Tata Steel may delay relighting the No 4 blast furnace at Port Talbot if market demand towards the end of the year does not justify immediate production.
The £185 million project to rebuild the furnace will go ahead as planned. Preparations are on schedule to start the 125-day project in early July. The concurrent £53 million project to install a new cooling system in the Basic Oxygen Steelmaking plant will also go ahead as planned.
Jon Ferriman, Hub Director of Tata Steel’s Strip UK operations based at Port Talbot, said: “The possibility that we may not relight No 4 immediately following completion of the rebuild in no way affects the project itself. Our commitment to giving steelmaking in Wales the strongest possible future remains undiminished.
“By the end of this year Port Talbot will have two state-of-the-art blast furnaces equipped with enhanced safety and environmental features. The rebuilt furnace will be capable of producing larger volumes of hot metal more reliably over the course of a long 20-year campaign life.”
Tata Steel’s Chief Commercial Officer, Henrik Adam, said: “Any decision about when to restart No 4 needs to take the state of the European steel markets into account. We have been fortunate in being able to schedule the rebuild project during a period of relatively subdued demand, but we are conscious that there is likely to be a continuing need to stabilise the market once the rebuild is complete.
“We will only decide to delay the start-up of the furnace if it is clear an extended period of single-furnace operation at Port Talbot will not compromise the levels of delivery and service our customers require. We will continue to serve our customers by flexibly deploying the full range of our production facilities in Europe.”
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About Tata Steel in Europe
The European operations of Tata Steel comprise Europe's second largest steel producer. With main steelmaking operations in the UK and the Netherlands, they supply steel and related services to the construction, automotive, packaging, lifting & excavating, energy & power, aerospace and other demanding markets worldwide. Tata Steel is one of the world’s largest steel producers. The combined group has an aggregate crude steel capacity of more than 28 million tonnes and approximately 80,000 employees across four continents.