After seven years in limbo, the iron and steel plant in Point Lisas is expected to resume operations next year after an agreement was signed for TT Iron Steel Company Ltd to acquire the facility.
In a news release yesterday, TT Iron confirmed yesterday it had signed a sale and purchase agreement with Christopher Kelshall, the liquidator of ArcelorMittal Point Lisas Ltd. (In Liquidation).
The release said the completion of the transaction is subject to approval by the Government of Trinidad & Tobago.
Last year, the Guardian reported the planned purchase of the plant by TT Iron, with the company hoping to start production of billets and coils through the melt shop.
TT Iron said initial refurbishment and restart of the plant is expected to cost US$150 to 200 million (between TT$1 billion and TT$1.4 billion) over the next two years with further investment required thereafter.
On the issue of the price the prospective owners are paying for the plant, the news release said: “This is a private transaction, bound by confidentiality agreements.”
The company also stated its intention for the plant to use renewable energy going forward.
TT Iron said: “The plant historically used natural gas however TT Iron intends to transition to green hydrogen in the coming years as it becomes commercially available. This will reduce the plant’s carbon intensity to 0.4 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of steel produced. Restarting the iron and steel plant and then transitioning to green hydrogen will put Trinidad and Tobago back on the map as a world leader on the cutting edge of low emission steel production technology.”
TT Iron said the refurbishment is expected to create 1,000 jobs, while the plant should provide long-term employment opportunites for 500 people.
Some 644 people became unemployed in March 2016, when ArcelorMittal opted to shut down operations at the plant following a dispute over the natural gas supply required to run it.
TT Iron founder, president, and CEO Gus Hiller said: “We believe there is great potential for the plant to return to the forefront of global steelmaking technology and performance. Our team was drawn to Trinidad and Tobago due to its strategic location, skilled workforce, potential to be a hydrogen leader and an enabling business environment. We are confident we will be able to bring on stream and operate an efficient, cutting-edge steel mill which we expect and hope will start production within the next 12 to 18 months; certainly, no later than December 2024.”
Hiller is a veteran of the steel industry and spent six years of his career on the Point Lisas estate at the helm of Nucor. He has managed and operated steel plants across US and Canada.
Chairman of TT Iron Joel “Monty” Pemberton said: “The restart of the local steel industry continues the vision of the Trinbagonian pioneers who conceived it, and we are enhancing this vision with the full use of green hydrogen in the shortest possible time frame; this is the fuel of the future.
“TT Iron is passionate about the development of the downstream manufacturing sector of higher value iron and steel products in Trinidad & Tobago, this will further increase employment and wealth creation in the country. Our ESG principles are anchored in producing lower carbon products, the promotion of entrepreneurial activity in T&T through the development of the downstream manufacturing sector, establishing an apprenticeship programme for youth development, thereby creating sustainable employment for generations in the clean energy industry.”
Liquidator Christopher Kelshall said he was pleased that TT Iron operations included plans for the developement of T&T.
“Especially with the future use of green hydrogen. The investment by experienced industry veterans, will see Trinidad & Tobago continue to be a credible player in the global steel industry. Further, this investment represents a significant step to continue to diversify the downstream energy industry in Trinidad and Tobago,” said Kelshall.