June 22, 2020 / 11:39 AM / 19 days ago

Liberty Steel aims to double output at UK plant to 1 million tonnes

LONDON (Reuters) - Privately-held Liberty Steel plans to double output at a British plant to 1 million tonnes in three to five years, processing scrap steel and producing rebar for the construction sector.

Liberty, owned by the GFG Alliance headed by British-based tycoon Sanjeev Gupta, said in a statement on Monday that it aimed to boost output at its Rotherham plant, northern England, while also cutting its carbon dioxide emissions.

The operation has two electric arc furnaces, which it wants to use to process more of the steel scrap generated in Britain, much of which is exported and melted abroad.

Electric arc furnaces emit much less CO2 than coal-fired blast furnaces.

Under the expansion plans, a Liberty steel mill in Rotherham will start making reinforcement bar (rebar), used to strengthen concrete structures.

It will aim to fill a gap in the British rebar market, of which about half of the 1.2 million tonnes of demand is met by imports, Liberty said.

“The business is well-prepared to win a greater share of the construction market in the U.K. with a competitive greensteel rebar offering for projects such as HS2,” Gupta said in the statement.

Britain’s high-speed HS2 rail project to connect London to northern England got approval in April to launch construction.

Liberty, which has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030, also said its energy pipe business in Hartlepool was seeing its best order book position in over six years, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gupta’s GFG Alliance, which also has operations in aluminium and infrastructure, said earlier this month it would cut costs and shed jobs following a sharp slide in demand that could last up to 18 months.

Liberty Steel has a total rolling capacity of 18 million tonnes with operations in 10 countries and 30,000 employees.

Reporting by Eric Onstad; editing by Barbara Lewis

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