The UK’s largest steel plate mill has been reopened as part of Liberty House’s strategy to move to using 100% scrap metal as feedstock.
The Dalzell steel works at Motherwell, near Glasgow, was bought by international industrial group Liberty House in April following its closure by Tata in December 2015 amid the steel industry crisis.
Liberty has spent the past five months rebuilding the workforce and recommissioning equipment at the site, which includes the UK’s largest steel plate mill.
Speaking ahead of the event, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon described its revival as ”a very positive signal that the steel and engineering industries still have a future in Scotland”.
Liberty executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta said he aims to expand his company’s investment in Scotland in pursuit of its Greensteel strategy for a competitive, low-carbon and sustainable steel industry.
The Greensteel project is a strategy to manufacture products from 100% steel scrap using local energy in electric arc furnaces. Dalzell currently uses blast furnaces.
The company has already recruited around 120 staff for Dalzell, including some former employees, which it hopes will increase to more than 200 within 18 months as production rises in response to demand.
The plant, which has a production capacity of up to 500,000 tonnes a year, will target the UK’s 700,000 tonnes a year market for plate steel, which is estimated to be growing at the rate of 3% annually.
It has already secured a “significant number” of orders for plate from the construction and energy sectors.
At a local level it is estimated that the restart of Dalzell will be worth roughly £15m a year to the economy around Motherwell, both in wages and supply contracts awarded to local businesses.
Sturgeon said: “This is a fantastic day for Dalzell workers, for Motherwell and for Scotland’s steel industry.
“Restarting steel production has only been possible thanks to the tremendous team effort of everyone involved in the steel taskforce to find a viable future for this site, meaning workers here in Lanarkshire can once again produce world-class products.
“Liberty House is seizing an exciting opportunity, and the Scottish Government and its agencies will continue to work with Sanjeev Gupta and his team to ensure a successful future in Scotland.”
Gupta said the neighbouring Clydebridge steel works at Cambuslang would also come back on-stream in due course as market conditions allowed.
“We see great opportunities for investment in Scotland and regard this as a fertile business environment in which to deliver our Greensteel vision,” he said.
Jon Bolton, chief executive of Liberty Steel UK Plates & UK Steel Development, said: “We now intend to ramp up production as quickly as the market will allow.”