TIME is running out for a buyer to be found for the closure- threatened Corus plant.

The Indian owners of the Teesside Cast Products (TCP) plant, Tata Steel, has set a date of February 16 to reach a final decision.

Union bosses and politicians have been working round the clock to find a buyer for the plant.

In an interview with Indian news channel CNBC, Tata Steel managing director Hemant Nerurkar said it would honour its agreement with unions to keep the plant going until raw material stocks had run out.

He said: “On the 16th, a final announcement will be made on what he (Corus chief executive Kirby Adams) is planning to do.”

Earlier this month, workers received a stay of execution when it was confirmed the blast furnaces would stay in operation until the end of next month or when raw materials ran out.

The unions are believed to have brought in specialist advisors to help prepare a business plan that convinces the Government and Tata that TCP is a viable operator.

Geoff Waterfield, chairman of TCP’s multi-union committee, said he was reluctant to go to the Government without a watertight proposal.

He said: “I am not playing with people’s lives. The Government has not had an opportunity to fail yet, and I am not going to give them one.

“That is why it is important that whatever we go to Government with is right. Only then will we get a realistic financial opportunity for the plant.”

■ The Northern Echo reported this week that an Asian steel company has expressed interest in buying a stake in TCP, but another party is needed to join the deal.