/ British Steel

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neilh 21 May 2019

Well could be a sad day for British Steel. 

Not sure what is the right way forward on this. 

TheDrunkenBakers 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> Well could be a sad day for British Steel. 

> Not sure what is the right way forward on this. 

Level the sites and allow the vast swathes of land to re-wild and never allow development. 

6
neilh 21 May 2019
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

Not sure the 25,000 or so employees may like your concept. 

I suppose a few of them could get poorly paid jobs as park rangers. 

2
TheDrunkenBakers 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

My comment was based on the assumption that BS is allowed to go bust. Can we really compete globally with steel any more?

Should the vast land asset be allowed to simply be replaced by new cardboard housing developments or should we take a greener approach and allow nature to reclaim these huge scars on the landscape?  Is it even possible to build houses on these sites given the associated pollution?

David Riley 21 May 2019
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

Or build on that land, rather than on Green Belt for the huge number of houses needed and workplaces for jobs.  Better still reduce the population so we need less food, jobs, houses, schools, cars,  NHS ,  and reduce pollution.

7
neilh 21 May 2019
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

It depends on how you think about it. 

There is a glut of steel from countries who do not conform to the latest European environmental standards .

depend on how you want your steel produced .

not easy .

stevieb 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

So, the government has already lent £120m this year to a company that employs fewer than 5000 people, and now they need to borrow another £75m. Maybe if the company's private equity owners didn't take out £20m a year, it would be in a better place. Greybull have already done very nicely out of the collapse of Monarch and the collapse of Comet. I'm not sure that another loan would be particularly good value.

jkarran 21 May 2019
In reply to David Riley:

> Or build on that land, rather than on Green Belt for the huge number of houses needed and workplaces for jobs.  Better still reduce the population so we need less food, jobs, houses, schools, cars,  NHS ,  and reduce pollution.

It's a rather weird take on the underfunding we've been voting for, the various staffing crises we've voted to precipitate... no, the problem isn't that we fu*ked up the supply side by refusing to pay enough tax or retain skilled workers, it's simply that there are too many of us alive? While it may be true in a broader sense, what exactly do you propose doing about it here and now?

And build workplaces for what jobs? Your bungled isolationist fever dream has fu*ked these people and their jobs. It isn't going to be making them new ones anytime soon! Campaigning against brexit back in 2016 time and time again I met voters wanting 'out' to save British Steel. Mugged by pinstriped pricks with their easy answers... who'd have thought it eh.

jk

Post edited at 11:15
6
Deadeye 21 May 2019
In reply to jkarran:

You really need to get off the fence and make your feelings clear. Stop beating around the bush.

😘

wintertree 21 May 2019
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

> Should the vast land asset be allowed to simply be replaced by new cardboard housing developments or should we take a greener approach and allow nature to reclaim these huge scars on the landscape? 

Don’t see why not - it already has road access, services and so on and little incumbent wildlife.  Unlike the farmland and allotments currently being developed near us...   But make every roof solar electric and build a big rainwater storage tank on the estate and pump filtered gray water back to the houses for toilets and laundry.  I’m aghast that this sort of thing isn’t mandatory on all new developments.

> Is it even possible to build houses on these sites given the associated pollution?

An asbestos factory was cleaned up near where I used to live and developed as housing.  The cleanup sustained a lot of jobs for a while,

neilh 21 May 2019
In reply to stevieb:

I agree with you there, its a repeat of the demise of Rover cars.

The big industrial strategy question is really whether its a good idea to have a couple of steel mills in one the worlds largest economies so that as a minium we know how to make the stuff.

neilh 21 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

So you want to move to Scunthorpe?

It is unfortunately not a popular area for relocating too?Or one where there is a huge demand for housing etc. Even industrially its not a build area, there are better places.

You mean the clean up jobs lasted a short while and then people were put on the scrap heap so to speak.

PS I see that 95% of its steel goes to the Uk's rail network.Never knoew that. Just for that reason it will be saved.

Post edited at 12:45
Harry Jarvis 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> So you want to move to Scunthorpe?

> It is unfortunately not a popular area for relocating too?Or one where there is a huge demand for housing etc. Even industrially its not a build area, there are better places.

According to the North Lincs Housing Strategy, there is a need for 750 new homes per year in the area. It would seem to me that at least some of that demand could be met using suitable brownfield sites. 

The New NickB 21 May 2019
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

Even ignoring the employees, wouldn’t these be good sites for new development, be it residential or new commercial or industrial uses. Re-use brown field sites rather than putting more pressure on green belt.

The New NickB 21 May 2019
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

> Is it even possible to build houses on these sites given the associated pollution?

