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31 January 2012, 10:59
Most of the work needed to restart production at a giant Teesside steel plant has been completed.
Thailand's Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI) bought the mothballed Teesside site a year ago from Tata Steel and had hoped to restart production in December.
The company said in a statement:
"In giving a progress report on preparations for the restart of iron and steel-making at its Teesside site, SSI UK announced on Tuesday that the heating up schedule for the blastfurnace stoves has now commenced.
The four stoves, which are gas-heated, form an integral part of the blastfurnace operation and their function is to heat the blast of air which is blown into the furnace during the iron-making process.
The gradual heating up of the stoves will take a number of weeks to complete and for them to be brought up to the required working temperature of circa 1,200C.''
Phil Dryden, chief executive of SSI UK, said:
"We have made good progress on the project during January and over 90% of the work is now completed.
The heating up of the blastfurnace stoves is a significant milestone in the programme leading to the restart of operations and I am looking forward to us completing the remaining work over the next few weeks.
The finishing line is now in sight and we will announce the blastfurnace blow-in date within the next few weeks.''
The site in Redcar was mothballed in early 2010 after a consortium of companies withdrew from a 10-year supply contract, putting the future of the plant in doubt.