In an internal memo to Liberty Steel Group management, the company's executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta today announced a long-term €2 billion 'transformational investment plan' with a view to creating a new 'champion' in European steel. There will be a clear focus on carbon neutrality by 2030, he said.

According to Gupta, 2019 was a challenging year for the European steel industry. He said that Liberty had been fighting tough market conditions as well as developing long-term plans for the future.

"2019 was a challenging time for the European steel industry which has meant our teams have been managing tough market conditions as well as developing their long term strategic investment plans," said Gupta. "I want to thank everyone involved for their very significant efforts during this period to reach this important milestone for our business."

Gupta said that since Liberty acquired seven major steelworks and five service centres across seven European countries from ArcelorMittal, back in July 2019, the company has worked closely with the local teams to understand them in detail and implement a range of initiatives, from restarting and upgrading processing lines to identifying opportunities to install energy-improvement projects.

"These important incremental changes will now be combined with our bold long term investment plans to deliver a step change in operational performance and help create a new force in European steel, putting the businesses on a pathway towards becoming economically, socially and environmentally sustainable for the long term," Gupta said.

Gupta has also announced investment plans for the group including:-

* LIBERTY Galaţi: major upgrades to its casters, rolling mills and coating lines, to improve quality and increase capacity, as well as the installation of an electric arc furnace (EAF) to dramatically reduce emissions in support of Liberty's CN30 ambitions and to reduce dependency on imported raw materials;

* LIBERTY Ostrava: installation of Europe’s first hybrid furnaces – a new steel-making technology – that will give the business the ability to switch between and blend blast furnace and EAF steel making enabling a shift over time towards Liberty's 'Greensteel' model, as well as starting a major modernisation and expansion of all its rolling mills:

* LIBERTY Liege-Dudelange: investments to improve the quality, performance and output of its galvanised steel products which will significantly improve the competitiveness of its business;

* LIBERTY Magona: upgrading and extending its organic coated and galvanised lines to restore the plant’s long-term profitability;

* LIBERTY Skopje: investment to increase and improve its organic coated capacity by upgrading existing lines and broadening its product and service portfolio.

"Today’s announcements are just the beginning," said Gupta. "In addition to these substantial upgrades and the construction of new EAF and hybrid furnaces in fulfiment of our Greensteel model we will continue our pursuit of new technologies including hydrogen DRI and CCS to achieve our CN30 target. We will announce exciting new plans on this journey in the near future."

In the memo, Gupta told Liberty management, "Together, we will identify further ways to create value and improve competitiveness so that our businesses are strong and sustainable over the long term, allowing them to reinvest and continue to provide high quality local employment for generations to come."

Following our announcement In October 2019 Liberty announced a plan to consolidate all of its steel businesses globally to create the Liberty Steel Group, said Gupta. "We now have 18Mt of steel product capacity and 30,000 people across 11 countries, making us the 8th largest producer outside China."

Gupta said that 2020 would be a 'pivotal year for our group' and described the forthcoming decade as 'transformational'.