Two developments, in the last year and a half, suggest that Scotland is beginning to recover at least some of its historic metal-making capacity. In Insider today:
‘Liberty Steel Dalzell back in business. A Scottish steel plant has vowed to win back market share in the import-dominated market for heavy-duty steel that is used in bridges, buildings and battleships. Dalzell is now the only remaining UK-owned large producer of plate steel, an ultra-tough product used for demanding applications such as large physical structures, ship bodies, undersea oil pipes, bulldozers and wind towers…..the plant has just secured two substantial new contracts and is on target to produce more than 120,000 tonnes of plate this year…..this figure is set to rise by at least another 25% next year, as the plant’s expansion plan moves into its next phase. Other Liberty plants in Scotland and England will use a significant amount of steel from Dalzell to make products such as wind towers and oil pipelines.’
In March 2017, I was able to write this:
The Lochaber Delivery Group met for the first time today to begin the process of helping the GFG Alliance (Liberty House and SIMEC) make the most of their total £450 million investment in the area subsequent to buying the Fort William aluminium complex and estate lands from Rio Tinto in a £330 million deal in December.
You’ll remember that Liberty House have already worked with the Scottish Government to save the steel plants at Dalzell and Clydebridge. The plans are to revitalise (already underway) the smelter to manufacture car parts, to do the same for nearby hydro plants (£120 million), to maximise cost savings in that manufacture and, along with two bio-fuel plants, to create a state-of-the-art facility which will add 1 000 direct and 1 000 indirect jobs in the area and a predicted £1 billion addition to the local economy. Unemployment in the Fort William area is generally well under (2.9%) the overall Scottish rate (4.9%) but I’m sure it would be a very popular place to relocate to.
This will be the UK’s last aluminium smelter putting it in a very good place to compete to produce car parts for the wider UK and European car manufacturers. Of course India’s car ownership growth is the fastest in the world at 7.64% or 2.54 million vehicles in 2016 and is expected to grow by 775% to 2040! Who owns the Lochaber mill? It’s a Mr Gupta. Now where does that name originate?
GFG Alliance (Liberty/SIMEC) Executive Chairman Sanjeev Gupta said:
‘One of the key reasons we invested in the Highlands was because people welcomed us here. That’s been reinforced by the positive response of the many agencies in the new Lochaber Delivery Group who are eager to play their part in delivering the goal of a clean, competitive and sustainable manufacturing sector in the Highlands.’
I appreciate that this is only a fraction of what we once did but it’s still something to be encouraged by.
- I know it should be ‘mettle’, pedants. I’m playing with words for effect! Anyhoo, as recently as the 17th Century, the words were used inter-changeably so there!