Steel mill signals further confidence boost

Plans for a steel mill in Fujairah are back on track after the global economic downturn forced the project to stall.

The stalled steel rolling-mill project in Fujairah when completed will have the capacity to produce 1 million tonnes of metal-roll a year. Paulo Vecina / The National
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The construction industry in the UAE received a much needed vote of confidence yesterday when steel manufacturer United Steel Industries announced it was resuming work on what will be the largest steel mill in the country.

The company has appointed the construction consultancy Turner & Townsend as project manager to build the stalled 145,000 square metre steel rolling-mill project in Fujairah to cater to the needs of construction companies restarting work in the emirates.

Seen by many as a key bellwether for the sector, when complete the factory will produce the type of steel used to fortify concrete structures used in towers and roads.

The ambitious scheme, which when completed will have the capacity to produce 1 million tonnes of metal-roll a year, was initially started in October 2006 but was placed on hold in November 2008 as demand for building materials in the region declined in the wake of the global financial downturn.

Yesterday, the company said work on the project, located in the Fujairah Free Zone, close to Fujairah Port in the Northern Emirate, was due to begin this month.

"It seems the construction industry in the UAE is on the up once more," said Turner & Townsend's UAE project management director Joanne Stephens.

"By specialising in the steel supplies used to fortify cast concrete structures and elements in the construction of houses and high-rise buildings, as well as for other industrial buildings and infrastructure projects like bridges, fly-overs and tunnels, the manufacture of a new plant in Fujairah is a clear indication the sector is returning.

"The UAE's rapidly growing and urban young population constantly fuel demand across the real estate, infrastructure and utilities segments of the market," Ms Stephens added. "Nevertheless the legacy of the economic crash means that in the current climate every development needs to have its commercial position safeguarded; and this is where Turner & Townsend adds most value."

The new factory will be used to produce both reinforced steel bars and steel wire. The steel will be sold both within the UAE and exported. The new plant will provide 500 jobs in the Fujairah region.

Turner & Townsend will help to construct both the factory building and associated offices as well as play a role in monitoring the scheme to ensure the build programme is completed on time and within budget, it said.