Sanjeev Gupta, widely regarded in UK steel circles as the saviour of the domestic steel industry, is once again putting his money where his mouth is and investing heavily in British industry.
On Guy Fawkes’ Night Mr Gupta unveiled a £5 million investment in Bird Port on the River Usk at Newport, South Wales, as part of a wider plan to boost industry in the region. He said that the port, first opened in 1900, would become a ‘vital piece of infrastructure’ underpinning new industrial activity, including steelmaking and green energy generation in the area.
SIMEC, the energy division of Gupta’s GFG Alliance, plans to double the capacity of Bird Port, which it owns along with Cargo Services, the company handling freight operations at the site.
Bird Port offers 160,000 sq ft of modern undercover storage facilities and is equipped with a double set of gantry cranes that enable the port to handle high-value steel products. The port is also the only fully-undercover cargo-handling facility on Britain’s west coast, which means it can load and unload sea-going vessels in all weathers. It is also the only UK port with its own covered rail link.
According to the GFG Alliance, Bird Port is adjacent to Mr Gupta’s Liberty Steel Newport operations where there are plans for an electric arc furnace for scrap recycling – all part of the company’s Greensteel sustainability strategy.
Investment in Bird Port will also create new facilities to handle shipments of scrap steel destined for recycling in South Wales.
Currently the port handles up to 30 ships per month, but that will be increased to over 40 ships handling cargoes ranging from steel coil, rod and coil and bulk materials, such as aggregates, and agricultural materials.
Once revamped, Bird Port will also provide an important supply line for Uskmouth power station, owned by SIMEC Atlantis Energy, also part of the GHG Alliance. The power station is set to undergo a conversion from coal power to lower-carbon pelletised waste in order to provide green energy to Liberty Steel Newport.
Gupta is also planning to spend £15 million on upgrading Liberty Steel Newport’s rolling mill with a view to improving efficiency and product quality, and will be improving the mill’s deep water jetty to enable it to work in tandem with Bird Port.