Commodities investor Liberty House is planning to re-open its seventh steelworks in as many months in June, the company announced today.
The company is set to restart steel pipe and tube manufacturing at Tredegar in the South Wales Valleys, which was closed last year, and the re-opened plant will form the latest link in a British steel supply value chain Liberty House is developing through its Greensteel strategy.
The company is using green energy to "upcycle" scrap steel from its melting through to the engineering of advanced products.
Liberty House has been one of the most active investors in the UK steel industry since the crisis was triggered last year, most recently announcing that it had submitted an expression of intent for Tata's UK assets.
Hot rolled coil for the Tredegar 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.
Liberty House executive chairman, 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.
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 per cent 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.
In a statement, Gupta also 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," Gupta said. "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."