London: Indian steel giant Tata Steel is planning to keep its Port Talbot plant in South Wales, the UK's biggest steelworks, fully operational, a media report said today.
Tata Steel is exploring a joint venture with Germany's ThyssenKrupp and one of the options would have meant job losses at the plant employing around 4,000 as a result of shutting down of one of two blast furnaces on the site.
According to 'The Times', it is believed the Tata Group plans to explore keeping both furnaces open and staff employed into the next decade.
"We are seeking a positive future for the UK business and during discussions with the trade unions we made substantial future assurances to achieve this," a Tata Steel statement said.
The latest report comes amid weekend speculation that the steel workers' union leaders have presented their Tata bosses with concessions on staff terms and conditions to keep Britain's largest steel-making asset fully operational.
Under earlier plans, the future of one of the blast furnaces was up for review in 2018. Union leaders and Tata management are due to meet this week to discuss the future of the Port Talbot plant, which includes extending the life of the furnace.
Tata Steel UK's future depends upon a solution for the 14-billion-pound British Steel Pension Scheme, the liabilities of which it took on when it acquired Corus.
Tata Steel had recently signed a "letter of intent" with UK-based Liberty House Group to enter into exclusive negotiations for the potential sale of its Speciality Steels business for an enterprise value of 100 million pounds.
Liberty House Group, led by Indian-origin businessman Sanjeev Gupta, had emerged as the front-runner for the Indian steel?giant's UK plants when they went up for sale earlier this year.
The new agreement covers several of Tata Steel's South Yorkshire based assets, including the Rotherham electric arc steelworks, the steel purifying facility in Stocksbridge and a mill in Brinsworth, as well as service centres in Bolton and Wednesbury in the UK and in Suzhou and Xi'an in China.
Speciality Steels employs about 1,700 people making steels for the aerospace, automotive and the oil and gas industries. At the time, it was also revealed that the Indian steel giant is actively seeking solutions to the company's structural challenges.
"Among those challenges, there is the need to develop a more sustainable business in the UK as well as a self- sustaining future for the British Steel Pension Scheme," a statement said....