Liberty Steel set to double output at Rotherham plant

Liberty Steel Group 23062020
Liberty Steel Group 23062020

Liberty Steel Group UK (LSUK) has set out the next phase of its GreenSteel strategy, with investment programmes focused on an evolving market demand and gaps in the domestic supply chain.

LSUK has made large investments in the Rotherham steel operations it acquired three years ago from Tata Steel, when the business was producing just 225,000 tonnes per annum.

GreenSteel aims to recycle the growing mountain of scrap steel, using electric arc furnaces powered by renewable and low carbon energy.

Prince Charles switched on the second Electric Arc Furnace at Rotherham, and ignited Sanjeev Gupta’s GreenSteel strategy. This together with various upgrades to the plant has enabled the business to more than double production at Rotherham to over 500,000 tonnes per annum.

LSUK has now announced that it will boost production further at Rotherham to over one million tonnes per annum through investments to expand its product mix and making more productive use of its rolling mills to target attractive market segments.

UK market demand for reinforcement bar (rebar) amounts to c.1.2 million tonnes annually, worth over £500 million.

At present, half of this demand is met by imports, despite there being a surplus of scrap metal recovered in the UK which could be recycled into new steel products through electric arc furnaces.

Given this gap in the market and further growth in construction expected from infrastructure projects such as HS2, the company is targeting this market by expanding its GreenSteel product range.

LSUK is extending the product range of its Thrybergh Bar Mill at Rotherham to include the production of construction rebar from September 2020. There are also plans to add capability to produce wire rod to feed both engineering and construction markets.

With this new product strategy, LSUK will supply UK-produced GreenSteel into the pipeline of domestic infrastructure projects that will be vital to the UK’s recovery in the post-pandemic economy.

Commenting on the plans, group executive chairman, Sanjeev Gupta said: “It has been three years since we acquired the business from Tata Steel and expanded steelmaking at Rotherham under our GreenSteel vision for the UK. Since then we’ve made vital upgrades to the plant, doubling production, and returned the business to profitability before it was affected by a Brexit impacted weak steel market in 2019 which has been followed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As we make plans for a post-pandemic economy, we have challenged ourselves to think differently across our product mix, assets and cost base to improve competitiveness and prepare for a new future. With the new developments at Thrybergh Bar Mill the business is well prepared to win a greater share of the construction market in the UK with a competitive GreenSteel rebar offering for projects such as HS2 which will lead to a significant boost in production at Rotherham.”

Under plans announced across GFG Alliance to achieve 20-30% efficiency gains, LSUK is continuing with its turnaround plans at its Stocksbridge site which produces high value steels for demanding applications such as the aerospace industry.

LSUK’s energy pipe business in Hartlepool is currently working through its best order book position in over six years and the Performance Steels business in West Bromwich has exceeded planned sales of its steel strip for specialist saw and cutting blade applications.

Other LSUK businesses in Dalzell, Newport and Scunthorpe have continued to work safely through the pandemic meeting customer demand efficiently.

Liberty Steel Group www.libertysteelgroup.com

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