Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 15th 2016 Contents "It s really terrible that so many people have lost their jobs
and are in search of employment. We ve been bombarded with
people looking for employment. The good things for us, though,
is that we can truly hire the best of the best available labour
at this point. There are so many talented workers in the market
Given the integrated nature of international commodity
markets, declining prices in one product tend to affect others
at varying degrees.
Probed about the associated effect of declining commodity
prices on its operations, Hess noted that there were various
upsides and downsides.
"The declining commodity prices have not affected our
productivity, but they have definitely impacted the level of
DRI prices. DRI is a raw material and so the demand for it
will naturally be based on the demand for finished products.
Given the level of demand in the global economy, raw material
prices right now are generally depressed."
On the upside, Hess pointed out that lower raw material
prices meant a reduced cost for imported iron ore.
"We ve been able to benefit from reduce raw material (iron
ore) prices to feed our plant. So from that side, it balances
As part of the liquidation process, ArcelorMittal must dispose
of its substantial assets in Pt Lisas. Given the nature of these
assets it s easy to see how they could be a strategic fit for Nu-
Iron s operations.
When asked about whether Nu-Iron had any intentions of
acquiring any of the assets from ArcelorMittal s operation in
Trinidad, Hess said: "Nucor Corporation, including Nu-Iron,
does not comment on potential mergers, acquisitions or joint-
venture activities. But, like most companies, we are constantly
evaluating unique market opportunities. If the right opportunity
comes along, it has to fit our long-term growth strategy and
provide the right return on the investment for our shareholders."
Hess added however, should any asset capture Nucor s inter-
est, it is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunity.
"During difficult times, Nucor continues to grow. We have
a very strong balance sheet with US$2.3 billion in cash and
cash equivalents and US$1.5 billion in a revolving credit facility
that is untouched. So we have the capacity even in these
difficult times to capitalise on opportunities as they present
Two of the critical inputs in the steel manufacturing and
iron processing industry are natural gas and electricity. With
government signaling its intentions to reduce the level of sub-
sidies across the board, such reductions have the potential to
materially affect Nu-Iron s operations.
Questioned about the potential impact, Hess stated that
because of contractual arrangements, Nu-Iron was somewhat
insulated from the effects.
He said: "When we came here 10 years ago we established
long-term contracts for natural gas and electricity. So, to this
point, there has been no effect to us in our gas and electricity
Hess was quick to point out, however, that in spite of its
established contracts, Nu-Iron continues to find ways to be
more efficient in both its natural gas and electricity utilisation.
"We re constantly looking at ways to improve our efficiency
in using natural gas and electricity. Whether it means imple-
menting new technology or other improvements to our plant
and operations we strive to be the most efficient, lowest cost
producer in everything that we do. The lowest cost producer
is going to win every time."
He added that there were no contracts up for renegotiation
in the near future.
Though able to survive, and even thrive, in the current low
commodity pricing environment, Nu-Iron s success has not
come without its fair share of challenges. Asked about the
main issues confronting the business in Trinidad right now,
Hess stated the company was effectively experiencing "gas
He said: "It s no secret that the industrial segment is suffering
from the effects of gas curtailments presently taking place.
Because we are a very large natural gas consumer, some of
the shortfalls in supply and curtailments over the last four
years have been a major challenge for our operations at times."
Hess, however, was optimistic about the country s ability
to increase gas production over the long term.
"We feel very confident about where Trinidad is headed
with the natural gas situation over the long term. We have
monthly and quarterly meetings with the Pt Lisas Energy
Association and representatives from NGC to discuss the
natural gas situation. We feel very good they are doing the
right things so that over the long term we are not going to
be facing some of the challenges we presently have with natural
Despite the restrictions in gas supply, Hess pointed out that
Nu-Iron set a production record in 2015, and was on pace to
do the same in 2016.
Nu-Iron s ability to perform as well as it has, even in troubling
times over the last 10 years, according to Hess, is directly a
function of the level of commitment of its staff and quality
of people that form the company. Hess was effusive in showering
praise on his team members.
He said: "I m really proud of the team we have here in
Trinidad. I ve spent 28 years at five other divisions within
Nucor and I can state, without any reservation, that the
Trinidad team measures up as well as any other team in the
group. The depth of talent, level of education and skill in engi-
neering, manufacturing and production and general commit-
ment and work ethic that I ve witnessed with the Trinidad
team is beyond phenomenal"
SEPTEMBER 15 • 2016 www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COVER STORY | BG5
Is Nucor interested in
ArcelorMittal's T&T assets?
From Page 4
A few the employees at Nu-Iron Unlimited.
The company--- 155 strong---has a very low
employee turnover, this according to general
manager, Mike Hess (INSET).
PHOTOS: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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