Of course it is, many worse former uses than steel works, also much of the land won’t have involved the big dirty industrial processes you are thinking of. I’m currently dealing with a former Corus site, which was basically storage and a rail shunting yard.

Back in the day, they used to park the Royal Train there if she was visiting the North West.

stevieb 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> I agree with you there, its a repeat of the demise of Rover cars.

> The big industrial strategy question is really whether its a good idea to have a couple of steel mills in one the worlds largest economies so that as a minium we know how to make the stuff.

Yes, I’m reminded if rover too. If the government could guarantee that they became prime lender/owner I would be willing for us to invest. But I have a feeling that greybull would still get £2m a month, and walk away with most of the assets when it did eventually go bust. 

wintertree 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> So you want to move to Scunthorpe?

Yes, let’s write it off and keep pumping funds into uneconomical, polluting industry.  Or you could put some business parks in along side the housing, some shops and even a school and some parks.

It’s worked in other areas.

> You mean the clean up jobs lasted a short while and then people were put on the scrap heap so to speak.

Or moved on to the next clean up job; there’s no shortage of brown field sites awaiting redevelopment.

> PS I see that 95% of its steel goes to the Uk's rail network.Never knoew that. Just for that reason it will be saved.

I’d like to see the current plants managed down and a new “post carbon” nuclear/renewable electricity powered electrolysis steel plant open.  A much better use of state funds than bailing out the current environmental disasters, and its investing in future tech the whole world is going to need.   Without coal something like a quarter of the world’s arable land would be needed to produce charcoal to feed the global steel industry’s demand for carbon for the reduction of iron ores.

neilh 21 May 2019
In reply to Harry Jarvis:

How about maintaining the steel works to continue to supply the rail network. Or else would you prefer it to come in from say Korea or China

neilh 21 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

Yes and the steel for rail then comes in from where... China?

And do you not need steel for all the railways/ trams etc  in the post carbon economy.And that steel is already made there.

Have a think about it.

Its hardly as though the plant is making steel for cars.

And yes its not a good nice enviromentally friendly process.

Post edited at 13:34
wintertree 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> And do you not need steel for all the railways/ trams etc  in the post carbon economy.And that steel is already made there.

Yes, which is why we should invest our wealth - some of the greatest in global terms - in post carbon steel production plants so that we suck up the cost of being nice, instead of polluting our country or worse exporting the pollution on to the poorer peoples of China.   It would be a good long term investment - one day the world is going to need steel and won’t have any more coal.

> Have a think about it.

I did.  I think you may have mis understood my post.

Post edited at 13:37
neilh 21 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

I trhink I misunderstood your post.

Do you know if such plants exist or are they pipe dreams?

Harry Jarvis 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> How about maintaining the steel works to continue to supply the rail network. Or else would you prefer it to come in from say Korea or China

My comment was in response your suggestion that Scunthorpe is not a place to build houses, as well you knew. If the BS works do close, the derelict industrial site would be an appropriate brownfield site. If an alternative solution can be found to keep the works open, or better still to create a modern post-carbon steel plant as suggested by wintertree, then that would be a worthwhile way to proceed.  

subtle 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> So you want to move to Scunthorpe?

> It is unfortunately not a popular area for relocating too?Or one where there is a huge demand for housing etc. Even industrially its not a build area, there are better places.

Have you seen what became of Ravenscraig - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ravenscraig

Whilst the link is old, the site remains a largely empty place, even if they advertise it otherwise   http://ravenscraig.co.uk/

john arran 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

Another traditionally nationalised industry badly managed and a drain on state finances. If it were to be privatised it would become far more efficient and we'd soon see profits benefitting both shareholders and taxman.

oh, hang on a minute...

wintertree 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> Do you know if such plants exist or are they pipe dreams?

Pilot plants have been tried.  As I understand it the main barrier to a large plant being built is elevated running costs rather than any show stoppers.  There’s quite a lot of research over self passivating electrodes to lower that part of the running cost. 

Wind power was expensive when the UK started investing in it.  A couple of decades later we are a world leader has it’s a thriving industry. 

We should do a lot more to invest in the future - and to look after those who loose their jobs from past industry in the process.  The UK isn’t so good at that bit.

Ian W 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> Yes and the steel for rail then comes in from where... China?

> And do you not need steel for all the railways/ trams etc  in the post carbon economy.And that steel is already made there.

> Have a think about it.

> Its hardly as though the plant is making steel for cars.

It is - 17% uf UK steel output goes to car manufacturers

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-3531830/Could-Britain-s-booming-car-factories-help-save-suffering-steel-industry-complete-crisis.html

neilh 21 May 2019
In reply to Ian W:

That will be the other steel plants owned by Tata. We are talking of a different steel plant owned by Greybull.

