The Korean owners of a metal fabrication plant in Trenton, N.S., say it is "not in the immediate plan" to leave the community.

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Ltd. was responding Thursday to a media report the plant was heading to a shutdown. In a news release, the company says it is actively seeking new projects across the Maritimes, Canada and internationally.

"When entering new industries, challenges are faced and thus DSME Trenton is working to find a third investor in the plant to create more opportunity," the release says.

The company says in recent weeks it has been approached by wind turbine manufacturers, oil and gas companies, and "a variety of major players in the steel fabrication sector." It says it wants to "offer further well-paying jobs" in Trenton. 

"There is potential for new projects in all industries and DSME Trenton continues to be optimistic," the release says. 

The Nova Scotia government owns 49 per cent of the company's Trenton plant but doesn't know for sure what is going on at the operation.

According to a story in The Chronicle Herald, Daewoo is selling off inventory ahead of a shutdown.

'They were looking for a buyer'

But on Thursday, Premier Stephen McNeil could only speculate about that.

"They were looking for a buyer," he said.

"They were looking to find someone to come out to take it over or find new contracts. We haven't heard of someone who's going to take it over or find new contracts. They made it clear that at some point they would stop spending money, so I'm assuming that's where they're at."

The previous New Democratic government lured Daewoo to the province by offering the company $60 million in investments and loans. Some of the loans were forgivable.

In return, the province received a 49 per cent stake in the operation and a seat on the board of directors.

But according to Business Minister Mark Furey, that board member hasn't been informed the company plans to cease operations.

"We continue to work with the company to sustain the company in its present format and in the absence of that, look to other markets and other opportunities," he said.

'We hope someone comes and operates it'

Furey estimates there are as many as 100 people still working on site. He said the province helped buy the plant's state-of-the-art equipment and is keen to see it remain in place.

"No indication, that I'm aware of, of any disassembling of equipment or removal of any equipment that the province would have an interest in," he said.

As for what the province's half of the operation is worth, neither Furey nor the premier would venture a guess.

"Let's just say that we hope someone comes and operates it," said McNeil.

While in opposition, the Liberals were highly critical of the NDP government's decision to buy into the business. The party also didn't think it was fair for DSME to receive government help and compete for metal work other Nova Scotia companies were interested in.

McNeil said that message was conveyed to the company once the Liberals took power. He said DSME was specifically told not to go after bridge decking work.