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Trinidad Steel Mill Rises from the Ashes: A Thrilling Comeback Story
Trinidad Steel Mill Rises from the Ashes: A Thrilling Comeback Story

Trinidad Steel Mill Rises from the Ashes: A Thrilling Comeback Story

  • 23-Jun-2023 11:07 AM
  • Journalist: Peter Schmidt

South America: TT Iron Steel Company Limited (TTIS) has announced the signing of a sale and purchase agreement with Christopher Kelshall, liquidator of ArcelorMittal Point Lisas Ltd., to acquire the impressive iron and Steel plant situated in the Point Lisas Industrial Estate, Couva, Trinidad. The acquisition is subject to approval by the Government of Trinidad & Tobago. With low carbon emissions and natural gas-based Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) technology, the plant is considered one of the largest Steel mills in the Americas. It utilizes Electric Arc Furnaces for Steelmaking and was constructed in 1980 with cutting-edge technology that has been continuously upgraded over the years. The estimated cost for initial refurbishment and restarting of the plant is expected to range between US$150-200 million (TT$1-1.4 billion) in the next 24 months, with additional investments anticipated thereafter.

According to recent reports, most of the world's Steel production (70%) is derived from coal-based blast furnaces which emit 2.0 to 2.5 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of Steel. On the other hand, the remaining 30% of Steel production is made using electric arc furnace technology that emits significantly less CO2 (0.8 to 1.5 tonnes of CO2 per tonne), thanks to the use of recycled/scrap Steel and/or low carbon emission Direct Reduced Iron.

Direct Reduced Iron is a product of iron ore that is smelted with natural gas and/or Hydrogen, resulting in lower carbon emissions compared to coal-based technologies. Point Lisas, for example, produces Direct Reduced Iron, and in the coming years, they plan to transition to green Hydrogen from natural gas, further reducing the plant's carbon intensity to 0.4 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of Steel produced.

Over 1,000 jobs will be generated during the refurbishment and start-up phase of the plant, with a long-term employment opportunity for 500 skilled workers when it becomes fully operational. Additionally, TTIS anticipates indirect job creation through maintenance and construction services, port services, downstream manufacturing (rebar, fencing, etc.), as well as a demand for green Hydrogen and renewable energy. Gus Hiller, a Steel industry veteran and the founder, president, and CEO of the company, has spent six years leading Nucor on the Point Lisas estate, as well as managing and operating Steel plants across the United States and Canada.

In a recent statement, Hiller expressed their belief that the plant in Trinidad and Tobago has the potential to become a leader in global Steelmaking technology and performance once again. The company was attracted to the region due to its favourable business environment, skilled workforce, and potential to be a Hydrogen leader. Hiller is confident that they can successfully operate a state-of-the-art Steel mill within the next 12 to 18 months, with a target start date of no later than December 2024. This move is expected to create sustainable employment opportunities and generate wealth for the citizens of Trinidad & Tobago for years to come.

Joel "Monty" Pemberton, chairman of TTIS, has announced that the local Steel industry restart aligns with the vision of Trinbagonian pioneers who conceived it. In addition, TT Iron is committed to utilizing green Hydrogen as the fuel of the future in the shortest possible time frame. The company aims to develop the downstream manufacturing sector of higher value iron and Steel products in Trinidad & Tobago, which would create more employment opportunities and boost wealth creation in the country. Moreover, their ESG principles prioritize producing lower carbon products, promoting entrepreneurial activity, establishing a youth development apprenticeship program, and creating sustainable employment for generations in the clean energy industry.

In response to the acquisition, liquidator Christopher Kelshall expressed his excitement over the asset's purchase by a company dedicated to the growth of Trinidad & Tobago, particularly with its plans for green Hydrogen utilization. With experienced industry professionals at the helm, this investment will bolster Trinidad & Tobago's reputation as a valuable contributor to the worldwide Steel industry. Furthermore, this move marks a substantial stride towards expanding the country's downstream energy sector.

Leading the transaction was Shalini R. Campbell, the Managing Partner for Trinidad and Tobago, who received support from Rachel Welch-Phillips, the Corporate Commercial Partner, and Head of ESG & Sustainable Finance. The fact that both attorneys are Directors on the Board of TTIS, along with Chairman Pemberton, highlights the Company's dedication to sustainable development and ensuring good environmental and social governance.

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