Harry Jarvis 21 May 2019
In reply to Ian W:

It's always worth looking at the date of such articles. A 3 year-old article, written before the EU referendum, may not have so much relevance now, particularly given the current travails of the British car industry. 

neilh 21 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

Not sure about sentiment there in your statement ( you say we are not good at it) that windpower was expensive ( we clearly invested in it) and we are now a world leader. Indicates it can be done.

Its whether your proposed technolgy works or not. Some ideas are just wishful. Too bluesky.

neilh 21 May 2019
In reply to john arran:

Well there is arguments both ways on something like this.

wintertree 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> Not sure about sentiment there in your statement ( you say we are not good at it)

What I mean is that we are not good at looking after workers when an industry is abandoned or moves on - no well funded retraining or development of new business in affected areas.  

> Its whether your proposed technolgy works or not. Some ideas are just wishful. Too bluesky.

It works.  It’s just more expensive (up front) to make steel without using coal or other forms of carbon.  We’d rather pay later through the deferred climate costs...

neilh 21 May 2019
In reply to Harry Jarvis:

There are plenty of brownfield sites that hvae been redeveloped. You only have to look at Irlam and Urmston in Manchester ( former BS) to understand this.

The question is demand. In this day and age brownfield development can be done..

I am personally not sure North Lincs is a hotspot for industrial parks and with the greatest respect its not a Northern Powerhouse location.

So I do question what you would actually do with the site.

750 new houses?Got to question that.

I am open to any ideas, just do not see it.Any one who is actually local who can comment on this would be useful.

Post edited at 14:50
neilh 21 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

Is there any such plant in the world?

earlsdonwhu 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

So probably it will shut and HS2 will end up using imported steel!

Harry Jarvis 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> 750 new houses?Got to question that.

In which case, you may wish to question the North Lincolnshire Council Housing Strategy, which is where the number came from. 

Ian W 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

No, it is (well was in 2016) the output of the UK steel industry used by UK car plants. Additional amounts were / are exported to EU car plants. The main thrust of the article does have more resonance with the reason for this thread; the lack of investment in UK steel production means that the potential for increased demand from UK car assembly plants is difficult to realise, as the main increases for demand are in more specialised metals and production methods.

krikoman 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> I agree with you there, its a repeat of the demise of Rover cars.

Not really though is it, we can still buy British made car, if we want to.

Besides that cars aren't really part of a countries strategic infrastructure, not that anyone really cares about such things at present, French power, German water, etc.

But one day we might need access to our own steel, rather than be held to ransom by some other country. So while it's tricky and not an easy answer, it not like Rover, it's more important than that.

Like most things, eventually there will be only a few suppliers left and they'll have a monopoly and they'll be able to charge what they want for steel, it's not like we can do without it.

Ian W 21 May 2019
In reply to Harry Jarvis:

Its still highly relevant. And what do you think will happen to the UK car assembly industry if the source of a major - expensive to transport - component is lost?

Harry Jarvis 21 May 2019
In reply to Ian W:

I honestly have no idea what point you are trying to make. As has been pointed out to you, almost all of the BS output goes to the railways. It is the BS plant that is under immediate threat. 

wintertree 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> Is there any such plant in the world?

There would be if we built it.  There’s development work to be done - but I reckon that’s a better use of government funds than bailing out uncompetitive plant that’s carbon intensive and not viable once the coal runs out.

Ian W 21 May 2019
In reply to Harry Jarvis:

It was pointed out wrongly - 

"One of its biggest customers is Network Rail, 95% of whose rails are supplied by British Steel's Scunthorpe plant".

From https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48347371

My point is (as with krikomans), the strategic part of having a high quality local steel producer is way more important than worrying about a Grayling or 2 (my term for approx £50m) in subsidies / bailouts or whatever. 

Post edited at 15:34
neilh 21 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

So you close the Scunthorpe site and rebuild on it. A new untried process.10/ 20 years before It kicks with big question marks.

meanwhile where does the rail network buy it’s steel?

neilh 21 May 2019
In reply to krikoman:

I amtalking more about the process by which it has been through various owners until it collapses, like rover. 

I agree 100% that we need it strategically. 

I doubt there will ever be a monopoly position for steel,

john arran 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> So you close the Scunthorpe site and rebuild on it. A new untried process.10/ 20 years before It kicks with big question marks.

> meanwhile where does the rail network buy it’s steel?

If only we were part of a powerful, multinational alliance that has either the capacity to make such raw materials itself or the political leverage to be able to avoid being taken for a ride on the price of imports.

