British Steel plans to replace BFs with EAFs

British Steel has announced plans to replace its integrated steelmaking in the UK with two electric arc furnaces from late 2025, to become a cleaner, greener and more sustainable business.

The proposal is still subject to approval by the UK government. The EAFs would be located in Scunthorpe (where the integrated steelmaking is now concentrated) and in Teesside.

“The new furnaces could be operational by late 2025 and would replace the aging iron and steelmaking operations in Scunthorpe which are responsible for the vast majority of the company’s CO2 emissions. The company proposes maintaining current operations until a transition to electric arc steelmaking. British Steel has started preliminary talks with trade unions about electrification, and has promised to support employees affected by the decarbonisation plans,” the company said in a statement seen by Kallanish.

The new plan adds to the the low-carbon roadmap unveiled by the company back in October 2021. With the decision to replace BFs with EAFs the company now targets a reduction in CO2 intensity of around 75%.

Initially the company was planning to have one large electric arc furnace in Scunthorpe to produce all steel grades needed, but feasibility studies confirmed that such large operation would require a new National Grid connection not ready before 2034. As a consequence the company decided to focus its strategy on two smaller furnaces at the two sites.

Under the latest proposal the new steel plant in Scunthorpe would consist of one 130-tonne electric arc furnace; two 130-tonne ladle furnaces, one 130-tonne degasser and two continuous casters. The new steel plant at Teesside would consist of one 100-tonne electric arc furnace, one 100-tonne ladle furnace, one 100-tonne vacuum degasser and two continuous casters to supply Teesside Beam Mill and Skinningrove.

The announcement was met with fierce criticism by local trade unions, concerned with the plan to drastically cut the workforce of the Scunthorpe site. TUC commented: “British Steel must halt these plans and get around the table with unions. Closing down the blast furnaces at the Scunthorpe plant would have a devastating impact on staff and the local community.” The union also stressed that “other countries have shown that it is possible to transition to zero-carbon steel making and protect good steel-making jobs for the future.”

Emanuele Norsa Italy