Thai-owned steelmaker SSI UK, which hit the headlines mid-week following worries over debt repayments, has announced that its iron and steelmaking operations on Teesside will be ‘paused’.

The announcement has been met with both disappointment and sadness within the ranks of lobbying organisation UK Steel.

Director Gareth Stace has called the latest news ‘an extremely worrying development’.

The British Government has agreed to hold crisis talks about the UK steel industry.

“I trust ministers will put in place the machinery to get on with this [the crisis talks] as a priority and that they will bring tangible offers of support. The time for warm words have passed,” said Stace in a press statement.

Stace said that he was pleased that Business Minister Anna Soubry and George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will make representations to the Chinese Government about the issue of Chinese steel being dumped in the European market, when they visit China next week.

“There are other measures the Government can take now to help ease the problems facing the entire UK steel industry,” Stace added. “If they don’t act decisively, then the damage to one of the most important industries underpinning our entire manufacturing sector will be irreversible.

“In the short-term we need a clear indication from Government that it will honour its commitment to compensate steel and other energy-intensive industries from the cripplingly high cost of energy – and to do so earlier than April next year. Failure to do so could mark a potentially disastrous tipping point for the industry,” he concluded.