Interest from a metals group in Tata Steel’s two mothballed Lanarkshire plants is a “positive step” for those aiming to keep them open, the business minister has said.
Fergus Ewing insisted there was a “degree of optimism” after Liberty House emerged as a potential buyer for the Dalzell and Clydebridge works.
His comments came after the Scottish Government’s steel taskforce met on Thursday to discuss the future of the plants, which support 270 jobs.
Efforts are continuing to secure a new commercial operator, with a possible deal with Greybull Capital emerging last month.
Tata announced 1,200 UK job losses in October.
In the wake of the announcement, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed a taskforce would be established to try and keep the plants in Motherwell and Cambuslang open.
Speaking after the group held its fifth meeting, Mr Ewing said: “The taskforce welcomed the interest of Liberty (House) Group and agreed it was a positive step in our objective to keep the Dalzell and Clydebridge plants open.
“While nothing is yet agreed, there is a degree of optimism at the current situation.
“Time is of the essence and the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise can offer support to any new commercial operator wishing to restart operations, with action being taken forward on energy costs, business rates, procurement and on environmental issues.
“All members of the taskforce will continue to do everything possible to secure a sustainable future for Scottish steel.”
A support package of £195,000 to retain key staff at the plants has previously been agreed by ministers.
A number of employees will be paid about 60% of gross salary and receive advanced training to ensure the sites can reopen quickly as and when production resumes, the Scottish Government said.