Monday, May 16, 2016

Liberty House re-opens Tredegar steelworks in the UK

Liberty House will re-open yet another steelworks next month (June 2016) as it steps up its drive to transform the UK steel industry.

As part of its GREENSTEEL strategy, Liberty is set to re-start steel pipe and tube manufacturing at Tredegar in the South Wales Valleys, closed by administrators in 2015. This is the 7th British steelworks Liberty House has re-opened in as many months. Tredegar was inaugurated by Prince Charles in 1977.  A second production line was inaugurated there by Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1978 and the heyday of this high-profile facility was in the 1980s and 1990s.

The re-opened plant will form the latest link in a British steel supply value chain Liberty is developing, that will encompass all stages of the process, using green energy to "upcycle" scrap steel from its melting through to the engineering of advanced products. Hot rolled coil for the plant will come from the rolling mill at nearby Liberty Steel Newport, itself re-started in October 2015, over two years after being mothballed.

Tredegar's output will replace some of the almost one million tonnes of steel tube currently imported into the UK each year for construction and manufacturing. The UK currently has one of the highest import dependency levels of this core product in the developed world. In preparation for the re-opening in June, the company has been re-contacting former workers from the plant. Tredegar will be expanding its range of products and is planning multiple training opportunities for young apprentices. The facility was part of the Caparo Industries group of steel and engineering companies rescued from administration by Liberty in November and December last year.

Several companies from the group are now thriving in the West Midlands, supplying a range of core and advanced products to automotive, aerospace and other‎ manufacturers. For example, last week Liberty Vehicle Technology's 920Engineering unit unveiled an industry-first fully-integrated parkbrake system, marketed to automotive OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) for high-spec vehicles.

Executive chairman of Liberty House, Sanjeev Gupta said: "Tredegar will once again supply steel tube domestically. This is great news for the UK steel industry and for skilled workers in South Wales. It is also another step in turning the tide for the UK's steel industry. Steel tube is a vital link in the supply chain and adds to the integration which is essential for the sector. 

"The steel ecosystem is at the heart of manufacturing, and the global oversupply of steel increases the need for the UK to refocus our industrial strategy around both reducing costs and adding value to steel. Without significant change we will lose the remaining cornerstone of manufacturing. Our plan is to restructure the sector around production efficiency, engineering integration, and innovation. Britain's outstanding skills, engineering and production knowledge and resources can re-invigorate the supply chain and bring about a new industrial renaissance."

Based on 25 years' experience in global steel markets, Liberty has developed its "GREENSTEEL"‎ vision for a clean, integrated and competitive UK steel industry, based on melting and upcycling the growing mountain of scrap in the UK.

According to a recent report from the University of Cambridge, the volume of recoverable steel emerging in the UK from sources ranging from scrap vehicles and household appliances to ageing Victorian infrastructure, is set to rise from 10m to 20m tonnes a year in the next decade. Around 70% of UK scrap generated is already exported for melting abroad, a far higher proportion than competitor countries. This is expected to increase substantially unless the UK builds high-tech recycling facilities to recover this resource.

Mr Gupta called for the development of a national strategy for the creation of a sustainable manufacturing base in the UK. "This is much bigger than steel. Resolving the steel crisis opens the door to the rejuvenation of manufacturing and making a host of high-value goods in this country. Government and industry need to agree a road map that contains a consistent approach to all the vital ingredients: competitive energy, competitive raw materials, innovation, skills, and an investment-friendly environment. The only way to stand up to the forces of globalization is with a value-adding game plan."


Andrzej M Kotas, MBA
Managing Director
Metals Consulting International Limited


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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Tata Steel Port Talbot - the road to viability

We have previously discussed in this blog some of the issues surrounding the future of Port Talbot in south Wales. Below, I outline our own views of the way ahead for steelmaking in south Wales – as seen by the experts at Metals Consulting International Ltd.

The problem
The biggest problem at present is that Port Talbot is reportedly losing somewhere between GBP £0.5 million - £1 million per day. With production of finished steel products at Port Talbot of the order of 3 million tonnes / year, this translates (assuming losses of just £0.5m per day) into a loss of ~£60/tonne. With weak balance sheets across the steel industry pretty much worldwide, few steel companies today are able to sustain loss-making at this level for very long.

