First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hailed the future of steel and engineering in Scotland as she formally reopened Dalzell steelworks.
The Dalzell plate mill in Motherwell was mothballed by Tata Steel in 2015, with the loss of 225 jobs, before being taken over by Liberty House Group in April.
Liberty has dedicated the last five months to rebuilding the workforce and recommissioning equipment at the site, which includes the UK’s largest and most versatile plate mill.
Dalzell for decades produced the tough steel plate used in industries such as shipbuilding, construction, mining, oil production and heavy vehicle manufacture.
The First Minister described its revival as “a very positive signal that the steel and engineering industries still have a future here in Scotland”.
Sanjeev Gupta, Executive Chairman of Liberty House described the re-opening as a first step for the group in Scotland, adding that he aims to expand his company’s investment in pursuit of its Greensteel strategy for a competitive, low-carbon and sustainable steel industry.
Liberty has already recruited 120 staff for Dalzell, comprising many former employees as well as those new to the industry including several apprentices. It is hoped employment will increase to over 200 within 18 months, as production rises in response to market demand.
The reopened plant will target Britain’s 700,000 tonne-a-year market for plate steel which is growing at the 3% a year. The business has already secured a significant number of orders particularly in the construction and energy sectors.
In the medium to longer term, the plant, which has a full production capacity of between 400k and 500k tonnes a year, is expected to not only re-establish its previously-held position in British markets but secure new customers across the UK and abroad.
At a local level it is estimated that Dalzell is worth £15 million a year to the local economy in wages and supply contracts awarded to local businesses.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“This is a fantastic day for Dalzell workers, for Motherwell and Scotland’s steel industry. Restarting steel production is only possible thanks to the tremendous team effort of everyone involved in the steel taskforce to find a viable future for this site, meaning workers here in Lanarkshire can once again produce world-class products.
“Liberty House are seizing an exciting opportunity. The SNP Government will continue to work with Sanjeev Gupta and his team to ensure a successful future."
Mr Gupta paid tribute to the support of the SNP Government and Scottish Enterprise in helping the company rescue the plate works. He said:
"There is an impressive spirit of partnership here and a determination to give the Scottish steel industry a real future. We promised to reopen this important plant and we are proud to be fulfilling that promise.”
Kenneth Gibson commented:
"I worked for British Steel Plates for more than four years in the mid-80s, including a year at Dalzell, so I am delighted to see it reopen.
“Restarting this mill only nine months after production was halted is a tremendous achievement. My colleague Fergus Ewing MSP dedicated himself to saving Scottish Steel as the responsible minister and his hard work in securing this positive outcome deserves recognition.
"Seeing the plant producing steel plate once again is just reward for all the determination and hard work of everyone at Dalzell. It is heartening that Liberty now intend to ramp production up as quickly as the market will allow.”