‘Difficult times ahead’ for steel industry

STEEL industry chiefs have warned of difficult times ahead as the European economy continues to struggle.

Tata Steel, the owners of a giant plant in Brenda Road in Hartlepool, predicts its growth will be stronger in China, India and other Asian countries while Europe battles in a “high-cost market place where demand has been somewhat stagnant”.

Company chairman Ratan Tata, in Tata Steel’s annual report, said an unprecedented increase in the price of iron ore and coking coal, plus supply disruptions, had “created pressures on the viability of the steel industry and consequently the competitiveness of the user industries.”

But Tata Steel’s Hartlepool plant is bucking the trend.

In May, it won mega-deals to provide 214 miles of pipe, and to supply 48,000 tonnes of steel pipe for an oil pipeline for the Lucius Development Project, both in the Gulf of Mexico.

Meanwhile, the renewable energy organisation Energi Coast - which represents green sector firms such as JDR Cables, Heerema and Tata Steel in Hartlepool - has slated the Government’s delay on announcing levels of financial support.

Energi chairman Alex Dawson said any hold-up could have a negative effect on investment in the offshore wind market, in which Hartlepool hopes to become a world hub.

A spokesperson for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, said: “Renewables are absolutely vital part of our clean energy mix, and we are continuing to work hard so that we can finalise the detail for the Renewables Obligation Certificate (ROC) subsidies at the earliest opportunity.”