Belfast Telegraph

Steel firm chairman calls for 'radical' reshape of 'unsustainable' industry

A steel company official has set out plans for a "radical" reshape of the struggling industry to make it competitive again.

Sanjeev Gupta, chairman of the Liberty House Group called for the sector to invest in facilities for melting and recycling the country's "growing mountain" of scrap steel, powered by renewable energy.

The move would mean the introduction of modern electric arc furnaces, in combination with the continued production of primary steel in blast furnaces, he said.

Liberty also announced it had started recruiting workers for the newly reopened Dalzell and Clydebridge steel plants in Lanarkshire, which it bought from Tata in April.

The company said it hoped to re-employ some ex-Tata workers who lost their jobs when the plants were mothballed last October.

The first recruitment phase aims to fill up to 100 posts, with more expected in the new year.

Jon Bolton, chief executive of the division covering the two plants, said: "This moment marks a significant milestone in the process of bringing the steel business in Scotland back to life.

"It is a just reward for the dedication of the skilled workers who had to leave the business and it also presents an opportunity for new employees to join the Liberty family."

Over the past six months the firm has saved more than 1,500 jobs at steel plants in Wales and the West Midlands, and it is now looking to re-establish the Scottish plate operations with a new business model, gradually restoring the jobs lost over recent months.

Mr Gupta said the struggling UK steel industry now supplied only 20% of Britain's steel demand, and was in a "precarious and unsustainable" position.

He said: "We need to look at the present challenge as a great opportunity to reshape the industry so that it can be successful again."

Tata continues to assess bids for its UK business, with thousands of jobs resting on its decision.