Hello. My name is Sanjeev Gupta. I run Liberty House Group.
I’d like to address everyone out there who, like me, is concerned about the future of the UK Steel industry.
The current turmoil and uncertainty in our sector presents us with a significant challenge – one that we need to address in order to safe guard its future. But this challenge also provides us with a great opportunity to re-shape our industry so that can make it successful and profitable again.
What we need is new thinking, a fresh approach, an innovative strategy that can provide a much needed change from the current status-quo. My team and I have such a strategy and I’d like to share it with you.
What are the facts? We in Britain invented modern steel making, yet today a staggering 80% of the 21 million tonnes of steel and steel products we consume every year comes from abroad. A century and a half ago we were the first to mass produce mild steel; yet over time as our raw materials diminished other countries have taken the lead.
We should not be surprised by this - it is part of globalisation. It is our responsibility as an industrial nation to constantly re-define our capabilities to keep us current in a highly competitive market.
Other countries – such as the United States in the 1980s – did take steps to remain competitive.
The Americans looked at all the steel that had already been produced. Buildings, bridges, cars - all ultimately re-cyclable. Then they supplemented their blast furnaces with arc furnaces, and today 70% of their steel consumption comes from recycled materials.
So why has recycling steel never taken root in the United Kingdom? Expensive power? Or lack of investment? Whatever the cause it has left us with over reliance on old technologies which force us to import 100% of our iron ore and coal for our blast furnaces and export the majority of our steel scrap to be re-melted in other countries so that we can buy it back again. What is more UK customers that want to buy UK steel find its price too high and are forced to rely on imports.
It is clear that today our UK steel sector is in a precarious and unsustainable position with no viable long term future. We have two options - one path continues the status quo leading inevitably to a final demise. The other leads to a new industrial renaissance.
At Liberty, we have already made our choice. We have begun an ambitious process, designed to trigger the revival of UK manufacturing: re-growing UK steel and downstream engineering products, re-invigorating the supply chain, championing the development of new sustainable sources of power, generating tens of thousands of new skilled jobs, and stimulating new sectors in the economy.
Of course the UK will continue to need some blast furnaces. But what we need even more are electric arc furnaces, small mini-mills that can be dotted around the country, next to customers, powered by low cost carbon free electricity. These mini-mills will take in the mountain of scrap steel we produce every year (up to 20 million tonne in the next 2 decades) and turn them into a range of steels and steel products.
Our strategy for achieving it is called GREENSTEEL, and it has three elements.
Liberty has an outstanding track record. In the last year we have revived 7 steel plants and re-employed over 1,500 workers. Our leadership team is composed of many of the industry’s leading executives. We have all the skills and the knowledge to to re-invent this industry.
In our view this is the only comprehensive, proven and sustainable holistic approach that will bring stability and growth to the UK Steel sector.
Thank you for listening.