Redcar SSI plant produces first steel slab

The first steel slab has been produced by the SSI plant on Teesside.

It follows the relighting of the furnace at the former Corus site in Redcar on Sunday, more than two years after it was mothballed.

Many of the 1,600 workforce who lost their jobs at the time have been re-employed by the new owners, SSI.

Simon Hancock, from the Thai-based company, described the return of steelmaking to the area as a "magnificent achievement".

Workers and company officials applauded as the first slab came down the conveyor belt.

The 24-tonne block was dedicated to the memory of union boss Geoff Waterfield, who had battled to retain the Redcar plant before he died in August last year.

His 11-year-old son, Wills, relit the furnace at the special ceremony on Sunday.

World market

Once the plant is at full capacity it will produce up to 400 slabs of steel a day, each weighing up to 33 tonnes.

Mr Hancock said: "This is a fantastic moment for the steel industry, the UK manufacturing sector as a whole, and of course for SSI who made it all possible."

Paul Warren, chair of the multi-unions, said it was the start of a new generation of steelmaking on Teesside.

"We will be supplying Thailand with up to 3.6 million tonnes a year," he said.

"But with our higher grade stuff, we haven't just got one opportunity this time, we've got several to go out and play on the world market."

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