Oh, hang on a minute ...

2
stevieb 21 May 2019
In reply to Ian W:

> My point is (as with krikomans), the strategic part of having a high quality local steel producer is way more important than worrying about a Grayling or 2 (my term for approx £50m) in subsidies / bailouts or whatever. 

I think the government investing in a local steel industry is in theory a good thing, and if competition laws allow it I would be happy for the government to subsidy this.

I'm very dubious that handing over £200m in 3 months to private equity owners with a history of walking away from liquidations with a nice little pay off is the way to do it.

wintertree 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> A new untried process.

It’s tried, just not scaled yet.

> 10/ 20 years before It kicks with big question marks.

Yes let’s not bother funding steel that doesn’t break the world because it might be hard.

> meanwhile where does the rail network buy it’s steel?

Don’t know.  Literally nobody else in the world makes steel.

Edit: To save you dragging this round in endless circles - the railways can either pay BS enough that they don’t go bust, or they can buy elsewhere.  Meanwhile instead of subsidising a carbon intensive dinosaur the government can save their money and spend it on making us a leader in post-carbon steel making.  With far more provision for retraining and redevelopment that has been typical when large industries are allowed to fail.  

Post edited at 16:08
neilh 21 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

Its the hard practicalities of these ideas that interest me.

Ok so the best option I have read so far then is for the rail network ( in otherwords the govt) to pay enough to BS for it not to go bust.

Thats fine, I think most of us on here would agree with that.

And its also interesting to read that one of the plants problems is Brexit, as European buyers are switching elesewhere. To be honest I think that is a bit rich when 95% of the plant is for the UK's rail network

Post edited at 16:36
1
Eric9Points 21 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

> There would be if we built it.  There’s development work to be done - but I reckon that’s a better use of government funds than bailing out uncompetitive plant that’s carbon intensive and not viable once the coal runs out.


There seems to be a disconnect in your thinking. You are suggesting we shouldn't make steel because it's one of those dirty, noisy, smokey industries. Fine, a matter of taste I suppose. There is still a need for steel in this country though. If we don't make it then someone else will and they'll make it in a very similar dirty, noisy, smokey factory and then sell it to us.

I agree that if we can spend the money on something else that replaces all the jobs lost and earns money and hopefully has potential for growth then great, lets do it but if not we should think very carefully about the consequences of closing the steel plants.

Someone else was praising our wind industry. In terms if manufacturing it's a failure as far as I understand it. Wind turbines are a commodity which I believe we buy from abroad. All we do is install them and use the electricity they produce.

Regarding the car industry. Its loss would be a disaster for the UK engineering industry. It is currently our crown jewel.

krikoman 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> I doubt there will ever be a monopoly position for steel,

Cartel then if you like, whichever, we're not likely to have any influence.

wintertree 21 May 2019
In reply to Eric9Points:

> There seems to be a disconnect in your thinking.

No, I’ve just let myself be dragged round the comments till my thinking is all spread out.

> You are suggesting we shouldn't make steel because it's one of those dirty, noisy, smokey industries. Fine, a matter of taste I suppose.

It’s not the noise or the smoke that bothers me, it’s the carbon dioxide emitted by reducing the iron ore with unoxidised carbon.  Steel is a massive source of CO2.

> There is still a need for steel in this country though.

Obviously.

> If we don't make it then someone else will and they'll make it in a very similar dirty, noisy, smokey factory and then sell it to us.

Obviously.  As I said up thread it’s not great of us to export our pollution to China.

>  we should think very carefully about the consequences of closing the steel plants.

Yes, I ageee there are “national interest” reasons for keeping a certain level of steel production, but “jobs” is not one of them.

What I think is that rather than bailing out uncompetitive plants without a technological future (there is no new steel once coal runs out, the carbon in the coal is needed) we should start a new “post carbon” steel industry - so we are at the forefront of future steel production.  This is the way Sweden is going.  At some point we have to abandon very obvious dead ends and innovate - and whoever leads on that for steel is going to profit handsomely in the long term.

>  Wind turbines are a commodity which I believe we buy from abroad. All we do is install them and use the electricity they produce.

There is I think a good amount or subsidiary manufacturing in the UK. It also keeps an awful lot of people in jobs and  is contributing to an ever cleaner energy mix.  I care more about employment than manufacture being in the UK.

