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16 April 2012, 05:30
Steelmaking's restarted at one of the UK's biggest steel plants, in Teesside, after plans were finalised to restart its blast furnace.
Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI) of Thailand relit the blast furnace at its Redcar site over the weekend, and the first iron suitable for conversion into steel will be produced within two or three days.
SSI bought the Teesside Cast Products plant from Indian firm Tata a year ago for around £400 million, rescuing the site from the prospect of closure.
Around 1,700 workers are now employed on the site and the figure will increase to 1,800, similar to the numbers on site under the previous ownership.
Redcar will produce steel slab, much of which will be exported to Thailand or sold on the open market for industries includes the automotive sector.
The move will mark the resumption of steelmaking on Teesside following the mothballing of the plant in February 2010.
Phil Dryden, chief executive of SSI UK, said:
"This is an historic event and I would like to record my appreciation to all those who have been involved, for their commitment and hard work, on what has been a complex and demanding restart programme.''
Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
"I look forward to SSI starting steel production once again in the North East. SSI and its workforce have worked very hard over the last year and should be congratulated on getting to this point.''
Unite national officer Paul Reuter said:
"This is great news for our members, the community and UK manufacturing. This is a testament and a great reflection of the skills of UK workers. These dedicated workers thoroughly deserve this and the long-term security of employment this brings for them.
It is also a testament to the trade unions and the community who campaigned and have worked positively with SSI to ensure that the site remained viable."