First production at Dalzell in 10 months

John McCreadie cuts the first slab as the Dalzell works prepares to reopen
John McCreadie cuts the first slab as the Dalzell works prepares to reopen

Preparations for the restart of plate rolling operations at Dalzell work later this month has taken another step forward.

The newly-recruited workforce at the Motherwell plant has began cutting steel slabs, the first production activity to take place since the site was shut down 10 months ago in the midst of the steel industry crisis.

International industrial and metals group, Liberty House, who bought the plant from Tata Steel in April after the Scottish Government stepped in to oversee negotiations, has now hired 110 people from the area and is getting close to the number needed to recommence operations.

The recruits include many former employees who have returned, as well as those new to the industry including several apprentices who have begun training for a variety of jobs.

With the plant already securing a number of orders, workers have begun cutting 30-tonne steel slabs into two metre long sections in readiness for rolling into plate steel which is used in a range of industries including the construction, vehicle manufacture and energy sectors.

So far 10,000 tonnes of slab have been delivered to Dalzell from the British Steel works at Scunthorpe, while employees continue their work to recommission the giant rolling mill.

Trial rolling is expected to begin in the next fortnight with a formal restart of production scheduled for Wednesday, September 28.

Jon Bolton, chief executive of Liberty Steel UK Plates & UK Steel Development, said: “We’re getting very close to the point where we can start making steel plate at Dalzell once again.

“With the start of slab-cutting this week and, with excellent progress being made on recommissioning of the rolling mill, we are right on target to keep our promise to have the works fully operational again in the Autumn.”

Liberty employs around 3,000 people in 30 countries on five continents and has a turnover of $4.3 billion.