UK Construction Media

Tata Steel unable to guarantee future of Port Talbot plant

News   •   Jul 13, 2016 10:06 BST

The future of Port Talbot plant remains uncertain, as Tata talks with ThyssenKrupp about more sustainable solutions.

Tata Steel confirmed on Sunday that it is in talks with ThyssenKrupp, Germany’s biggest steelmaker, with critics fearing that a merger would mean the end of Port Talbot steelworks.

Group Executive, Koushik Chatterjee, has refused to guarantee that Port Talbot will remain open and said Tata was looking for alternatives for its European operations. He said Tata wanted to find a “sustainable solution for Port Talbot” and urged workers to “continue to work as hard as they always do” but made no promises.

He said: “The vulnerabilities of the global steel industry are very significant in the context of massive over-capacity…

“I think every business location has some degree of risks as far as future sustainability is concerned.

“And therefore our view is that we need to ensure that we build a sustainable, profitable business enterprise at each of our locations, whether it is in India or whether it is in Europe or in south east Asia…

“Therefore I think it is important to look at it from the prism of a competitive business rather than sitting on any firm guarantees because at the end of the day the volatility of the market, the risks [to] performance, [have] to be mitigated by building a structurally competitive business and that’s what we’re focused [on] in all our sites; [the] Port Talbot supply chain is no exception to this.”

The Port Talbot plant in Wales employs more than 4,000 workers, and over 2,000 more at its speciality business in Hartlepool, Rotherham and Stocksbridge – workers who have been left with a lingering uncertainty of the future.

Stephen Kinnock, the Labour MP whose constituency covers Port Talbot, said: “Steelworkers and their families have been put through hell over the last weeks and months, and they will be forgiven for greeting today’s announcement with a degree of scepticism, and concern.

“Any developments that offer the possibility of investment and engagement that would secure a sustainable future for the British steel industry are welcome, in principle. However, in practice there are serious questions to be answered around the joint venture proposal.”

The government were highly criticised for not dealing with the steel industry crisis, which later pledged to offer financial support.

Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, said the government was committed to securing the future of the steelworks in south Wales and was in “close contact” with Tata Steel.