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Production pruning - TATA Steel to idle Queen Bess BF
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Saturday, 10 Sep 2011
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Scunthorpe Telegraph reported that the weak state of the UK's manufacturing and construction industry has caused TATA Steel bosses to bring forward the mothballing of the Queen Bess blast furnace on the Scunthorpe site.

As per report, the 73 year old furnace will now go out of operation on September 20th 2011, ten days earlier than planned, making the works a two furnace business.

Mr Jon Bolton, the director of the Scunthorpe based Long Products hub, said that "Our immediate concern is the deteriorating strength of UK manufacturing, with output and new orders falling. The UK construction market, in particular, still remains weak. As a consequence, we have brought forward the mothballing of the third blast furnace in Scunthorpe. We are now planning to do this on September 20th 2011. This is in line with other European steel plants which are extending blast furnace shutdowns or reducing production levels."

Mr Bolton and his colleagues insist the closures of the Bloom 750 Caster and the bloom and billet mill will go ahead as planned this month and next month. No deadline has yet been decided for the mothballing of the billet caster and the future jobs of 40 employees.

Mr Bolton added that "We've had some really constructive discussions with the unions to date. We all agree that we have the right strategy to secure the future of the Long Products business, targeting high value markets, reducing costs and introducing greater flexibility into our business. As part of that new strategy, the company committed GBP 400 million of investment into the business over the next five years. We are on track to deliver that and have so far agreed to invest GBP 70 million to improve our manufacturing capability. For our employees, though, the most important aspect of the restructuring was always going to be the impact on jobs. This is a very difficult process for everyone concerned, and we have to take some hard decisions which affect people’s futures."

(Sourced from www.thisisscunthorpe.co.uk)

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