Post edited at 18:40
Dax H 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

It will hit the economy hard if it fails, not only the lost wages etc but also suppliers. The company my wife works at is owed 180k by British steel. That loss won't put them under but it will cause them to struggle and if anyone else goes down then they will and probably take some of their suppliers with them. 

krikoman 21 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

> It’s not the noise or the smoke that bothers me, it’s the carbon dioxide emitted by reducing the iron ore with unoxidised carbon.  Steel is a massive source of CO2.

But that doesn't disappear simply because someone else makes our steel for us. In fact the pollution is probably better controlled in the UK rather than China, maybe another reason to support local production. You also have the transportation costs, both financial and environmental, to take into account, ships aren't the best way to transport goods.

2
wintertree 21 May 2019
In reply to krikoman:

> But that doesn't disappear simply because someone else makes our steel for us.

Obviously.  

Which I why my first suggestion, that I’ve been repeating since, is that we fund carbon free steel manufacturing at the expense of not propping up a failing and ultimately doomed manufacturing base.

You are right that there’s pollution and CO2 in return for our steel in the mean time - locally made or imported.  There’s nothing we can do to avoid that except using less steel or recycling more steel.  

All the more reason to accelerate post-carbon steel production.  It’s not a magic cure - I never claimed it was.  But it’s better to fund the future not the past, both for the climate and for the nation.

Post edited at 20:14
1
Pbob 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

Look after the people who are loosing there jobs and the communities they live in. Invest in retraining and alternative employment opportunities (preferably in green engineering). Be thankful not to be in their position.

Lusk 21 May 2019
In reply to Pbob:

Absolutely, what with all this Brexit thing and fewer Eastern Europeans coming over here, all these highly skilled tradesmen can fill the forthcoming employee gaping hole in the burger flipping and fruit picking industries.

The New NickB 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> And its also interesting to read that one of the plants problems is Brexit, as European buyers are switching elesewhere. To be honest I think that is a bit rich when 95% of the plant is for the UK's rail network

If I understand the quote correctly, the plant is supplying 95% of Network Rail’s steel, not that Network Rail is buying 95% of the plants steel. Potentially very different things.

I buy 95% of my petrol from Texaco, I don’t buy 95% of Texaco’s petrol.

duchessofmalfi 21 May 2019
In reply to The New NickB:

I say put the new houses of parliament there - a lot cheaper than the current plans and bloody good for regeneration.  Bloody good for politics as well if parliament toured a bit.  Absolutely no now need for the HoP to be sat on the most expensive real-estate in the country. 

Redevelop current HoP as a hotel and posh Nandos to pay for it.

Eric9Points 21 May 2019
In reply to Dax H:

> It will hit the economy hard if it fails, not only the lost wages etc but also suppliers. The company my wife works at is owed 180k by British steel. That loss won't put them under but it will cause them to struggle and if anyone else goes down then they will and probably take some of their suppliers with them. 

Well quite, companies will get a fraction of what they're owed and around 24000 are looking at going on the dole. What is the cost to the country of supporting perhaps 12000 wage earners for 6 months, 6000 for a year and 3000 for two years? £130 million begins to look worth a punt. It is important to note that the money is a loan, not a grant or a gift so presumably it must be backed up with a business plan and I'd assume the government could find a way of securing the loan in some way.

This article is interesting, reading between the lines Unite seem to be accusing the owners of wanting to shut their UK steelmaking and move to Europe to avoid post Brexit tariffs. They also don't trust the owners, suspecting they'll take the money and run. Presumably though the chaps in the treasury weren't born yesterday: https://leftfootforward.org/2019/05/unite-calls-on-government-to-consider-nationalising-british-steel/

Dave the Rave 21 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

Government bail out like the banks.

1
Lurking Dave 22 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

> I’d like to see the current plants managed down and a new “post carbon” nuclear/renewable electricity powered electrolysis steel plant open.  

Could you help me out and describe how an electrolysis steel making works?

jimtitt 22 May 2019
In reply to Lurking Dave:

Melt a load of iron oxide, put two electrodes in and you get oxygen at the positive and molten iron at the negative.

Takes an impressive amount of electricity!

Lurking Dave 22 May 2019
In reply to jimtitt:

> Takes an impressive amount of electricity!

LOL, it "would" take an impressive amount of electricity, IF anyone used MOE for iron/steel production. Completely unrealistic in the UK.

With a predicted Global surplus of scrap in the coming decade,  small scale (minimill) EAFs make a lot more sense.

wintertree 22 May 2019
In reply to Lurking Dave:

> Completely unrealistic in the UK.

No more so than the switch from gas/oil heating to electric heating, or the switch to zero emission vehicles.  All of these are going to take large, sustained investment in nuclear and renewable electricity generation.

Its completely unrealistic to keep using coal indefinitely.  It will run out.  It’s also wrecking the world.

