Gervase Warner, president and group chief executive officer of Neal and Massy, is confident his company can work with the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and residents of La Brea to treat with any environmental concerns they may have with the construction of a US$600 million vertically integrated iron and steel complex on Union Estate. Speaking yesterday to journalists at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad hotel, Warner said: “While we are only at the feasibility stage of this project, we are confident that if we find that the project makes sense, we will be able to work with the community in La Brea to make sure that this is a win-win project for us all. “We have the experience and interest in consulting with local communities in which we operate to take concerns and interest into consideration. As a good citizen of T&T, we will also be keenly interested that our project meets and exceeds the environmental requirements of our country.” Two weeks ago, the company announced the joint venture partnership that includes Russian firm Severstal International, and Metaldom from the Dominican Republic.
The consortium proposes to construct a direct reduced iron/hot briquetted iron plant that will have a nominal capacity of 1.5 million tonnes per year and the integration of a steel mill with a nominal production capacity of up to 300,000 tonnes per year of steel billets. The project is similar to the Essar Steel project that saw significant protests by environmental groups and resulted in the EMA turning down the construction approval. Asked why he felt this would be any different from what happened in the case of Essar, Warner said the difference was that Neal and Massy was a local company with a focused approach. He said: “We can’t afford to have people boycott shopping in Hi-Lo because they object to our environmental record on this project. So, in short, we have more skin in the game.” Warner said the EMA had its role to play in the project and the partners intended to work with the authority rather than adopt an antagonistic approach. Mataldom’s portfolio manager, industry and energy, Rafael Valez, said his company was attracted by T&T’s lower energy costs, including the cost the company is expected to pay for power from Trinidad Generation Unlimited and the natural gas prices.