Scotland business

Weir Group to focus on mining after oil losses

Ore processing facility, Iron Bridge Image copyright Fortescue Metals Group
Image caption Weir Group's operations include a contract for Australia's Iron Bridge Magnetite Project, as US oil and gas has been challenging

Scottish engineering giant Weir Group has said it will focus on mining after suffering losses in US oil and gas.

It said there was rising demand for metals needed for batteries, as more companies sought to cut carbon.

It comes after Weir announced an annual pre-tax loss of £372m, including one-off costs.

The Glasgow firm said it was also developing technology to help the mining industry reduce its environmental impact.

In November, Weir issued a profit warning for its oil and gas division and axed a fifth of its US workforce in the face of tough trading.

Green 'pressure'

The company's mining equipment is used to extract ore, including most of the world's copper.

Weir chief executive Jon Stanton told the BBC radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "If the world is going to tackle climate change and carbon transition, then we need to electrify, and that implies we will need more copper, more lithium, cobalt and the other battery metals.

"They simply have to come from somewhere if we want to achieve those things."

Mr Stanton added: "The mining industry is under a lot of pressure to become more sustainable. We're the engineer with the technology that can help the industry transform itself."

The chief executive also said new rock-grinding technology could cut energy use by 30%, claiming: "Just selling a few of those can effectively offset the entire CO2 emissions footprint of Weir."

Coronavirus

At the same time Weir, which runs 11 foundries around the world, said it aimed to halve its own CO2 emissions by 2030.

Meanwhile, Mr Stanton said the spread of Coronavirus had given Weir "cause for concern", especially since it employs about 400 people in China.

He added: "They and their families are safe and well. We have no employees affected thus far, but we're watching it very closely.

"We're not back to full capacity at the moment, but the majority of our people are now back at work and the supply chain is ramping up."

For the latest business news as it happens, follow BBC presenter Andrew Black's updates each weekday morning on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme between 0600 and 0900.