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Surging Energy Costs Cripple UK Ceramics Industry

Soaring energy bills threaten to collapse the UK’s ceramics industry as energy-intensive industries in Europe continue to suffer from high energy costs.

Some ceramics companies have seen their energy bills jump tenfold, Bloomberg reports. The industry is forced to curtail production and cut jobs as the costs have become unsustainable for many manufacturers.

Despite the recent UK government support to businesses to cope with soaring energy costs, the ceramics industry needs additional support, the main association said earlier this month.

The industrial area around Stoke-on-Trent has seen difficulties this year, and some companies have had to close shop due to unbearable costs.

Early this month, pottery firm Wade Ceramics of Stoke-on-Trent ceased to trade and laid off 130 staff after seeing its annual energy bill jump by $604,000 (£500,000). 

Around a fifth of the 7,000 jobs in the UK’s pottery sector are at risk of disappearing over the next 18 months unless ceramics firms get additional financial support to cope with surging energy costs, GMB Union lead organizer Colin Griffiths told Bloomberg in an interview.

Earlier this month, the British Ceramic Confederation (BCC) said that ongoing government energy support is essential for the future of UK ceramics.

“UK ceramics is one of the most energy-intensive manufacturing industries in the UK, due to the need to fire products at very high temperatures. Therefore, the energy crisis has delivered a body blow to our sector,” said Rob Flello, chief executive of the BCC.

“As a gas-intensive industry, the rising costs are unsustainable, with manufacturing facing 10-fold and at times far higher energy price increases. Such volatile energy prices are adding tens of millions of pounds to company bills, with some seeing rises from £1.1m for six months to nearly £12m. Gas increases of up to 20 times previous levels are simply not sustainable,” Flello added.

“Whilst we welcomed the Government’s non-domestic Energy Bill Relief Scheme as a lifeline, their announcement of a review sparked concern. We warned that if Government support was downgraded, then this industry would be on a cliff edge. The Government must not leave us in a precarious position.”

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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