British Indian magnate Sanjeev Gupta’s Liberty House Group unveiled plans for a new steel super-plant powered by renewable energy in the UK. Under the plans, Gupta Family Group Alliance companies, which includes Liberty House and family firm SIMEC, will turn their adjacent Newport sites in Wales into a 2 million tonne- a-year ‘Greensteel’ facility in the UK. “Historically Newport has been one of the country’s most important steel-making locations so it’s very appropriate that this is the springboard for our green steel plans.
If we can make steel competitively in the UK, we can generate potentially hundreds of thousands of jobs in the manufacturing sector nationwide,” said Gupta, Liberty House executive chairman, who is also in the running to acquire Tata Steel’s UK units based on a similar GreenSteel strategy. He led a fact-finding visit to Liberty’s 1.2 million tonne-a-year rolling mill and SIMEC’s adjacent 396 MW Uskmouth Power Station in Newport this week. Newport MPs Jessica Morden and Paul Flynn and Assembly Members John Griffiths and Jayne Bryant were briefed on how the plants would help realise the vision for a sustainable steel sector, powered by renewable energy. Morden is MP for Newport East which includes both Llanwern Steelworks and the SIMEC and Liberty plants.
The firm intends to install 2 million tonnes of liquid steel-making capacity at Newport and almost double the existing rolling capacity at the site. At the same time, as part of its GreenSteel strategy, SIMEC aims to power the steel plant by converting its existing coal-fired power-station to eco-friendly biomass generation. Longer term it will develop a centre of excellence for renewable energy that includes various forms of green power, including waste-to-energy and tidal lagoon power in the adjacent estuary. All of this can provide low-cost, low-carbon fuel sources to power a steel industry which in turn can be made more competitive and sustainable through recycling and upcycling of Britain’s growing mountain of scrap, the company claims. A recent University of Cambridge report predicted that the UK’s supply of scrap will rise from 10 million to 20 million tonnes a year within a decade.
At present 70 per cent of Britain’s scrap steel is melted abroad, because of high power prices, but melting at home instead would generate thousands of new jobs. Following significant investments, SIMEC reopened Uskmouth Power Station and Liberty restarted the adjacent steel rolling mill in 2015 both of which were mothballed by previous owners. At present the two sites employ over 200 people with plans for hundreds more when SIMEC rolls out its energy park plan and Liberty recommences the melting of scrap steel at Newport. The Newport sites are part of the Liberty’s nationwide network employing a total of over 1,500 people, which also includes steel making and engineering facilities in Tredegar in the West Midlands region of England, and Scotland.