Prince Charles will today mark a major milestone in the revival of Britain’s steel industry when he reignites the giant ‘N-Furnace’ at Liberty Speciality Steels in Rotherham.
The furnace, which can melt 800,000 tonnes of scrap a year, will triple Liberty’s capacity to melt scrap into liquid steel at Rotherham, making the company the largest steel recycler in the UK with a capability to melt over 1.2m tonnes a year.
In addition, it will enable the Rotherham plant to double production on its adjacent bar mill to over 400,000 tonnes a year.
The switch-on marks the culmination of five months of engineering work by a team of 35 people to repair and upgrade the equipment. Its products will be turned into specialised steel for uses including parts in gearboxes and aircraft landing gear.
The furnace will also play a ‘pivotal’ role in Liberty’s GreenSteel strategy, designed to usher in a cleaner and more competitive era for the industry in the UK.
After relighting the furnace, the Prince will move on to the Aldwark General Office at the plant, which has been renovated and re-opened as the new headquarters for Liberty Steel UK, having been empty for eight years.
There, His Royal Highness will meet several young people who have recently joined the company as apprentices or graduate trainees.
He will also be briefed by Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of the GFG Alliance, the group which owns Liberty, on progress towards a vision for an industrial revival based on renewable energy, metal recycling and integration of the supply chain.
Mr Gupta 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.”
Liberty paid Tata £100m for the business last year.