Suggestions for business turnaround
In recent weeks, a number of apparent solutions for the turnaround of Port Talbot have been mentioned in the international press. These include business rate reductions, employment cost reductions and even reductions in energy costs. Let us examine these ideas in turn.

(i) Business rate reductions
Many industry commentators note the cripplingly high business rates that sometimes apply in the UK. Port Talbot currently pays ~£10m/year in business rates. On a sales volume of ~3 million tonnes, this cost amounts to roughly £3 / tonne. If the objective is to improve profitability by £60/tonne, it is clear that substantial reductions of business rates will do little to restore viability at Port Talbot.

(ii) Employment cost reductions
Port Talbot employs a labour force of ~4000. If we assume an average wage of £25,000/year per employee, this gives a total wage bill of £100 million per annum or roughly £33/tonne. Trimming this by 10% could therefore reduce Port Talbot’s production costs by ~£3/tonne. If the objective is to improve Port Talbot profitability by £60/tonne, trimming the wage bill by a few percentage points will also do very little to restore viability to the business.

(iii) Energy cost reductions
There is much discussion concerning the relative cost of electricity prices in the UK as compared to the continent; many observers consider that electricity costs in the UK are double those in other parts of Europe. Depending a little on the exact steel product, our own assessment is that Port Talbot’s electricity costs are currently in the £12.50-£17.50 / tonne range.  If we ignore the fact that much of this electricity can be generated from hot gas that is generated from carbon-based inputs such as coal and coke, and further assume an average electricity cost of £15/tonne of finished steel, it is clear that whilst halving of these costs might save ~£7.50 per tonne, this level of cost saving is also very far from the profit improvement target of £60/t discussed above.

The solution
What then is the solution for Port Talbot if the objective is a profit improvement of £60/tonne, when measures such as business rate reductions, employment cost reductions and reductions in electricity costs can at most generate savings of £3, £3.50 and £7.50/tonne respectively (or just £14/tonne in total)?

MCI’s view is that the only solution is to stop production of liquid steel in south Wales, and to ship in steel slab (for further downstream processing into hot and cold rolled and coated steel at Port Talbot) from one of the lowest-cost producers of these steels.

The chart below illustrates Port Talbot’s slab production costs on the world cost curve, as at Q1 2016.

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Readers of this blog post will notice that the difference in slab production cost between the world’s lowest cost producer and the Port Talbot works is ~$110/tonne. If we assume a transport cost via sea freight of ~$35/tonne, the total cost saving at Port Talbot of purchasing rather than making slab works out at $75/tonne or ~£52 / tonne. With some small reduction in business rates or employment costs or energy prices, Port Talbot should therefore be able to achieve a profit improvement of £60/tonne and thus attain viability, if it can source low cost slab.

Next steps  
Do we have any other evidence that such a strategy would be viable for Port Talbot? Who would be the best foreign partners for sourcing the low-cost slab (and do they have the capability for immediate slab supply)? How do we calculate the production cost savings and freight costs?

For further information, please contact us.

Andrzej M Kotas
Managing Director
Metals Consulting International Limited

Mobile: +44 775 149 0885

      

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Monday, May 09, 2016

Centro-Metalcut gears up for production on a large Conditioning Grinder

Rockford, IL, May 2, 2016 – Centro-Metalcut, a world-class manufacturer of Abrasive Cutoff Saws and Conditioning Grinders for the steel industry is gearing up for production on a large Conditioning Grinder with some impressive features.

The grinder, a 400HP stationary grinding machine features a 90/45 degree grinding head, electric car drive system.  The machine will have dual grinding cars; a rounds grind car and a slab grind car that allows onboard slab turning more than 20tons (over 40,000lbs), which will allow for increased production capabilities through a reduction in material handling time.  Material load and unload tables will be supplied with the machine as well.

Like all Centro-Metalcut machines, the grinder is a custom-engineered design.  It will include constant load monitoring technology which offers benefits such as constant surface speed while grinding, increased quality of the end product, increased grinding wheel life, fast and compact design, the highest degree of safety, and improved surface finish. 

The grinder, whose final home will stay in the United States, is set to be complete in late 2016.  Centro-Metalcut plans to have an open house at their facility in Rockford, IL in Fall 2016 for current and potential customers, vendors and employees to see the final machine in action. 

For more information about Stationary Grinders from Centro-Metalcut, visit Centro-Metalcut at AISTech 2016 May 16-18th, booth #2659, or visit www.centrometalcut.com.


