THE company behind an 11th hour offer to save part of the steel operations at Redcar will “wind down operations with immediate effect” unless a deal is struck.

In an update to the London Stock Exchange this morning, Hargreaves Services said it was deeply disappointed by the liquidation of SSI UK and the impact on its workforce, contractors and Teesside community.

Hargreaves has submitted a plan to the official receivers of SSI to take on the 162 coke ovens at Redcar, as reported in The Northern Echo – but it stressed the plan does not include buying the steelworks with a view to restarting it.

However the deal would have meant the coke ovens would be kept on while options for the site were explored – including the possibility of finding a buyer.

If the coke ovens burn out, which they were expected to by this morning without intervention from Hargreaves or the official receiver, they will be lost forever.

In its statement Hargreaves said: “Hargreaves has, over the last three years, committed significant effort, credit lines, services and expertise to support the operation at Redcar.

“Given the importance of maintaining the coke ovens to secure the option to resume steelmaking in the future we have made ourselves available to SSI, the UK Government and other stakeholders to support the development of plans that might secure the coke oven operations.”

Hargreaves said it was willing to support “any viable plan” to prevent the coke ovens from being destroyed.

“In the absence of such a plan being developed and implemented, we have prepared plans to wind down operations on site with immediate effect,” it said.

SSI’s liquidation has left Hargreaves with excess coal and coke stocks of about £14m, which it said had been carefully managed and would be turned into cash “in an orderly fashion” in the next 12 months.