Page last updated at 21:09 GMT, Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Saving steel plant is 'long shot'

Minister for the North East Nick Brown
Mr Brown said the government was working hard for the plant

The chance of finding a buyer for a Teesside blast furnace before it is mothballed with the loss of 1,700 jobs is a "long shot", a minister has said.

The Corus' Redcar plant is due to cease production at the end of February as a market cannot be found for its steel.

Minister for the North East Nick Brown, speaking at a select committee into the closure, said the prospects of finding a quick solution were slim.

The site's managing director Jon Bolton also gave evidence to the inquiry.

The plant has been at risk since a 10-year contract with international buyers fell through.

After the partial mothballing was announced, the government pledged £60m to help the area recover, but opponents have said the cash should be spent on saving the steelworks.

Mr Brown said: "We are trying very hard to find a way forward right at the top of government but it would be irresponsible of me to somehow suggest that the prospects of succeeding were anything other than a long shot."

Mr Bolton said efforts to secure a future for the plant would continue after mothballing.

He said: "We had to regretfully announce the mothballing but that does not mean to say that we are not open to other potential opportunities that might arise, hence why we are mothballing."

Meanwhile a "Save Our Steel" flag has been hoisted at Redcar and Cleveland town hall in support of Corus workers.

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