STEEL group Liberty House has announced a series of investments that will drive forward its GreenSteel strategy for the UK, investing in new plant and creating jobs.
The news comes as the company completed its £100m (US$129m) purchase of the Speciality Steels division of Tata Steel UK. The deal secures the jobs of 1,700 staff at sites in Rotherham, Stocksbridge and Brinsworth in South Yorkshire, along with smaller sites in Bolton, Lancashire and Wednesbury in the West Midlands, and two distribution centres in China.
Specialty Steels produces high-value steels used in the manufacture of vehicles, aircraft, industrial machinery and equipment for the oil and gas industry.
Liberty says it will invest up to £20m next year in new plant and equipment to boost the competitiveness of the business, with plans to increase output at the electric arc furnaces, casting shop and bar mill in Rotherham.
The company said that the acquisition marks a major step forward for its GreenSteel strategy as it gives the group the largest arc furnace capacity in the UK, which it describes as a key component in its plan to increase low-carbon steel production based on recycling metal in furnaces powered by renewable energy.
It revealed its GreenSteel strategy in 2016 after it bought and reopened two steel plate mills in Scotland that Tata had closed in 2015. The plan to bring about an industrial renaissance in the UK’s steel sector has three key elements. These are investing in: electric arc furnaces alongside existing blast furnaces so the UK can begin recycling its own steel; low-cost, long-term renewable power close to steel plants; and engineering companies that use its steel to produce advanced components for UK-based growth industries, including renewable power.
Liberty said its sister company SIMEC is actively considering investing in bio-diesel power generation at Speciality Steel sites. Meanwhile, Liberty’s precision products unit already buys metals from Specialty Steels. Therefore, the purchase and increase in expansion will help reduce supply-chain gaps in the UK, especially in the automotive and aerospace sectors, said company chairman Sanjeev Gupta.
“By investing to acquire Speciality Steels we are casting a big vote of confidence in the future of British industry. With the right business model and an innovative approach, the UK steel and engineering sectors can recover and thrive. The government is now pursuing a new post-Brexit industrial strategy and steel must be at the heart of that strategy,” Gupta added.
In February, Liberty appointed an expert panel including engineers and politicians to advise the UK on how it can develop a low-carbon metals sector.
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