Edit: The amount of clean power needed for steel will be immense but twice as much again is needed to decarbonise transport.

Post edited at 07:48
wintertree 22 May 2019
In reply to Lurking Dave:

> Could you help me out and describe how an electrolysis steel making works?

Jimjit explained it but I’ve a suspicion you already know...

neilh 22 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

I think in respect if overall CO2 emmisions currently in the Uk a couple of steel mills is not high priority  

better spending the money in other issues which will have a bigger impact.  

wintertree 22 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> I think in respect if overall CO2 emmisions currently in the Uk a couple of steel mills is not high priority

But we should look at “exported emissions” from imported steel, not just local emissions.  The UK’s steel usage is high, and likely represents about 8% of our total emissions.

My point that I have made clearly many times is that (a) if we choose to invest in future plant and not dead end plant we could become a world leader in the next generation of post carbon steel.  Or we could prop up a failing business that is 100% doomed when the coal runs out.  (b) This investment won’t cut current emissions as we’ll import emission laden steel during the development process. 

1
Harry Jarvis 22 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

> My point that I have made clearly many times is that (a) if we choose to invest in future plant and not dead end plant we could become a world leader in the next generation of post carbon steel.  Or we could prop up a failing business that is 100% doomed when the coal runs out.  

I agree with you entirely. Unfortunately, our carbon-intensive industries are poor at taking the long-term decisions which could place UK industry at the forefront of post-carbon industrialisation. For example, the potential benefits of carbon capture and storage (CCS) have been discussed ad nauseum, yet the very industries (coal mining and oil and gas) which would benefit most have done very little to develop the technology, with little meaningful support from government. If, and it's a big if, there is any real development of CCS, it would be a highly desirable and valuable technology  - but it will not be a British technology. At a time when much is said about the role of Britain as a global partner, it is disappointing that there is so little effort to develop world-beating post-carbon technologies. 

Harry Jarvis 22 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> I think in respect if overall CO2 emmisions currently in the Uk a couple of steel mills is not high priority  

Or alternatively, take the view that long-term investment in a highly desirable global technology would be a good thing. The need for steel is not going to go away, and post-carbon steel production will need to happen. We can choose to be a leader, and reap the rewards, or a follower. 

Lurking Dave 22 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

Yes, I already know, and for full disclosure, I work in the steel industry, outside the UK.

The UK making virgin steel makes zero sense. Iron ore, coking coal,  economies of scale, the UK has none of these. 

Recycling steel in an EAF is the only way that I can see that makes sense - but you need a low-cost energy source for the electricity, the economics of decarbonising industries drives (rebalances) competitive advantages. The remaining days of integrated steelmaking in the UK are few.

I should add, you seem to assume that recent Chinese steel mills are inefficient... they are not, the capacity that is being closed is small "cottage" plants (<1Mtpa) and being replaced with top end, high-efficiency kit.

LD

Post edited at 10:25
neilh 22 May 2019
In reply to Lurking Dave:

Thanks for that.

So we acutally have somebody who knows the industry.

And your views on the issue that 95 % of the steel goes into the UK's rail network. Why is that. Is it just the BS steel is specified in the supply chain.Who is going to pick up that business?

4
Jon Greengrass 22 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

All the articles I've read state that 95% of the rails used in the British rail network are sourced from British Steel. Where did your statistic come from?

Post edited at 11:08
wintertree 22 May 2019
In reply to Lurking Dave:

> The UK making virgin steel makes zero sense. Iron ore, coking coal,  economies of scale, the UK has none of these. 

We have one of the greener electricity supplies for a non-tiny nation however.  It is daft to ship ore to the UK rather than processed steel.  Then again rare earth ores are being shipped to China for processing.  That global shipping doesn’t pay for its climate sins is a different topic...

Given where iron ore comes from the sensible post carbon thing to do would be to build some giant solar plants in the source countries - which are more mid latitudes than the UK - and process at source.

> Recycling steel in an EAF is the only way that I can see that makes sense - but you need a low-cost energy source for the electricity, the economics of decarbonising industries drives (rebalances) competitive advantages. The remaining days of integrated steelmaking in the UK are few.

Presumably the electrolysis is much less energy intensive when just cleaning up recycled steel?  I agree with you about energy costs - but that’s something that has to be faced up to by more than just steel.

> I should add, you seem to assume that recent Chinese steel mills are inefficient...

I do not - but we are exporting the carbon emissions to China by using them.  Efficiency only goes so far when carbon is converted to CO2 as an integral, chemical process rather than as power source.   My - totally uniformed - worry over Chinese steel is quality control.  