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Friday, April 29, 2016

ISSB News - Chinese steel production in March 2016

The Iron & Steel Statistics Bureau today comment as follows on Chinese steel production levels in March 2016.

“The decline in Chinese domestic demand for steel has been well documented and there had been reports in the press of government plans to cut some of the older, more polluting capacity and to reduce annual production by around 150 million tonnes in five years. There has been very little evidence of any progress being made in this regard, however, as although Chinese production fell by 3% year on year in the first quarter, the traditionally strong month of March actually saw production increase by 1% to 70.7 million tonnes which, incredibly, represents the highest ever monthly production figure from the country”.

To read more visit http://www.issb.co.uk or visit our website at http://www.steelonthenet.com for other news.

Andrzej M Kotas

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Liberty House completes acquisition of steel mills


Statement from Liberty House regarding the steel plate works at Dalzell and Clydebridge

Liberty House has completed its acquisition of the former Tata Steel plate making facilities at Dalzell and Clydebridge in Lanarkshire.
The deal involved a back-to-back transaction in which the Scottish Government acquired the two plants from Tata Steel and immediately sold them to Liberty House.
Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of Liberty House said: “We’re very pleased to announce that we have completed the deal to acquire Tata’s plate mills in Scotland and we now look forward to continuing to work with local management and the workforce to re-build these great businesses in the months ahead. We’re very grateful for the valuable support of the Scottish Government and the trade unions in concluding this deal. Our team are continuing to evaluate the opportunity to make a bid for other Tata UK assets.”
Commenting First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I am delighted that the final details of the deal to transfer the Scottish steel plants is now concluded and implemented. We are very grateful to Liberty for their foresight in coming forward to take up this exciting opportunity in Scotland and for the energetic and speedy manner in which they worked with the Scottish Government to help save these jobs. We look forward to working very closely with them in the future.
“When we convened the Scottish Steel Taskforce back in October we did so with a determination not to stand by and watch these plants close, but to do everything possible to secure a new operator, and to do whatever we could to make the plants an attractive proposition. I am delighted that that approach has proved successful.”
 Scottish Business Minister, Fergus Ewing, who chaired the Scottish Steel Taskforce, said: “I was pleased to update the House of Commons Select Committee on this exciting news for the Scottish steel industry when I gave evidence to their inquiry this morning.
 “Over the course of eight taskforce meetings and a lot of other engagement we made significant progress in five key areas to support the industry, namely business rates, energy costs, environmental issues, skills and procurement.  It has been a team effort which has paid off and once again the steelworkers of Scotland will produce world class products from Lanarkshire.
 "The individuals who worked for us from the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland and SEPA were outstanding in their effort and commitment to the task before us.  I am truly grateful to all these public servants for their work, as well as to the local trades union reps and the management”
ENDS

Further information from Eoghan Mortell on 07977 555116

Note to Editors

About Liberty House Group
Liberty House Group is an international business, specialising in metals trading and the manufacture and distribution of steel and advanced engineering products. Operating from four strategically-positioned hubs in London, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong, the Group has a network of operations spread across 30 countries. The Group is focused on creating a sustainable, balanced international business that is non-cyclical, environmentally conscious and socially responsible, and has an integrated and agile business model.


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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Financing the future of British steelmaking assets

A number of press reports are commenting on the lack of interest of the UK banking sector in the future financing of British steelmaking assets. For example see http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-tata-steel-britain-banking-idUKKCN0XB2CM which comments that Britain's biggest steel business is such an unattractive prize that most major investment banks are not even angling for the opportunity to advise potential buyers on one of the year's highest profile deals”.

In my own experience, if the investment decision is attractive, the financing decision usually follows. The reluctance of the UK banking sector to get involved with financing any restructuring of British steelmaking assets is therefore telling me that more work needs to be done on the investment decision itself – i.e. on developing an attractive vision of future UK steelmaking – a vision which is cost-competitive and which will prove viable over the longer term.

I will in the coming days be posting some further thoughts on how this might be achieved at sites such as Port Talbot in South Wales.

Andrzej M Kotas, MBA
Managing Director
Metals Consulting International Limited


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Friday, April 15, 2016

British steel - cost of tidal power

Some press reports are suggesting that Liberty Commodities’ plan for Port Talbot is to use electric arc furnaces (rather than blast furnace steelmaking), with the electric power coming from the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon.

Is this credible?

