Port Talbot steel production restarts

13 February 2013
By Sofia Mitra-Thakur
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The Tata Steel plant in Port Talbot, South Wales

The Tata Steel plant in Port Talbot, South Wales

Production at a steel blast furnace has re-started after a £185 million rebuilding project.

Tata Steel said the furnace at its Port Talbot works in South Wales, will improve its operational flexibility.

The Number 4 blast furnace was decommissioned last summer before being completely rebuilt, in the UK's largest industrial engineering project of 2012.

Karl Köhler, chief executive of Tata Steel's European operations, said: "This rebuild has been a flagship investment, part of our strategy for long-term competitiveness in UK, EU and worldwide markets."

Wales's First Minister Carwyn Jones, said: "It has been a difficult period for steelmaking globally so it is heartening to hear that production has commenced at the new blast furnace.

"This represents a significant long-term investment in the plant and we will continue to work closely with Tata to ensure a bright, sustainable future for the facility.

"Tata Steel has faced a challenging trading environment, but this news shows the company's continued belief in its Welsh workforce."

Bosses promised the upgraded facility would have enhanced health and safety features as well as being more environmentally friendly.

The work took around four months to complete, and formed part of a £240 million investment at the site - including more than £50 million on upgrading the steel-making shop.

Production capacity will also double - making around more than four million tonnes of steel a year.

Michael Leahy, the general secretary of the Community trade union and chairman of the UK trade unions' Steel Committee, said: "The project's completion is a source of great pride and hope for the future of steel making in the UK.

"The blast furnace project created many jobs for local contracting firms, providing a real boost to the South Wales economy at a difficult time.

"Longer term, the rebuilt furnace marks the start of a new era of sustainable steelmaking in the UK."

Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said Tata's announcement was heartening.

"This represents a significant long-term investment in the plant and my government will continue to work closely with Tata to ensure a bright, sustainable future for the facility," he said.

"Tata Steel has faced a challenging trading environment, but this news shows the company's continued belief in its Welsh workforce."

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