NEWPORT'S Orb Electrical Steels plant has been put up for sale as a "former steelworks" - though its owners have insisted that its "possible acquisition by other steel companies" remains an option.

The plant, which was mothballed last month, is described in an entry on the Estates Gazette's Property Link website as a “former steelworks” and a “development opportunity”, to the dismay of the union that is fighting to secure its future.

The description is a further blow for steelmaking in Newport, coming just days after renewed calls were made for action to support the Welsh steel industry following job losses at Liberty Steel.

But a Tata Steel spokesman told the Argus today that the company "continues to consider all options for the Orb Electrical Steels site – including its possible acquisition by other steel companies or alternative users. The marketing is part of this process."

Tata Steel last month concluded its consultation with employees affected by the proposed closure of the Orb works, and trade unions. Around 380 staff were employed there when the closure proposal was announced last September.

The Tata Steel spokesman said the process had "sought to mitigate the impact... including offering alternative employment opportunities where possible at other Tata Steel sites."

More than 180 Orb staff have been redeployed through this policy, and the company has "offered roles at other sites to all other employees who wanted them,” said the spokesman.

South Wales Argus:

Community union chief Roy Rickhuss speaking at a rally in support of Orb and its workers in Newport City Centre last October. Picture -

Speaking about the sale process, Alasdair McDiarmid - operations director for the union Community, which represents the majority of Orb workers, and which continues to fight to keep the plant open - said: “This development should really focus minds and bring some urgency to the actions of all stakeholders.

"We called on the Welsh Government and the Westminster government to take steps to secure the future of this important industrial asset by setting up a taskforce to look at all the options and support required.

"Sadly, our calls were not heeded. As we’ve said all along it’s crazy to lose the UK’s only electrical steels plant at a time when there is a political consensus to decarbonise the economy.

"Rather than selling off the Orb for development, why not bring all parties together with potential investors to find a way forward that can ensure the Orb can continue to play its part in a greener economy?”


Newport East MP Jessica Morden attended meetings with the UK Government Steel Minister Nadahim Zahawi last week to put forward the case for a steel sector deal.

She also organised a meeting with Welsh Secretary Simon Hart, attended by other Welsh MPs with constituency ties to steel, to discuss the challenges facing the industry in Wales and to call for Government action.

South Wales Argus:

Orb workers and supporters marching in Newport last October. Picture -

"I still believe this site has a future as a producer of electrical steel, and continue to keep in touch with Tata Steel, trade unions and UK government ministers to pursue this," said Ms Morden.

Newport East AM John Griffiths said: "I firmly believe that the Orb site in Newport has a future as a producer of electric steel, particularly with the development of the electrical car industry here in the UK.

"I will continue to monitor the situation closely and to call for the necessary action to ensure the site is protected for years to come."

South Wales Argus:

The full listing can be seen at

The South Wales Argus is running a petition to save Orb Electrical Steels, which has to date attracted more than 2,700 signatures

Click here to download it: Complete Petition.pdf

All signatures must include the following to be accepted by the government:

  • Name
  • Address (to verify you live in the UK and are eligible to sign the petion)
  • Signature