Port Talbot steelworks could close without subsidy deal: Tata

It comes as Tata’s former head of strategy, Nirmalya Kumar, told BBC Wales that the Port Talbot plant had not been profitable for 15 years and his answer would be to “close it down”.
Representative image
Representative image

LONDON: The owner of the UK’s biggest steelworks, Tata Group, has warned its sites could be shut without subsidies for reducing carbon emissions, reports claim.

Tata Group wants to reach a deal for the UK government to provide 1.5 bn pound towards this, the Financial Times said. The UK’s biggest steelworks, in Port Talbot, employs 4,000 people. The UK government said steel “plays a critical role” in the UK’s economy and Tata is “a valued steel producer and significant employer”.

It comes as Tata’s former head of strategy, Nirmalya Kumar, told BBC Wales that the Port Talbot plant had not been profitable for 15 years and his answer would be to “close it down”.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Tata Group chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran said: “A transition to a greener steel plant is the intention that we have... But this is only possible with financial help from the government.

“We have been in discussions over the last two years and we should come to an agreement within 12 months. Without this, we will have to look at closures of sites.”

The report says Tata Group wants to close two blast furnaces at Port Talbot and build two electric arc furnaces, that will be less carbon intensive. However, the Financial Times added that this process will cost about 3 billion pound, with Tata seeking 1.5 billion pound from the UK government.

Kumar said when he left Tata in 2016, the losses had “skyrocketed to 1 million pound a day”. “It’s not a problem that has happened in the last year, it has been a problem for the last 15 years,” he said, BBC reported.

The current professor of marketing at Singapore Management University said he believed the site needed government support for a profitable future. “As a dispassionate business person the answer is to close it down,” he explained.

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