Mining firm Hargreaves has denied that it would be willing to step in to maintain operations at the insolvent Redcar steel works.
On October 1 2015, E&T reported that an unnamed company which later emerged to be Hargreaves had offered to keep the operations going until a permanent buyer could be found.
Hopes were raised that the offer could save 1,700 jobs which were due to be lost after the plant's Thai owners SSI announced its closure due to the poor global market for steel.
However, Hargreaves rebutted these claims, saying that while it would do everything it could to support the factory, it had “never contemplated buying the steelworks with a view to re-starting the blast furnace when market conditions improve”.
Following Hargreaves denial, the plant has been left in a state of limbo with 650 staff being kept on the books to operate the coke ovens and manage the site in a safe manner.
Hope remains that the factory could still find a buyer after the Official Receiver, the government’s insolvency service, said it was “continuing to talk with interested parties about the future use of the site”.
“A decision has been made to buy sufficient coal to keep the Redcar coke ovens going until the weekend,” it said.
The closure of the factory is indicative of the problems currently facing the UK steel industry, according to Gareth Stace, director of UK Steel.
Commenting on the liquidation, Stace described the UK steel industry as being ‘in crisis’ and called for the business secretary to support a campaign to secure a sustainable future for the sector.
“It may be too late for SSI, but the situation in Redcar brings the problems facing the UK steel sector into sharp relief. The Government must now spearhead efforts to support the steel industry and the supply chains it feeds. The steel site in Redcar remains a viable and efficient plant.”
Cornelius Louwrens, SSI’s chief operating officer said that although significant progress was made in 2014 with regards to the financial performance of the business, it could not be maintained due to ‘extremely challenging’ market conditions.
“Together with our parent company and the various other stakeholders, they have worked so hard in their endeavours to try and make this business successful,” he said.
“I would like to pay tribute to and thank everyone connected with SSI UK for their great support. My wish is that this facility can once again restart operations and fulfil the potential of the plant and its loyal workforce.”
Conservative MP James Wharton, who was given responsibility for the "Northern Powerhouse" in the 2015 reshuffle, has previously said the government had no intention of bailing out the Redcar steel plant or bringing it into public ownership.