Cambridge boost for Liberty’s bid for Tata Steel UK

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: May 06, 2016 17:22 IST
File photo of the Tata Steel plant in Port Talbot, South Wales. (Reuters)

Julian Allwood, a University of Cambridge expert in steel recycling, has joined the panel advising Liberty House in its bid for all assets of Tata Steel UK, reinforcing its perspective that melting scrap in electric arc furnaces is the future in steel production.

Liberty House’s bid was one of three submitted by the Tuesday deadline, the others being Excalibur (mainly for the Port Talbot plant) and Albion Steel (for the specialist steel unit in south Yorkshire).

The bid by Liberty is for all UK assets of Tata Steel, which is the preferred method sale by the company.

Allwood and his research team at Cambridge recently published the report “A Bright Future for UK Steel”, which concluded that the world now has more blast furnaces than it will ever need.

The report says it will be difficult for those in Britain to compete in a world with excess capacity, particularly with the newest and most modern plants being in China, and the likelihood that India will expand its steel-making capacity with new blast furnaces in light of the plentiful supply of iron ore and coal.

The report argues instead for making liquid steel in the UK from low-cost, and increasingly abundant, domestic scrap, most of which is currently exported for melting abroad.

The Cambridge team’s research found that the supply of UK scrap is projected to double from 10 million tons to 20 million tons a year over the next 10 to 15 years.

Liberty House executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta said: “The conclusions of the Cambridge team match our own industry analysis and our ‘green steel’ strategy very closely and we believe their work will be hugely valuable to us in developing and refining our business model for the sector.

“Making liquid steel from scrap involves half the cost and a third of the carbon footprint of the equivalent blast furnace method of production, so making the transition over time to recycling will give us a greener and far more competitive industry.”

He said the Cambridge report’s conclusions are in line with Liberty’s strategy to integrate the steel industry all the way from renewable energy generation, through liquid steel production and into the downstream manufacture of advanced steel products and components.

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