Port Talbot furnace restart lifts UK crude steel output year-on-year

The restart of one of Tata Steel Europe’s blast furnaces at Port Talbot in Wales earlier this year raised the UK’s total crude steel production for September, Steel First has learnt.

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UK September 2013 crude steel production was just over 1 million tonnes, up by 24% year-on-year, according to statistics from the International Steel Statistics Bureau (ISSB).

Output was at its highest level since 2008, when compared with previous September figures from the World Steel Assn.

The UK is Europe’s fifth-largest steelmaking nation.

The ISSB output figures for Wales and the rest of the UK more than doubled to 463,600 tonnes in September, compared with 279,600 tonnes during the corresponding month in 2012.

Increased production from Tata’s Port Talbot plant was the main contributor to the rising UK figures, a source close to ISSB said.

A slight increase at Tata’s electric arc furnace in Rotherham, England, also contributed to the rise, the source added.

Tata Europe was unable to provide figures for steel production from Port Talbot. The furnace there was relit in February this year following an upgrade which raised the capacity of the plant by 400,000 tpy.

The Port Talbot steelworks produces flat steel products, and has a capacity of 4.9 million tpy, according to the latest Tata Europe results filed with Companies House, the UK’s business administrator.

The plant’s capacity utilisation was 61% in the financial year that ended in April 2013.

Tata Steel Europe is a subsidiary of India’s Tata Steel.

Global profits for Tata Steel for the April-June quarter in 2013 rose by 90% year-on-year, supported in part by improvements in European operations.

However, in the financial year that ended in April 2013, Tata Steel Europe reported a £1.125 billion ($1.797 billion) loss.

ISSB reports UK steel production according to Tata Steel’s production calendar, which splits months into four- and five-week reporting periods.

ISSB is co-funded by Tata Steel and the UK Steel Assn. It bases its production data on information from all UK steelworks with furnaces.

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