Mike Stretford 22 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> So we acutally have somebody who knows the industry.

Dave makes some good points but does not deal with the fact that steel making capability is strategically important for a medium sized G7 country. Proffesionally, I am a downstream steel customer and availability of the right quality steel has a big impact.

And for flip sake get that 95% stat right..... it's important to the discussion.

Gordonbp 22 May 2019
In reply to earlsdonwhu:

We need to scrap HS2 as well. Every single economic argument for it has been debunked in the last few years...

2
Ian W 22 May 2019
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

> All the articles I've read state that 95% of the rails used in the British rail network are sourced from British Steel. Where did your statistic come from?

I suspect the same articles, just misread the statistic. (see earlier in thread).

kipper12 22 May 2019
In reply to Lusk:

> Absolutely, what with all this Brexit thing and fewer Eastern Europeans coming over here, all these highly skilled tradesmen can fill the forthcoming employee gaping hole in the burger flipping and fruit picking industries.


Or the NHS,, which has a few vacancies I believe

JamButty 22 May 2019
In reply to Mike Stretford:

As I read it Network Rail take about 100KT of steel rail.  Given that Steelmaking output at Scunthorpe alone is about 2.5MT then its fair to say the 95% is Network Rails.

I work for Tata Steel in Wales for info,  so we're not directly affected this time but we were all up for sale a few years back,  and our current JV with Thyssen is looking unlikely,  so its an ongoing challenge for the future of the whole UK steel industry.

I'm generally against government support for these sort of things as it opens up precedents and everyone will come knocking,  but I agree about the strategically important bit.  Is it really in the UK's best interests to rely on an external source for such a key resource as steel.  The amount of steel making that went into the World Wars played a massive part in the war effort,  and who knows where the world is going at present,.  but it ain't good!

Post edited at 12:48
neilh 22 May 2019
In reply to JamButty:

So the BBC is misquoting on this when it says that 95% of Scunthorpes  output goes to the rail network.

1
neilh 22 May 2019
In reply to Mike Stretford:

I too am a downstream steel customer. And one of my machining subcontractors is a former BR repair workshop that does alot of rail work.In their market everything for rail comes from British Steel.

Must admit I do not have to have traceable BS steel,but often wonder how that is backed up in practise.

Jon Greengrass 22 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

No you are misquoting, here is the text copy and pasted from the BBC news site to help you out

"One of British Steel's biggest customers is Network Rail, 95% - about 100,000, tonnes - of whose rails are supplied by British Steel's Scunthorpe plant. "

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48365241

wercat 22 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

Not Capes at Bowburn?

Post edited at 13:19
neilh 22 May 2019
In reply to Jon Greengrass:

The original BBC quote was different and has been clarified . That is far more detailed.

2
Ian W 22 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> The original BBC quote was different and has been clarified . That is far more detailed.

No it wasnt - I pointed you in that direction yesterday (upthread). The only additional detail is the inclusion of the volume of steel taken by network rail.

neilh 22 May 2019
In reply to Ian W:

do i really have to trawl back through the BBCto find where it shows they said 95% of production form that mill was for British steel. 

Or do we just both accept it had been updated regularly and that we are both right !

5
Ian W 22 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

Suits me (i dont think we want to turn into another two title contenders for pedant of the week, there are enough of those around already.........).

A bit of a minor quibble when we are about to lose another strategic industry, with more associated downstream risks than i think people are aware of. Yes something needs to be done about an industrial strategy; the only one in play at the moment is "is it cheaper at the moment?", and seems to follows Boris Johnsons (relatively) recent utterings on business in general........

i agree with most others that there needs to be development of different ways of producing steel in th UK, but we need continuity; when its gone, its gone. And the money asked for now is only a couple of Graylings (the amount spaffed up against the wall on contracts never enacted with various ferry companies). The 5k employees directly at risk pay approx £18m pa in tax and NI, never mind the supposed 20k additional jobs under threat, so there is a direct treasury cost as well as the human cost. Approx being a fag packet calc, but plus or minus 20%.

wintertree 22 May 2019
In reply to wercat:

> Not Capes at Bowburn?

That’s the one.  Our old next door neighbour told us how asbestos powder used to collect in a ditch by the site and he and his mates would play in it as kids, pretending it was snow.  

The new housing estate wasn’t getting a great reputation for itself.  It was supposed to be an industrial estate but the developers pledged poverty induced by cleanup costs and said they could only afford to do housing...

Its all change now - since David Abraham’s business went bust the farmland from Bowburn to Tursdale changed hands and is all being developed.

Ian W 22 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

> That’s the one.  Our old next door neighbour told us how asbestos powder used to collect in a ditch by the site and he and his mates would play in it as kids, pretending it was snow.  

