the future. My hope is that you, like me, plan to be around to reap the benefits.

In my review last year, I touched on a few items and unsurprisingly many of them remain extremely relevant:

  • Trump – Now we are talking aboutrade wars, duties on steel products and retaliation against unfair trade practices. The implementation of these duties has certainly made the global steel producers who were exposed to the US market search elsewhere – South Africa, a small market, is suddenly attractive to the world producers.
  • National Strike 2017 – Whilst this did not happen the anticipated chaos as well as the negotiated 3-year increase percentages certainly resulted in both job losses as well as business closures.
  • Zuptas/Zuma –  The publishing of “the Presidents Keepers” – by Jacques Pauw certainly raised the profile on the capture of the SOE’s. The legacy left behind – Eskom, Transnet, SAA, Treasury and in fact most arms of Government left us staggered. We will, as South Africans, be living with the consequences for years to come as the new ANC leadership attempts to fix these broken entities.
  • Commodity costs – last AGM we were talking to softening global commodity costs and in this one we can reflect on a 12-month period where these strengthened dramatically.
  • Nickel – a low of $8 766/t to a high of $15 683 in May this year. Chrome – a low of $1.125/lb to $1.42/lb at present with some downward movement expected.
  • Exchange rates – These drive our raw material costs and have fluctuated so wildly that we have seen the Rand cost of 304 increase by more than 23% over this period.
  • Guptagate, Trillian, KPMG, Mc Kinsey etc. are all symbols of poor governance. This focus on governance is an area Sassda’s main committee and board take very seriously.

Later this year Sassda will celebrate excellence at our biennial Stainless Steel Awards. This formal event recognises the focus, talent and “brilliance” of our members. We hope that all participants in the stainless steel industry will enter or help identify potential entrants to the awards.

In closing Charles thanked the Sassda main committee and board for its support as well as Sassda executive director John Tarboton and the Sassda team. He wished the incoming board and main committee every success in the coming years. ”