The UK’s cost of power at ~9p per kWh is already almost double that of continental Europe, where is it ~5p per kWh. Yet the cost of power from the Swansea tidal scheme is said to be several times above the normal wholesale price electricity. See https://www.theengineer.co.uk/your-questions-answered-tidal-lagoons/

If this is so, investment in electric arc furnaces at Port Talbot with use of tidal power cannot lead to a viable long-term solution for steel production in south Wales.

For further reports on the future of steelmaking in the UK, visit http://www.steelonthenet.com/feeds/uk.php

Andrzej M Kotas


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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

News update - SIMEC Group / Liberty House


Gupta family recruits Jay Hambro to its Strategic Board

The Gupta family, which controls commodities, energy and industrial interests worldwide has today (20th January) appointed Jay Hambro as a senior member of its Group management team.

Mr Hambro, 41, who has been executive chairman of Sino-Russian Hong Kong exchange-listed industrial commodities champion IRC since 2010, is a well-known figure in the international mining and commodities industry. He joins the Guptas’ Group Strategic Board as Group Chief Investment Officer and Chief Executive Officer of SIMEC Energy & Mining Divisions, spearheading the ambitious global development plans of the business.

The Gupta family, which owns two international commodity and industrial groups, SIMEC and Liberty House, has been undertaking major investments in recent months including the purchase of Uskmouth Power Station and reactivation of the Liberty Steel rolling mill, both in South Wales, and the acquisition of most of the former Caparo steel and engineering businesses in the UK West Midlands.

Mr Hambro’s primary role will focus on the aggressive worldwide development of SIMEC, (Shipping, Industrials, Mining, Energy & Commodities), which currently includes a power generating arm and a global portfolio of trading operations focused on the resources sector.

One of his immediate roles will be to lead the completion of the purchase of the Tungsten Bank which Gupta family interests recently entered into an agreement to acquire, as part of its broader strategy to invest in finance for the commodities industry. This is subject to the approval of the Prudential Regulation Authority.

After graduating in business management, Mr Hambro began his career in resource finance with NM Rothschild & Sons, before moving to the investment bank of HSBC, advising multinational mining groups. He then joined what is now the Petropavlovsk plc group in a business development role and later as Chief Investment Officer before spearheading the development of their industrial commodity divisions as Aricom plc (FTSE listed) and more recently at IRC Limited.

Under his leadership the IRC business has become the first vertically integrated industrial commodity producer in Russia; has constructed and commissioned c.30mtpa of iron ore mining and processing operations with a near-term plan of bringing on stream one of the lowest cost new iron ore mines in the world; and has raised well over US$1bn in development finance for these projects.

P K Gupta, Chairman of the SIMEC Group, explained: “Appointing Jay Hambro is a key hire as a part of our evolution and growth plans. Jay has a proven successful track record in buying, building, operating and financing commodity businesses. He is well respected in the sector and I am delighted that he is joining our team.”

Jay Hambro said: “I am very pleased and honoured to be joining this highly successful team. What the group has achieved in creating a dynamic and entrepreneurial business unit focused on commodities is to be commended. I began working closely with the team some months ago on another project and so I am well aware of both their capabilities and their aggressive expansion plans.”

Further information from Jessica Beeken, +44 (0) 7429 176511 JessicaBeeken@workingword.co.uk .Eoghan Mortell + 44 (0) 07977 555 116 eoghan.mortell@workingword.co.uk

Note to Editors
The SIMEC Group is a multi-faceted commodity business spanning five continents, with operations that extend to an industrial base covering shipping, Industrial, Mining, Energy and Commodities.

Liberty House Group (“Liberty”) is an international steel and non-ferrous metals group, operating from its four hubs in the UK, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong, with a global network of offices spread across 30 countries. The Group’s global steel production capacity exceeds 4 million tonnes per annum. Current Group turnover is approximately $6 billion.

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Saturday, November 07, 2015

Free trial - daily steel industry news

We now offer a free trial to our steel industry news pages. To register, visit http://www.steelonthenet.com/register.html or contact us for further information.

Andrzej M Kotas
Chief Executive


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Monday, July 27, 2015

Market, technology and cost-price trends in steel

Are you interested in steel market trends, steelmaking technology trends and / or cost price trends in the world steel sector?


All comments and perspectives are provided with the compliments of UK-based Metals Consulting International Limited.

Andrzej M Kotas
Chief Executive

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