The owner of the Redcar steel plant was this week unable to name a date for the long-awaited and delayed reopening of the iconic facility.
Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI) had been due to restart steel production on 8 December 2011 at the Teesside Cast Products plant it bought from Tata Steel. It then put the reopening back to 6 January 2012 before cancelling that date just before Christmas.
An SSI spokesman told MRW the reopening was “weeks rather than months away” but could not give an exact date.
The delays are a blow to the recycling industry, with estimates that the plant could require up to 7,000 tonnes of recycled ferrous metal each week.
SSI said in December that “due to outstanding work still to be completed on the blast furnace, it will not be possible to restart the iron- and steel-making operations at its Teesside site on 6 January”.
The company blamed that delay on “unfavourable weather conditions, industrial action and additional unplanned, arising work”.
The Community steelworkers’ union said it was disappointed by the latest delay. Union officer Paul Talbot said the delay had been caused principally by industrial action by construction workers involved in a national dispute with contractors.
The SSI spokesman said the company did not anticipate further industrial action, but the possibility was “one of the risks we are working with”.
British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) director-general Ian Hetherington said:
“It is disappointing that the increased UK steel-making capacity represented by Redcar is yet further delayed, but BMRA members in the region are looking forward to commencing scrap deliveries.”
SSI bought the mothballed plant from Tata Steel in February 2011 in a deal worth £291m.
One scrap merchant in the north-east told MRW last year that the new plant could require up to 7,000 tonnes of scrap ferrous metal per week. SSI declined to comment on the amount and the BMRA said accurate figures were not available.