Negotiations are ongoing regarding the metal plant's debts to Tameh Energy Czech
The timing of the restart of the Czech steel plant Liberty Ostrava, a subsidiary of British Liberty Steel, is still uncertain as negotiations on the unpaid debt are still ongoing. This is reported by S&P Global.
The largest steelmaker in the Czech Republic has been at a standstill since December 22, 2023. Then its sole electricity supplier, Tameh Energy Czech, stopped supplying electricity due to the accumulation of unpaid bills from the steel mill.
According to Tameh spokesman Patrick Schrober, as of January 15, Liberty Steel Ostrava has not yet paid any significant part of its overdue debt, and for this reason the energy company cannot generate the electricity needed to restart production.
According to Tameh, Liberty Ostrava owes it 500 million kroons ($22.16 million) in long-term electricity bills that should have already been paid. The total debt is about 2 billion kroons.
Employees will remain on paid vacation for at least another week, said Petr Slanina, a representative of the largest trade union at the Kovo plant. Currently, the date is January 23.
According to him, the plant’s management assured him that the companies are holding talks at the highest level to resolve the dispute over the bills and resume production at the plant. However, even if the company’s employees return to work after January 23, it will take some time to restore normal processes.
Liberty spokeswoman Kateryna Zaichkova said that negotiations with Tameh’s strategic shareholders are going slower than they would like. However, the company is confident that a solution will be found in the coming weeks. However, she was unable to outline a timeframe for the restart of blast furnace No. 3 and the plant as a whole.
Zaichkova also noted that since the beginning of 2024, the European steel market has been showing «growing signs of recovery,» which should be reflected in the growth of prices for steel products throughout the year. She added that this will help Liberty Steel’s optimization plan to increase profitability after production resumes, focusing on high value-added products.
According to Czech Aktualne, the Czech Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Marian Jurečka shares the concerns of the plant’s employees. According to him, despite the government’s appeals, the owner of the plant, the Gupta Alliance, is not making any efforts to talk to the Czech government or the European Commission, which makes it impossible for the government to help in this situation.
As GMK Center reported earlier, last December, Czech Minister of Industry Józef Sikela called on Liberty Ostrava to pay off the energy supplier Tameh.
LIBERTY Ostrava is an integrated steel plant with an annual production capacity of about 3.6 million tons. The company primarily serves the construction, engineering and oil and gas industries. The company is a leader in the production of road barriers and pipes on the Czech market. In addition to the domestic market, it supplies its products to more than 40 countries around the world.