Monday, May 16, 2016

Liberty House re-opens Tredegar steelworks in the UK

Liberty House will re-open yet another steelworks next month (June 2016) as it steps up its drive to transform the UK steel industry.

As part of its GREENSTEEL strategy, Liberty is set to re-start steel pipe and tube manufacturing at Tredegar in the South Wales Valleys, closed by administrators in 2015. This is the 7th British steelworks Liberty House has re-opened in as many months. Tredegar was inaugurated by Prince Charles in 1977.  A second production line was inaugurated there by Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1978 and the heyday of this high-profile facility was in the 1980s and 1990s.

The re-opened plant will form the latest link in a British steel supply value chain Liberty is developing, that will encompass all stages of the process, using green energy to "upcycle" scrap steel from its melting through to the engineering of advanced products. Hot rolled coil for the plant will come from the rolling mill at nearby Liberty Steel Newport, itself re-started in October 2015, over two years after being mothballed.

Tredegar's output will replace some of the almost one million tonnes of steel tube currently imported into the UK each year for construction and manufacturing. The UK currently has one of the highest import dependency levels of this core product in the developed world. In preparation for the re-opening in June, the company has been re-contacting former workers from the plant. Tredegar will be expanding its range of products and is planning multiple training opportunities for young apprentices. The facility was part of the Caparo Industries group of steel and engineering companies rescued from administration by Liberty in November and December last year.

Several companies from the group are now thriving in the West Midlands, supplying a range of core and advanced products to automotive, aerospace and other‎ manufacturers. For example, last week Liberty Vehicle Technology's 920Engineering unit unveiled an industry-first fully-integrated parkbrake system, marketed to automotive OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) for high-spec vehicles.

Executive chairman of Liberty House, Sanjeev Gupta said: "Tredegar will once again supply steel tube domestically. This is great news for the UK steel industry and for skilled workers in South Wales. It is also another step in turning the tide for the UK's steel industry. Steel tube is a vital link in the supply chain and adds to the integration which is essential for the sector. 

"The steel ecosystem is at the heart of manufacturing, and the global oversupply of steel increases the need for the UK to refocus our industrial strategy around both reducing costs and adding value to steel. Without significant change we will lose the remaining cornerstone of manufacturing. Our plan is to restructure the sector around production efficiency, engineering integration, and innovation. Britain's outstanding skills, engineering and production knowledge and resources can re-invigorate the supply chain and bring about a new industrial renaissance."

Based on 25 years' experience in global steel markets, Liberty has developed its "GREENSTEEL"‎ vision for a clean, integrated and competitive UK steel industry, based on melting and upcycling the growing mountain of scrap in the UK.

According to a recent report from the University of Cambridge, the volume of recoverable steel emerging in the UK from sources ranging from scrap vehicles and household appliances to ageing Victorian infrastructure, is set to rise from 10m to 20m tonnes a year in the next decade. Around 70% of UK scrap generated is already exported for melting abroad, a far higher proportion than competitor countries. This is expected to increase substantially unless the UK builds high-tech recycling facilities to recover this resource.

Mr Gupta called for the development of a national strategy for the creation of a sustainable manufacturing base in the UK. "This is much bigger than steel. Resolving the steel crisis opens the door to the rejuvenation of manufacturing and making a host of high-value goods in this country. Government and industry need to agree a road map that contains a consistent approach to all the vital ingredients: competitive energy, competitive raw materials, innovation, skills, and an investment-friendly environment. The only way to stand up to the forces of globalization is with a value-adding game plan."


Andrzej M Kotas, MBA
Managing Director
Metals Consulting International Limited


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