Much has changed since that time and many of the past ten years have been tough for commodity and industrial companies, including steel companies. But the logic of the merger is as sound today as it was in 2006 and I am convinced it helped us to navigate this highly challenging environment and remain the world’s leading steel and mining company.
The past ten years have defined the spirit and culture of our company and showcased our resilience, our strength, our knowledge and our capability to respond swiftly. We have reshaped our asset base, we have improved our competitiveness, we have improved our safety performance, we have strengthened our balance sheet and we have invested in innovative products for the future. We have faced tough market conditions but in many ways we are a stronger company, better positioned for the future with world-class assets and a clear strategy that will enable us to outperform in all market conditions.
We are proud of the progress we have made. For our employees, critically, we have created a safer work environment. In 2007 the company had a lost time injury frequency rate of 3.1: today, it is 0.78. We will continue in our efforts to make ArcelorMittal a safer place to work, until we reach zero.
For our customers, we have delivered new and innovative steel products, supported by our world class research and development teams and facilities. Our total research and development investment since 2006 has been US$2.5bn, supporting the invention of more than 250 new types of steel. That’s why we are the leading supplier of quality steel products in all major markets - including automotive, construction, household appliances and packaging – and rated as the top technology supplier in the automotive sector.
Our global reach – which the merger delivered - brings major benefits. For our customers, it means that we offer the same quality of steel and service across the world, as well as proximity to the customer. We have strategically expanded this offering, for example through the acquisition of the Calvert downstream operation in Alabama, AM/NS Calvert, or through building the VAMA greenfield plant in China – both of which have expanded our capability to supply the automotive industry, one of our most demanding and important customers.
For our steel plants and mines, our global reach brings access to a network of in-house experts that allows for the sharing of best practice. And for the communities and countries in which we operate, it brings the economic benefits of wages and taxes paid, jobs created and supplies bought. Our economic contribution over the last ten years has been in excess of US$ 700 bn.
Looking ahead, we remain committed to maintaining our leadership position in the steel industry and striving for ever higher standards in the way we run our business and deliver value to our stakeholders. We have the platform and the programmes, with Action 2020, to deliver further structural improvement that will enable us to succeed and prosper in any environment. Our second quarter earnings announced on 29 July 2016 demonstrated not only the improved market conditions, but also the effect of the internal measures we have implemented to improve competitiveness.
Steel remains integral to the fabric of modern life and we will continue to promote and champion its use. Steelmaking is our passion and it is this passion that will continue to drive ArcelorMittal for many years to come.“