Sunday, August 15, 2010

Corus' troubled Teesside site to get new factory

S Kalyana Ramanathan / London August 16, 2010

Tata Steel-owned European giant Corus has unveiled plans to construct a new £31.5-million manufacturing plant in northern England’s Teesside, which would potentially create 220 jobs. The site has been in the news for many months due to Corus’ decision to part-mothball a factory there.

Preliminary engineering work is underway at the Corus Redcar site to develop a new facility to produce steel foundation structures – called monopiles – used to secure offshore wind turbines to the seabed.

Chris Elliot, director of product marketing, said: “The UK government has approved ambitious plans to build thousands of wind turbines at sea over the next 10 years. They are intended to generate 35 gigawatts of electricity – around 15 per cent of the UK’s energy requirements. Similar developments are taking place in other European countries. In the UK alone, we estimate that about six million tonnes of steel will be needed over the next 10 years to make the foundations and tower structures for offshore wind turbines. We are positioning ourselves to take full benefit of these opportunities.”

The intention is to redeploy and re-equip redundant buildings on the company’s 3,000-acre Teesside site for monopile production and shipment of the structures which can weigh as much as 650 tonnes, a company statement said.

Corus MD and CEO Kirby Adams said: “This is one of a wide range of new employment and business opportunities which Corus is working on in Teesside. It also follows recent recruitment at our Hartlepool and Skinningrove plants, as well as at our South Yorkshire and Scottish plants.”

Jon Bolton, Corus’ long products director, said the company was moving to establish its position in this emerging market. “The development of a new plant is dependent on us securing enough orders for monopiles. Our engineers will be carrying out work in Teesside over the coming weeks to give us a head start on creating a new facility.”

The new investment plan is widely seen as a reprive for Teesside after Corus’ decision to part-mothball put nearly 1,700 jobs at risk. The company is currently in talks with Thai steel maker Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI). The status of the negotiations is not known. Tata Steel recently said it was waiting to hear from SSI.

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