British Steel ‘fully operational’, to launch new products for UK infrastructure drive

Six months following its takeover by Chinese private-sector steelmaker Jingye Group, British Steel is developing new products to support the UK’s infrastructure drive, CEO Ron Deelen said Sept. 24, without giving further details of the planned product launch.

It is also embracing more flexible ways of working, entering more markets and investing in its assets to modernize plant and improve performance, the CEO said.

The 3 million mt/year crude steel capacity company has maintained stable production throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and is fully operational, in ironmaking, steelmaking and all rolling mill operations, a spokesman said.

“Britain needs to build for the future and we can play an important role in major infrastructure projects like [high-speed rail project] HS2, which needs large quantities of high-quality products like our rail and constructional steel,” Deelen said in a statement. “The benefits of UK manufacturers being at the heart of HS2, and similar ventures, will be felt far and wide. For example, every 1,000 mt of steel produced in this country creates work for 10 people – directly and in the supply chains and communities in which we operate.”

Previously owned by Greybull Capital, British Steel entered compulsory liquidation in May 2019 and was purchased by Jingye in March. It is the UK’s second-largest steelmaker behind Tata Steel, and has primary blast furnace production at Scunthorpe Steelworks and rolling facilities at Skinningrove and Teesside in the UK. It produces construction steel, rail, wire rod, special profiles and semi-finished steel products.

At the time of the takeover, Jingye pledged to invest GBP1.2 billion ($1.53 billion) into British Steel, including improvements to production infrastructure, with the construction of an electric arc furnace in Teesside, creating 800 jobs in the area.

According to S&P Global Platts data, the company produces 96% of the UK rail network’s steel rail, with Network Rail alone taking 100,000 mt/year. Other major customers are JCB, Caterpillar and South Africa’s Robor.

The former British Steel’s assets in France – the Hayange rail mill and special steels producer Ascoval – were recently sold to GFG Alliance’s Liberty Steel Group.

— Diana Kinch