British steelmaker Corus is to restart production at its Llanwern, Wales-based hot rolling mill, thanks to an upsurge in the price of steel.
Production halted at the 3m annual tonne capacity plant in January, with a lack of demand and the high cost of operation prompting Corus to announce the loss of 528 jobs. The reactivation is not expected to reverse these redundancies, with the plant retaining its staff of 750 employees, of which approximately 500 are in manufacturing related operations.
Tim Rutter, head of communications, Corus Strip Products UK, said: “Demand is picking up. We think we are seeing the end of destocking at our service centres, and are thus putting ourselves in the best possible position to exploit any upswing, should it occur. The market is still very depressed, but there are signs of green shoots, and we want to prepare ourselves as best we can for any upturn.”
Rutter urged caution, however, saying that Europe’s second largest steel concern: “Do not want to over-produce, as potentially there could be a glut and we want to keep prices competitive. One has to respond with a great deal of care and caution.”
Highlighting the rise in optimism with the industry, the world’s largest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal, is also planning to restart six of its sixteen mothballed plants. According to figures from the World Steel Association, global steel production has increased in almost every month since February, as demand for metal in China coincides with tentative signs of activity among steel buyers in Europe and America.
In July, steelmakers produced 103.9m tones globally, up from 99.8m in June, the highest level since September 2008.