Indian-owned Tata Steel is set to invest £800m in upgrading its steel plants in Wales over the next five years.
The news was announced by Wales’ First Minister Carwyn Jones on his return from a trade mission to India, where he met with Tata Steel’s vice president Balasubramanian Muthuraman.
During a meeting in Mumbai, the pair discussed Tata Steel’s ongoing plans in Wales, where the company makes hot-rolled, cold-rolled and metallic-coated strip steels for the likes of BMW Mini in Port Talbot and coated metals for roofing and cladding systems in Shotton.
Mr Jones commented that Tata Steel’s investment will “improve production, product mix, quality and product range” at its Welsh facilities.
This is a part of a broader strategy to transform its European operations into a high margin operation by investing in the specialised steel business to counter high input costs at the company’s European plants and increase competitiveness.
Part of the investment will go towards erecting a new blast furnace at Port Talbot, which will begin in June, and operational and production changes that the company has already announced.
Mr Jones said the announcement would safeguard thousands of jobs and would create many more in the future. He said that Mr Muthuraman “paid tribute to the quality of the workforce available in Wales” during their meeting and said that it was “a massive vote of confidence in Wales.”
Tata is currently weighing up whether it can mine coal near its Port Talbot plant to turn into coke and use in the steel production. The firm has said that the project would create up to 500 jobs.