More than 120 jobs at risk as Liberty Steel consult on mothballing Scunthorpe plant

Liberty Steel in Scunthorpe
Liberty Steel in Scunthorpe -Credit:David Haber/scunthorpelive

More than 120 Scunthorpe steel jobs are at risk as a plant faces closure.

Liberty Steel has begun a consultation process to mothball its Scunthorpe Liberty Merchant Bar (LMB) plant. It comes after a thorough review of strategic options, the company has stated.

Challenging external conditions, including the lack of local feedstock supply, has also affected the plant's viability. Since the closure of coke ovens on the same site, LMB's reheat surfaces have lost gas supply.

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The consultation process begins today, with union representatives and approximately 127 employees associated with the plant to be part of the process. It will last a minimum of 45 days, and Liberty Steel have undertaken to make every effort to reach a consensus with the workforce.

Liberty Steel's chief transformation officer, Jeffrey Kabel, said: "Over the last two years Liberty has restructured and refocused its UK operations so they can operate viably and we have explored every option to achieve the same at Liberty Merchant Bar. A range of external factors have prevented this, including the high energy costs all UK steel producers face, and the loss of third party gas supply to our furnaces.

"As a result, we have opened a consultation on the proposed mothballing of the plant. During the process we will continue to support colleagues, as we have done throughout the past two years, and will make every effort to retain critical skills and redeploy staff where possible."

Its parent company, GFG Alliance has for two years explored all possible ways to establish a sustainable business at the Scunthorpe plant. Despite significant financial support and maintenance of the plant's facilities, LMB's commoditised products face stiff competition from abroad with lower energy costs and less stringent environmental standards, Liberty Steel has said.

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The Liberty Steel update comes a week after British Steel gained planning approval for an electric arc furnace (EAF) at Scunthorpe, to replace its coke blast furnaces. A British Steel representative told councillors the the EAF's shorter process will inevitably require fewer jobs.