South East Wales

Newport scrap steel recycle plan could bring 600 jobs

The Tredegar plant was officially re-opened on Thursday
Image caption The Tredegar plant was officially re-opened on Thursday

Up to 600 jobs could be created within two years if a firm starts recycling steel from scrap at its site in Newport as expected.

BBC Wales understands the expansion at Liberty Steel in Lliswerry would see scrap metal melted in an arc furnace before being turned into new products.

The news comes as the firm reopens a steel plant it took over in Tredegar after previous owners Caparo went into administration.

About 70 jobs will be created there.

Seventeen staff jobs were lost at the Tredegar plant when Caparo Tubes went into administration back in October 2015.

Liberty is investing £3.7m at the site including £600,000 of "business finance" from the Welsh Government.

Duncan Torrance, production manager, was one of the workers who lost his job in Tredegar but is now back under the new ownership.

"We know we've got a good product, the certification is top class - the quicker we can get the customers back, the sooner we can get people back [working] with us," he said.

"It's going to be over a period of time but if the sales warrant it, it's going to happen a lot sooner."

Image caption Sanjeev Gupta said the Tredegar plant would be part of a chain in south Wales

Liberty's executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta said the reopening of Tredegar would make it "important part of the jigsaw" in south Wales, with steel coil coming from the Liberty plant in Newport.

He said the aim with the city plant was to collect scrap and turn it into liquid steel to go into making slabs, which are currently imported.

"Newport used to produce 2m tonnes of liquid steel so we're trying to reinstate a million tonnes of that - and the timeline to reinstate those hot furnaces, subject to everything going well, is two years," he said.

Mr Gupta said it was a "crying shame" that the UK was currently the largest per capita exporter of scrap.

"We have plenty of scrap already, we export 6m-7m tonnes of it, and our supply is only going to grow and grow and that is where the opportunity lies."

First Minister Carwyn Jones, who attended the reopening on Thursday, said it was "good news for our steel industry".

"Liberty has a proven track record within the steel sector and is one of a few companies expanding in today's challenging climate," he said.

"This is another strong commitment from Liberty and I welcome their plans to modernise the site and employ former staff, retaining local skills."

Image caption The plan is for the Tredegar plant to make products from steel recycled from Liberty's plant in Newport

Production restarted at Liberty's Newport plant in October 2015, two-and-a-half years after it was mothballed, and earlier this year Mr Gupta said expanding it to recycle scrap could eventually create 1,000 jobs.

In April, the company bought Tata Steel's mothballed steelworks in Scotland, and it had been bidding to buy Tata's Welsh operations, including Port Talbot, but the sales process has stalled.

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