Giant Tata awards SMS deal to design high-purity steels plant
Tata Steel said that the purpose of the exercise is to draw up a design capable of supporting such a plant, but it said it couldn’t say yet for certain that it would be built. The Speciality Steels business, whose main sites are at Stocksbridge and Rotherham, employs around 2,000 people.
The high-purity Vacuum Induction Melted-derived steels are typically used in aircraft engine transmissions and bearings as well as aircraft structural and undercarriage components where high-purity steel with characteristics such as enhanced fatigue life, improved corrosion resistance and higher strength levels are critical.
Richard Bell, commercial director of Speciality Steels, said: “We have been supplying VIM steels for many years using ingot sourced from select third parties. However, our aerospace customers have been eager to see Tata Steel make a solid commitment to them by expanding its capability and integrating VIM into its existing UK asset structure. We are delighted to be taking this step and we look forward to working closely with key aerospace supply chains on VIM-derived products.”
VIM project manager Stephen Carey said: “The agreement with SMS Mevac means we will get a head start on the design stage of the project, which could shorten the overall timeframe of the development by around six months.”
Tata Steel said the agreement with SMS Mevac is the latest in a string of investments by Speciality Steels in South Yorkshire totalling over £23m in the last few years in support of both plant energy efficiency and improved processing capability.
But the news comes after Tata Steel’s recent announcement that it is cutting 900 jobs and closing 12 sites under plans to improve competitiveness. Most of the job losses will be in South Wales, including 500 at the Port Talbot plant, under restructuring of management and administrative posts.
A total of 580 jobs will be cut in Wales, 155 in Yorkshire, 120 in the West Midlands and 30 on Teesside. Sites to close include Tafarnaubach and Cross Keys in South Wales, while shift levels at the company’s Rotherham and Hartlepool plants will be reduced.