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20 Jan, 2024 13:35

UK to become only G20 member without steel production

Thousands of jobs will be axed at the country’s biggest steelworks as part of a major green restructuring
UK to become only G20 member without steel production

Steel producer Tata Steel plans to close blast furnaces at its Port Talbot plant in South Wales and lay off nearly 3,000 workers, according to media reports. The move, which is part of a major restructuring of the company’s UK operations, will reportedly leave the UK as the only G20 economy unable to make steel from scratch.

The planned move, which was first reported by the Financial Times this week, is part of Indian-owned Tata Steel’s four-year transition to a greener form of steelmaking at the company’s UK steel operations, which employ 8,000 people, and involve sites elsewhere in Wales and the Midlands. While the blast furnaces at Port Talbot will be shut down, the company intends to build electric arc furnaces, which make steel from recycled scrap. The government has promised up to £500 million ($634 million) to help with the transition.

Meanwhile, the two other remaining blast furnaces in the UK, both of which belong to the Chinese-owned company British Steel, are also slated for shutdown as the parent entity plans to replace them with two electric arc facilities, which could be operational as early as 2025.

“That would leave the UK as the only G20 country that cannot make steel from raw materials,” The Guardian wrote.

“Steel is the beating heart of manufacturing and of our entire infrastructure and, of course, of our national security,” Stephen Kinnock, a Labour MP for Aberavon, home of the Port Talbot plant, told Sky News. “Do we really want to be a country, given the dangerous and turbulent world in which we live, that isn’t able to produce its own steel?” he said.

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