Redcar steel coke ovens shut down by Official Receiver

The coke ovens at the Redcar steel works are to be shut down after last-minute attempts to find a buyer fell through.

Thai-owners SSI announced that they were to shut the factory at the end of September due to heavy financial losses in a difficult steel market resulting in 1,700 jobs losses.

Hopes were raised that the plant and the jobs could be saved following media reports that mining firm Hargreaves had expressed interest in maintaining operations on a temporary basis.

However, last week Hargreaves said that while it would like to support the plant it denied that it had the intentions to purchase it.

Following this, the plant was left in a state of limbo with 650 staff being kept on the books to operate the coke ovens and manage the site in a safe manner in the hope that another buyer could be found by the weekend.

The Official Receiver said that no viable offers have yet been submitted and the coke ovens would therefore begin shutting down with staff let go as was needed.

“SSI was placed into liquidation with substantial debts and had no funds available to purchase the coal needed to keep the coking ovens operational,” said the Official Receiver’s Ken Beasley.

“I have ensured the continued operation of the ovens whilst I dealt with health and safety issues and considered whether there were any viable offers for the ovens. There is no realistic prospect of a buyer being found and the priority now is to close the ovens down safely.

“I cannot continue to draw on taxpayers funds to keep the ovens operational when there is no realistic prospect that a buyer will be found.”

He said that he was now in talks with interested parties about purchasing SSI’s remaining assets.

Gareth Stace, the director of industry body UK Steel, recently blamed the closure on the difficult global market for steel resulting from low oil prices and an influx of cheap steel coming from China.

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