Steel Tycoon Urges Action On UK Energy Costs

He pointed out even after a previous change, energy prices remained double what they are in France and Germany.

He was speaking as Business Secretary Sajid Javid arrived in Mumbai for talks with Tata as efforts continue to save thousands of steel jobs.

Mr Gupta told Sky News: "One fundamental need is a competitive energy price, our model is based on melting scrap which requires a lot of energy.

"The UK has one of the highest energy price environments in the world and this needs to be rectified.

"It has been rectified partially already, but not enough.

"Even after the partial rectification we are still double what they are in France and Germany.”

He also warned there would be no quick-fix and that a solution was "not something that can happen overnight".

Mr Gupta said: "There are issues to resolve which will become more apparent as prospective buyers do their due diligence.

"As they do we hope there will be an equitable solution for the industry."

He added: "The UK imports 6 million tonnes of steel at the moment.

"Some of this, we are confident, can even be produced here. There's capacity, so we would look to increase and expand the UK sale industry.

"If it is competitive it can do and it will do."

Meanwhile, Mr Javid said a meeting with Tata chairman Cyrus Mistry about the sale of the company's loss-making UK business, had been "constructive and positive".

He said: "Tata have demonstrated once again that they are a responsible company. They've said that they intend to lunch formally the sales process by Monday at the latest.

"I've also made it clear that the UK Government will do everything it can to support any serious buyer...to secure the long-term future of this industry."

Some 40,000 jobs linked to the UK steel industry are at risk unless a buyer can be found.

Chancellor George Osborne said: "Of course it is a difficult situation for the steelworkers and their families.

"That is why the Government is doing everything it can to help that business in South Wales and indeed steel mills across the country.

"That is why Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, has gone to India to talk to the management of Tata to make sure there's a long-term future for this vital industry."

Union leaders spent an hour with Mr Javid before he left for Mumbai and stressed Tata businesses should be sold together rather than allow "cherry-picking" of different parts.

Unite leader Len McCluskey said: "At the moment we are on the same page. The Government needs to put a protective arm around the industry to show they are serious. Talk is cheap - we now need to see a practical application."

Posted on Wednesday Apr 6