British Steel is to reveal more details about £1.25billion plans to transform its operations in Teesside and Scunthorpe

Earlier this month, the steel manufacturer unveiled ambitious plans for the biggest transformation in its history with a proposal to become a clean, green and sustainable business by adopting electric arc furnace steelmaking.

The plans, which are subject to appropriate support from the UK Government, could see British Steel install two electric arc furnaces (EAFs) – the first at its headquarters in Scunthorpe, the second at its manufacturing site 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.

In December, it will stage four events – two each in Scunthorpe and Teesside – for people requiring more information about its plans.

British Steel CEO and President, Xijun Cao, said: “We have already engaged extensively with the public and private sectors to understand the feasibility of producing net zero steel with our current blast furnace operations. Thorough analysis shows this is not viable which is why we are proposing to transform our operations so we can make the net zero steel the UK will need for decades to come.

“We’d now like to consult with the people living in our communities about our proposals to adopt a clean and sustainable way of making steel.

“At the events, people will have the chance to see our plans in greater detail and ask questions about the planning implications for our proposals. Feedback from the events will be used to shape any future planning applications we may make.”

The events are:

  • Teesside: Tuesday 5 and Wednesday 6 December 2023, between 13:00 and 18:00 hours, at The Paddock Suite, Redcar Racecourse, Redcar Lane, Redcar TS10 2BY.
  • Scunthorpe: Friday 8 December 2023, between 11:00 and 15:00 hours, at the 20-21 Visual Arts Centre, Church Square, Scunthorpe DN15 6TA.
  • Saturday 9 December 2023, between 10:00 and 13:00 hours at Scunthorpe Central Library, Carlton Street, DN15 6TX.

There is no need to book for any of the events, people can simply attend on the day.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “The return of steelmaking is fantastic news for our area and for local jobs.

"Everything we do and every Investment we attract is for local people and it is right that they are involved in this project from the start. 

"Lots of hard work has gone into getting us to this point and now the local community has its chance to get behind the project and get us moving towards the construction of the furnace as soon as possible. 

“I would urge people from communities across our area to come and look at the plans in detail at Redcar racecourse and show their full support for this project so that the council process the planning application quickly. This is an incredible project that will reignite steel making on Teesside and allow us once again build the world.”

British Steel unveiled its Low-Carbon Roadmap in October 2021, pledging to invest in a range of technologies to deliver net-zero steel by 2050, and significantly reduce its CO2 intensity by 2030 and 2035. However, the company is now proposing to accelerate its decarbonisation journey with the potential new operating structure able to reduce its CO2 intensity by more than 75 per cent.

Xijun said: “Our desire to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint, coupled with current market conditions, means we can’t wait and need to transform our business as quickly as possible. And while decarbonisation will not happen overnight, it’s imperative we take swift and decisive action to ensure a sustainable future for British Steel.

“We studied having one large electric arc furnace based in Scunthorpe, one which was capable of manufacturing all of the steel we require for our rolling mills in the Humber and the North East. However, such a large furnace would require a new National Grid connection and it is anticipated this would not be available until 2034. We therefore believe the most viable and timely option is to have 2 smaller furnaces which combine to produce the volumes of steel we require.”

British Steel has conducted feasibility studies into introducing EAFs to Scunthorpe and Teesside, and discussed the potential changes to its operations with North Lincolnshire Council, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and the Tees Valley Combined Authority.

Because of the need to decarbonise its operations at pace, and the planning processes required, the company has submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Request to North Lincolnshire Council. This would enable British Steel to meet appropriate timeframes should it decide to press ahead with the proposals and it be successful in securing planning approvals.

British Steel has started preliminary talks with trade unions about electrification, and has promised to support employees affected by the decarbonisation plans. It has agreed for its proposals to be reviewed by an external specialist on behalf of the trade unions.

Darlington and Stockton Times: There will be a series of eventsThere will be a series of events (Image: British Steel)

The company is also working with North Lincolnshire Council on a masterplan to attract new businesses and jobs to the Scunthorpe site, parts of which could become vacant if the proposals go ahead.

British Steel’s main manufacturing base is in Scunthorpe where it has blast furnaces that make iron, and a Basic Oxygen Steelmaking plant which converts the iron into steel. At the same site it has mills which roll semi-finished steel into finished products – rail, wire rod and constructional sections.

In Lackenby, near Redcar, it also operates Teesside Beam Mill which makes constructional steel while nearby, at Skinningrove, it has another mill that makes Special Profiles. The feedstock for both mills, semi-finished steel, is manufactured in Scunthorpe.

Under the new proposals, the new steel plant at 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.

All rolling mills in Scunthorpe, Teesside and Skinningrove would be maintained.