Reopened plants to produce '˜weathering' steel for bridges

Two Scottish steel plants are to restart the manufacturing of heavy-duty products used in structures such as bridges and public art sculptures to help 'ensure a brighter future for the workforce'.

Dalzell is the last remaining large plate steel mill in the UK. Picture: Lenny Warren
Dalzell is the last remaining large plate steel mill in the UK. Picture: Lenny Warren

So-called “weathering” steel was produced at the Dalzell and Clydebridge facilities in the past and on buying the operations last year management at metals group Liberty House said they were keen to bring it back.

Production of the material is expected to restart in the coming weeks, bringing increased work for both the Dalzell rolling mill in Motherwell and the Clydebridge plant in Cambuslang.

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Workers at Dalzell will staff the Clydebridge plant on an interim basis until demand enables the creation of a permanent workforce at both sites. Some 120 Dalzell workers were re-employed when Liberty House bought the plants after former owner Tata ceased production in 2015 with the loss of 270 jobs.

Faced with the closure of the last major steelworks in Scotland, the Scottish Government stepped in with a deal involving ministers buying the plants from Tata and immediately selling them on to Liberty.

Announcing the reintroduction of the weathering steel to the plants, Drew McGhie, managing director of Liberty Steel Dalzell, said: “By expanding the number of grades we make, we can ensure a brighter future for the workforce.

“We’ve started making use of the Clydebridge equipment over recent months but the addition of weathering steel to our range means we will now be using that plant more regularly.”

He said there were great market opportunities for weathering steel, which also features in building facades, as production in the UK is currently limited with almost all of the products imported from continental Europe.

Dalzell is the last remaining large plate mill in the UK and makes steel that is used in areas such as construction, ship-building, pipelines, cranes and heavy vehicle manufacture.

The plant forms part of Liberty’s “Greensteel” vision as it uses renewable energy in the form of biodiesel to power its rolling mill and other equipment. The site currently has 18 megawatts of installed bio-diesel electricity generating capacity.

Following its recent acquisition of the former Tata pipe mills at Hartlepool, Liberty said it intended to start making plate steel at its Scottish sites that can be rolled at Hartlepool into the highest specification oil and gas pipelines.