British Indian steel tycoon revives Scotland’s steel industry

By: | Published: September 28, 2016 9:14 PM

Indian-origin businessman Sanjeev Gupta led Liberty House Group today reopened steelworks it had acquired in Scotland from Tata Steel earlier this year.

Sanjeev Gupta founder of Liberty House Group. (Reuters)Sanjeev Gupta founder of Liberty House Group. (Reuters)

Indian-origin businessman Sanjeev Gupta led Liberty House Group today reopened steelworks it had acquired in Scotland from Tata Steel earlier this year.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon officially marked the restart of the Dalzell plant at Motherwell near Glasgow, which was rescued by Gupta’s firm in April following its closure in December 2015 amid a worldwide steel industry crisis.

“This is a fantastic day for Dalzell workers, for Motherwell and for Scotland’s steel industry. Restarting steel production has only been possible thanks to the tremendous team effort of everyone involved in the steel taskforce to find a viable future for this site, meaning workers here in Lanarkshire can once again produce world-class products,” Sturgeon said at the launch ceremony.

“Liberty House are seizing an exciting opportunity and the Scottish government and its agencies will continue to work with Sanjeev Gupta and his team to ensure a successful future in Scotland,” she added.

Liberty has spent the last five months rebuilding the workforce and recommissioning equipment at the huge site, which includes the UK’s largest and most versatile plate mill.

Dalzell is the last major steelworks in Scotland and, over several generations, has provided Britain with the tough steel plate used in industries such as shipbuilding, construction, mining, oil production and heavy vehicle manufacture.

Gupta, executive chairman of Liberty House, described the re-opening as a first step for the group in Scotland, adding that he aims to expand his company’s investment there in pursuit of its GreenSteel strategy for a competitive, low- carbon and sustainable steel industry.

“We promised we would get this important plant open again by the autumn and today we are proud to be fulfilling that promise,” he said.

He also disclosed that the neighbouring Clydebridge works at Cambuslang in Scotland would come back on stream in due course as market conditions allowed.

Liberty has already recruited around 120 staff for Dalzell, comprising many former employees who have returned, as well as those new to the industry. It is hoped employment will increase to over 200 within 18 months, as production rises in response to market demand.

The reopened plant will be targeting Britain’s 700,000 tonne-a-year market for plate steel, which is estimated to be growing at the rate of 3 per cent a year.

The plant has a full production capacity of between 400,000 and 500,000 tonnes a year.

At a local level it is estimated the restart of Dalzell will be worth roughly 15 million pounds a year to the economy around Motherwell, both in wages and supply contracts awarded to local businesses.

Jon Bolton, chief executive of Liberty Steel UK Plates & UK Steel Development, said: “Restarting this mill only nine months after production was halted has been a tremendous achievement. We now intend to ramp production up as quickly as the market will allow.”

Liberty is part of the global GFG Alliance, an association between businesses owned by Sanjeev Gupta and Parduman Gupta.

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