Tata Steel has restarted its second blast furnace at the Port Talbot steelworks in the UK following the completion of a £185 million rebuilding project. The restarting of Blast Furnace No. 4 – the UK’s largest industrial engineering project last year – will improve Tata Steel’s operational flexibility and enable it to better serve customers in the UK and the rest of Europe.
The state-of-the-art new furnace is more efficient and will allow Tata Steel to continue to meet the demanding requirements of UK and European manufacturing industries. Production has now started and the molten iron from the furnace will be converted into high-quality steel for a wide range of customer sectors, including construction, automotive, lifting and excavating, domestic appliances and packaging.
Karl Köhler, CEO 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. The efficiency and sustainability of the new furnace will also make a major contribution to our efforts to create an ‘all-weather’ company in Europe.
“We have been able to take advantage of a period of low steel demand to carry out this major engineering project and we are still operating today in an intensely challenging commercial environment. Restarting the furnace will help us improve our delivery performance which will enable us to better serve our customers, but we will continue to manage our output at levels appropriate to market conditions.”
Blast Furnace No. 4 was decommissioned in July last year before being completely rebuilt, incorporating the latest technology to improve energy efficiency, environmental performance, safety standards and capacity. The requirements of Tata Steel’s customers were central to the rebuild project. The furnace has enhanced health, safety and environmental care facilities, making it a worldwide standard-setter as one of the most efficient in the world.
Further energy and environmental benefits will be gained from the recently-completed £55m energy-from-heat scheme at Port Talbot’s steelplant which will save 10MW of energy – enough to power 20,000 homes.
Michael Leahy, General Secretary of the Community trade union and Chair of the UK trade unions’ Steel Committee, said: “The project’s completion is a source of great pride and hope for the future of steelmaking 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.”
The start-up of the new furnace has enabled Tata Steel to restart its second hot strip mill in South Wales. In anticipation of the furnace restart, the Llanwern hot strip mill resumed production in December. The restarts give the company greater operational flexibility and enable it to better serve its customers.