Business boosts Yorkshire steel production

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Liberty Steel Group UK (LSUK) has announced plans to ramp up production at its plant in Rotherham.

The company has already made substantial investments in its steel operations in the town, which it acquired three years ago from Tata Steel, when the business was producing 225,000 tonnes per annum.

Since then, upgrades to the plant have doubled production to over 500,000 tonnes per annum.

Now the company has confirmed it will further boost production at Rotherham to over one million tonnes per annum.

It says it intends to exploit the UK market’s demand for reinforcement bar (rebar), which amounts to c.1.2 million tonnes annually, worth over £500m.

In a statement released on Monday – June 22 – Liberty Steel explains: “At present, half of this demand is met by imports, despite there being a surplus of scrap metal recovered in the UK which could be recycled into new steel products through Electric Arc Furnace.

“Given this gap in the market and further growth in construction expected from infrastructure projects such as HS2, LSUK is targeting this market by expanding its GREENSTEEL product range.

“LSUK is extending the product range of its Thrybergh Bar Mill at Rotherham to include the production of construction rebar from September 2020.

“There are also plans to add capability to produce wire rod to feed both engineering and construction markets.

“With this new product strategy, LSUK will supply UK produced GREENSTEEL into the pipeline of domestic infrastructure projects that will be vital to the UK’s recovery in the post-pandemic economy.”

Liberty Steel Group executive chairman, Sanjeev Gupta, said: “It has been three years since we acquired the business from Tata Steel and expanded steelmaking at Rotherham under our GREENSTEEL vision for the UK.

“Since then we’ve made vital upgrades to the plant, doubling production, and returned the business to profitability before it was affected by a Brexit impacted weak steel market in 2019 which has been followed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we make plans for a post-pandemic economy, we have challenged ourselves to think differently across our product mix, assets and cost base to improve competitiveness and prepare for a new future.

“With the new developments at Thrybergh Bar Mill the business is well prepared to win a greater share of the construction market in the UK with a competitive GREENSTEEL rebar offering for projects such as HS2 which will lead to a significant boost in production at Rotherham.”

Responding to the announcement, MP for Wentworth and Dearne John Healey, said: “This is a huge shot in the arm for steelmaking in Rotherham.

“These new plans from Liberty Steel Group are a big boost to the town at a time of wider economic crisis. It means Rotherham can lead the way in making British steel for British construction.”

It’s an interesting development for the UK steel industry which has faced multiple threats over recent years- with March seeing the completition of the sale of British steel to Chinese steelmaker, Jingye Group.

Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community union, said: “At a challenging time for our steel industry, Liberty reaffirming their commitment to the UK, while setting out an ambitious plan for the future, is extremely welcome.

“There is no doubt that steel will be vital to rebuilding and rebooting our economy and steel companies must be ready for the opportunities that will come.

“It is hugely encouraging that Liberty are investing so they can contribute to essential infrastructure projects like HS2 that will drive the recovery and create jobs.

“Community firmly believes Liberty’s strategy to displace steel imports is the right one, but we need Government to support this by using procurement policy to ensure our domestic infrastructure is built with our own steel.”