A landmark steel slab delivery from Australia this week will help trigger the growth of Liberty Steel Newport in South Wales, including the creation of new jobs.
The first in a series of shipments from Liberty’s sister plant at Whyalla, South Australia will enable the Newport mill to begin ramping up production of hot rolled coil, as it waits for the installation of its own liquid steel making furnaces.
Delivery of the 24,000-tonne cargo is a milestone in the development of a global integration strategy by Sanjeev Gupta’s metals, energy and industrials group, the GFG Alliance, which includes Liberty.
Whyalla will supply Newport with around 100,000 tonnes of slab in the first year, allowing it to boost output of coil, initially by about a third, to meet growing UK and EU demand for steel from industries such as construction and heavy engineering.
The Newport plant is also investing over £10million in the coming year to upgrade its rolling mill as part of a wider development plan that will eventually include the installation of an electric arc furnace to recycle scrap steel.
Shipments from Australia will not displace UK-made steel slab as Liberty Steel Newport is already forced to import its feedstock due to limited British slab being available from the international market. Liberty’s flagship GREENSTEEL strategy aims to address this shortage by installing 5m tonnes of steel recycling capacity in the UK within five years.
This week’s delivery, made to Liberty’s own wharf next to the Newport plant, was met at the dockside by the company’s chief executive of rolled products, VB Garg, who said: “This is a milestone in our development as a global business and shows how, by working together, steel businesses at opposite sides of the world can achieve strong mutual benefit. This shipment demonstrates that we are now part of a truly global enterprise.”
He explained that the Newport plant currently employs around 180 people and is producing about 300,000 tonnes of rolled steel a year. More people will be employed over the next year as output rises to 500,000 in 2019-20, en route to a medium-term target of one million tonnes-a-year of hot rolled coil.
Liberty intends to install electric arc furnace capacity to recycle scrap steel at Newport and to power this process with renewable energy as part of its flagship GREENSTEEL strategy for sustainable and competitive steel production in the UK.
GFG Alliance executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta said: “This is just the first major example of the global integration to come. While each part of our Group will be competitive in its own right, the global organisation, which now employs over 12,500 people, will become stronger through strategic co-operation.
“We have exciting growth plans for both Newport and Whyalla, as well as our other steel plants worldwide, and collaboration like this will be a powerful impetus for that growth,” he added.
Since being acquired by GFG in August last year, Liberty Steel Whyalla has begun its own expansion plan aimed at boosting liquid steel and slab production to 2m tonnes a year.
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