The reopening of Dalzell steelworks at Motherwell moved a step closer this week as the newly-recruited workforce began cutting steel slabs in preparation for the restart of plate rolling operations at the huge plant later this month.
This is the first production activity to take place at the landmark site since it shut down 10 months ago in the midst of the steel industry crisis.
International industrial and metals group, Liberty House, who bought the plant from Tata Steel in April this year, has now hired 110 people from the area and is getting close to the number needed to recommence operations.
The recruits include many former employees who have returned, as well as those new to the industry including several apprentices who have begun training for a variety of jobs.
With the plant already securing a number of orders, workers have begun cutting 30-tonne steel slabs into two metre long sections in readiness for rolling into plate steel which is used in a range of industries including the construction, vehicle manufacture and energy sectors.
So far 10,000 tonnes of slab have been delivered to Dalzell from the British Steel works at Scunthorpe, while employees continue their work to recommission the giant rolling mill.
Trial rolling is expected to begin in the next fortnight with a formal restart of production scheduled for 28th September.
Jon Bolton, chief executive of Liberty Steel UK Plates & UK Steel Development, said: “We’re getting very close to the point where we can start making steel plate at Dalzell once again. With the start of slab-cutting this week and, with excellent progress being made on recommissioning of the rolling mill, we are right on target to keep our promise to have the works fully operational again in the Autumn.”