ArcelorMittal warns one of its main divisions could quit Britain

The steel firm has suggested that one of its divisions may leave the UK if a planning application to redevelop docks in the south-east of England is approved

ArcelorMittal employs about 800 people at Chatham Docks. Photo: Association of Chatham Docks Commercial Operators
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The steel company ArcelorMittal has warned that one of its divisions may end up leaving Britain if a planning application in a town in south-east England is approved.

In a letter seen by Sky News, the Luxembourg-based conglomerate said if a planning application was approved and part of Chatham Docks in Kent was closed and redeveloped there would be “seismic adverse consequences” for several important industries and the UK economy as a whole.

A planning application made by Peel Waters, which is part of the infrastructure and property investment company Peel Group, is due to be heard by Medway Council on Wednesday.

Peel Waters plans for 'Chatham Waters', as the development would be known, include the construction of up to 950 homes with waterside commercial, retail and restaurant complexes on the site at Chatham Docks.

'Lack of public awareness'

The redevelopment would necessitate the closure of the docks which Arcelor Mittal uses to supply reinforcement materials for the construction industry.

“Our concern is that Peel’s application to redevelop Chatham Docks is not only wrong for Britain but has proceeded with little scrutiny and a lack of public awareness. Many key stakeholders are therefore unaware of the consequences if it were to proceed,” wrote Matthew Brooks, managing director of ArcelorMittal Kent Wire in the letter to the UK's housing minister, Michael Gove, which was seen by Sky News.

Mr Brooks added that If the planning application is approved, ArcelorMittal “would regrettably be left with no alternative but to leave Chatham Docks and, more than likely, cease operations in Britain, given the lack of suitable alternative sites”.

ArcelorMittal, which is the world's second-largest steel producer and is chaired by the Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, has supplied materials through its Chatham site that have ended up being used in several major infrastructure projects in the UK including Heathrow's Terminal 5 and London's Elizabeth Line railway.

In his letter, Mr Brooks said approximately 30 per cent of Britain’s concrete steel reinforcement came through ArcelorMittal's works in Chatham, where 800 people are employed.

Mr Brooks also noted that the planning issue had already delayed £5 million worth of ArcelorMittal investment into the site and placed £20 million more in jeopardy.

The Save Chatham Docks Campaign said that the docks generate £258 million worth of business every year.

Last week, ArcelorMittal reported first-quarter earnings ahead of analysts' expectations and restated its expectation that global steel demand outside China will increase by 3-4 per cent this year.

The company said it made $1.96 billion core profit in its first quarter, which beat predictions, but was $180 million below the $2.14 billion reported in the same period last year.

Updated: May 06, 2024, 1:35 PM