Prince Charles reignites previously mothballed steel furnace
The Prince of Wales will today reignite a previously mothballed furnace, a glimmer of hope for the UK’s steel industry that has suffered job losses and facility closures in recent years.
The restart of the electric arc furnace, which was mothballed by previous owners during the steel crisis two and a half years ago, is part of a multi-million-pound investment by the Liberty House Group that is creating 300 new jobs at Rotherham and its sister plant in Stocksbridge, as well as many hundreds more across the country.
In February last year Tata Steel signed a £100m deal to sell its speciality steel business to Liberty House Group after months of deliberation and dire warnings about the future of the sector in the UK.
Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of the Liberty House Group, said: “Switching this furnace back on today, after it had lain idle for more than two years, is a pivotal moment in the revival of UK steelmaking and we are very pleased His Royal Highness is able to share this hugely symbolic milestone with us.
“The occasion makes a very powerful statement that steel does have a future in Britain and that is very good news for the whole of our manufacturing and engineering sector.”
The 800,000-tonne-a-year furnace, which turns scrap metal into specialised steels for uses such as vehicle gearboxes or aircraft landing gear, will now play a pivotal role in Liberty’s overall “Greensteel” strategy, designed to usher in a cleaner and more competitive era for the industry in the UK.
During his visit Prince Charles will meet Liberty apprentices and graduate recruits who will form part of a new generation of skilled workers for the steel sector and wider industry.
Liberty Group has said it has “a strong commitment to developing young people’s skills” and is recruiting a dozen of graduates and 20 apprentices this year to train in engineering, technical and support roles.
The company delivers bespoke training at the dedicated apprentice centre it runs in collaboration with Sheffield College on its Stocksbridge site.
When it bought the business in May 2017, Liberty pledged to restart the furnace as part of an initial £20m investment plan to expand the Speciality operation and create an additional 300 jobs.