Steel plant rescued from closure to create 1,000 jobs

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The Independent Online

A Thai firm which bought a huge steel plant, rescuing it from closure, is to create 1,000 jobs in a huge boost to the industry, it was announced today.

Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI), Thailand's biggest steel producer, will start recruiting next month for the new jobs at the Teesside Cast Products site in Redcar, Cleveland.

The firm bought the site from Corus earlier this year, sparking hopes of a return to major steel-making in an area with a long tradition in the industry.

The plant was mothballed more than a year ago under the ownership of Corus after a major contract fell through, causing the loss of 1,600 jobs.

Michael Leahy, leader of the Community trade union, said today's announcement was "fantastic news".

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "The creation of these 1,000 new jobs is a fantastic boost to SSI UK, to Redcar and the North East.

"SSI UK has made incredible progress since it bought the steel- making plant in March this year for £320 million and safeguarding 800 jobs.

"Teesside can look forward to large-scale steel production once again, producing 3.6 million tonnes of steel in the first year. That's something for us all to celebrate."

Mr Leahy said: "This is fantastic news for the people of Teesside and a tribute to all those who worked tirelessly to keep the plant open.

"Teesside has some of the best-trained and highly skilled people in the industry and today's announcement creates a great platform for the future. Community will be working closely with SSI to ensure the business goes from strength to strength."

The company said plans for the work programme associated with the resumption of iron and steelmaking at its Teesside site are now well advanced and within a few weeks it hopes to publicise a target date for the restart of operations.

The plant was mothballed in February 2010 under the ownership of Tata Steel, and was bought by SSI UK in March this year.

The Thai firm said it had spent the intervening period analysing the condition of the plant and developing comprehensive plans for a successful return to operations.

Recruitment will start on August 8, with up to 1,000 jobs being created, said SSI.

Chief executive Phil Dryden said: "I realise that, since SSI UK purchased the Teesside facility in March this year, there has been a great interest within the Teesside community about when steelmaking will be resumed.

"There has already been a considerable amount of time and effort invested in planning the project, and I am hopeful that we can give a target date soon. With this in mind, we are taking another significant step in commencing the recruitment programme in August.

"SSI UK's aim is to create a safe, successful and sustainable business, which will lead to the business becoming a world-class steelmaker."