South West Wales

Warm welcome for Port Talbot steelworks investment

Corus in Port Talbot
Image caption The work on the furnace is expected to start in around two years

Business leaders, politicians and unions have welcomed the news that there is to be a huge investment at Corus' Port Talbot steelworks.

Some £185m will be spent refurbishing a blast furnace at the plant raising hopes that production will continue at the site for several more decades.

The rebuild will extend the life of the furnace by 20 years.

The investment is also a boost for the Corus plant at Llanwern, Newport, which rolls steel produced at Port Talbot.

The work at the Port Talbot plant, which employs around 5,000 people, will start in around two years.

The rebuild will boost the capacity of the two blast furnaces by up to 400,000 tonnes per year.

The company called it a "major step" towards its ambition to make Port Talbot a global player in the production of high-quality steel products.

Uday Chaturvedi, who is managing director of the plant, said: "Two-and-a-half years ago, I came over to this place and, within a few months of my coming, we saw something which was globally hurting everybody.

"The biggest strength of this place, what I saw, was the belief in the people in themselves that they can make it happen.

"This is something which is also recognised by the Tata Steel group [which owns Corus].

"What they've done in the last 18 months is something which is phenomenal."

Unions said the investment was a huge boost for the area which promised a "sustainable future for the whole community".

Economy Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones, said: "This decision is a major boost for Port Talbot and the Welsh economy.

"Despite the current economic challenges we face, this investment shows Corus' confidence in Wales and the skills of the staff at Port Talbot who have worked tirelessly over recent years to make this site more efficient, more productive and able to compete.

"This new investment also shows that the Welsh assembly government was right to support and work closely with Corus during the tough times to give Port Talbot a strong future."

He said Corus was an "important anchor company" in Wales and ministers were pleased it would continue to play a "vital role" as they implemented plans for economic renewal.

The plant supplies steel for construction, car manufacture, packaging and mechanical engineering across the globe.

The integrated steelworks business, known as Corus Strip Products UK, also has a base at the Llanwern steelworks.

Between the two sites the business has the annual capacity to produce some 5m tonnes of steel.

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