One of Wales' biggest employers Tata Steel says it may delay relighting one of its blast furnaces if demand for steel remains slow.
The 185 million pound project to rebuild furnace number 4 at Port Talbot is about to get underway. It should be back online in November, but the company says that will now depend on the state of the order book later in the year.
The company says the decision to look again at the order book before relighting furnace 4 will not affect the rebuild project which is due to start next month. Another £53 Million project to install a new cooling system in the BOS (Basic Oxygen Steelmaking) plant will also go ahead at Port Talbot as planned.
Jon Ferriman, Hub Director of Tata Steel's Strip UK operations based at Port Talbot, said:
The rebuilt furnace will be capable of producing larger volumes of hot metal and will have a 20 year lifespan. The decision to announce a possible delay though in bringing it back on line is an indication of slow demand and a quiet order book. Tata Steel's Chief Commercial Officer, Henrik Adam, said:
The European operations of Tata Steel comprise Europe's second largest steel producer. With main steelmaking operations in the UK and the Netherlands, they supply steel and related services to the construction, automotive, packaging, lifting & excavating, energy & power, aerospace and other demanding markets worldwide. Tata Steel is one of the world's largest steel producers. The combined group has an aggregate crude steel capacity of more than 28 million tonnes and approximately 80,000 employees across four continents.