LIBERTY Steel, which has a presence in Newport, is one of two companies to have expressed an interest in the city's Orb Electrical Steels plant.

It is understood that Liberty Steel has been looking at taking on the plant, while another - US company Big River Steel - is interested in using it, but only with another firm running it.

Tata Steel announced yesterday - following the end of a consultation period with unions and staff - that it intends to mothball the Orb plant, and is committed to finding jobs at other sites for all Orb staff who wish to continue working for the company.

The mothballing decision was described as a "travesty" yesterday by Community union general secretary Roy Rickhuss, who nevertheless welcomed the move as an alternative to complete closure, which had been on the cards by the end of the year.

But he stressed that the fight to try to save the plant is far from over.

In September Tata Steel announced that Orb Electrical Steels, which employs 380 people, would close by the end of the year.

The plant has been cited by those striving to keep it open as ideal for producing the electrical steel required in the production of electric cars. It is the only such suitable plant for the purpose in the UK.

Economy minister Ken Skates has called the mothballing decision "very disappointing" and pledged Welsh Government support for "individuals, the community and the supply chain affected by this announcement".

Shadow economy minister Russell George AM said the two firms' interest in Orb is "welcome, and especially at this time of year.”

“I was equally pleased to hear yesterday that Tata Steel, which owns Orb, announced that the plant is to be ‘mothballed’ rather than closed. We must remember that it is a reprieve, not a guarantee of the plant remaining in operation.

“For this to happen, then it requires further and future investment to maintain its viability."