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British Steel, struggling with rising costs and demands, may close ovens and cut jobs Featured

Citing an “unprecedented rise” in running costs, inflation and the need to make its operations greener, British Steel reported proposals to close ovens and cut 260 jobs.

At its website, the company announced proposals to close its coke ovens as part of its drive to overcome global economic challenges and build a green and sustainable future. The company, which noted that its bills for energy and carbon increased by £190 million last year, said that decisive action is required “because of the unprecedented rise in operating costs, surging inflation and the need to improve environmental performance.” That response could include the loss of up to 260 jobs at the Scunthorpe plant.

Three years ago, the struggling British Steel operation was bought out of receivership by China’s Jingye Group. British Steel CEO Xifeng Han said that for the operation to continue its crucial role, the company has to undergo “the biggest transformation in our 130-year history” because of extreme conditions. “We have taken action to reduce costs within our control; however, steelmaking in the U.K. remains uncompetitive when compared to other international steelmakers. Our energy costs, carbon costs and labor costs are some of the highest across the world, which are factors that we cannot influence directly.”

The company’s coke oven at its British Steel’s integrated steelmaking site in Scunthorpe is reaching the end of its operational life and its closure would bring environmental benefits, including reductions in emissions to air and water. British Steel held talks with the U.K. government representatives last summer, and is hoping it can help the company continue making home-made steel Britain needs for generations to come. “We’re disappointed at having to make such proposals but are confident they will support a successful transformation.”

“We appreciate this may be an unsettling period for our people and we will give them our full support. We haven’t set any deadlines but aim to keep the period of uncertainty for our colleagues as short as we can. We’ll ensure this process is handled in a sensitive manner,” Han said. He noted that the company has taken positive steps. Those include the installations of a £54 million billet caster and a £26 million mast service center, both of which are scheduled to come online this year, while a near £50 million upgrade to its wire rod mill continues and is set to be completed next year. Other investments include £30 million for new unloaders for British Steel’s port facility, £14.6 million for improvements in energy operations, £9 million for a new rail stocking facility and £12 million to upgrade IT systems.

Read 530 times Last modified on April 6, 2023