> The new housing estate wasn’t getting a great reputation for itself.  It was supposed to be an industrial estate but the developers pledged poverty induced by cleanup costs and said they could only afford to do housing...

> Its all change now - since David Abraham’s business went bust the farmland from Bowburn to Tursdale changed hands and is all being developed.

I had thought you meant the one in Washington, which coincidentally is now housing as well. That development near Bowburn is a bit big, isn't it........and its fully how the housing always seems to get built at the expense of industry; the one at Thinford is still a bit housing-centric, with a few coffee drive thru's thrown in.......

wercat 22 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

I worked there temporarily for a few months in 1983 - I was told it was not asbestos related work.  I discovered that there was an asbestos material production line in the same building.  Was asked to do overtime on a Saturday involving curing roofing sheets with caustic chemicals.  Our supervisor offered us heavy aprons and mouth/nose respirators but told us "we'd work better without them".

I left shortly after those two revelations for a spell of unemployment before ending up in Applecross in the spring to work at Kishorn.

neilh 22 May 2019
In reply to Ian W:

So keep the furnaces ticking over , mothball it  and wait for Brexit and the govt to sort itself out.

That maybe the solution. 

I am amazed that nobody in the press is really hammering home the link to Brexit .

low £ and the cost of materials imports.  Loss of orders due to Brexit. The £100 million loan for carbon credits. Etc, etc. 

JLR with a £3.5 billion loss last year .....who is next?

2
Ian W 22 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

No, I'd keep it running, RBS / LLoyds style. Just don't use the nationalisation word. There is nothing too fundamentally wrong with the business (quality / productivity etc, and apparently it is close to being profitable) and if it was mothballed, the customers would lose the supply, and it would give the car types (for e.g.) another excuse to move abroad. Yes they are suffering from the exchange rate, but it would be a whole lot worse for their customers if the exchange rate falls (albeit possibly temporary, but at 3 years and counting I wouldnt bet on a recovery unless A50 is revoked) and the threat of tariffs on the whole of the supply, not just the ore will harm their customers' cost base.

JLR are looking hugely compromised, but handily for their export markets have just opened a nice shiny new factory in Slovakia. Perhaps their massive loss contains an element of kitchen sinking, in that they have put all the bad news into a bad year to make it a terrible year, thus also reducing their tax liabilities for a few years? And once we are out of the EU, the gloves will be off, and the EU will be able to pick and choose which manufacturers / banks they want to attract from GB. I would use UK, but there isnt much evidence of the "U" part at the moment.

profitofdoom 22 May 2019
In reply to Ian W:

> .There is nothing too fundamentally wrong with the business (quality / productivity etc, and apparently it is close to being profitable).....

OK, that's great news, I expect buyers will be lining up to buy the business then

Lurking Dave 24 May 2019
In reply to Ian W:

Except that you can't mothball a blast furnace in the way you would any other type of plant. You have two options. 

1) keep it running at nameplate capacity (and sell the steel produced), or 

2) Shut it down (restarting at a future point requires a reline & replace ancillary equipment, say six months and half a billion).

LD

marsbar 24 May 2019
In reply to Harry Jarvis:

> In which case, you may wish to question the North Lincolnshire Council Housing Strategy, which is where the number came from. 

I'd  certainly question whether the numbers in the strategy would drop quite a bit with the closure of the biggest employer in the area.  

Ian W 24 May 2019
In reply to Lurking Dave:

> Except that you can't mothball a blast furnace in the way you would any other type of plant. You have two options. 

> 1) keep it running at nameplate capacity (and sell the steel produced), or 

> 2) Shut it down (restarting at a future point requires a reline & replace ancillary equipment, say six months and half a billion).

> LD

Didnt suggest mothballing. Your (1) would be my suggestion.

wbo 25 May 2019
In reply to neilh:. This got knocked off the front pages pretty quick didn't it .  I can't imagine this will get too much government attention now - 

neilh 25 May 2019
In reply to wbo:

Yep. Nobody is bothered. Frightening.the press are ignoring it  

My latest theory is that Greybull  will still own the rights to the name British Steel. Which is of prime value. They will then make the steel in Europe. 

Only an idea.

Post edited at 11:27
Ian W 25 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> My latest theory is that Greybull  will still own the rights to the name British Steel. Which is of prime value. They will then make the steel in Europe. 

> Only an idea.

Someone beat you to it, Neil........ wouldn't it be strange if they let the uk plants close and bought the Netherlands and French assets from the administrator / receiver...........

https://britishsteel.co.uk/who-we-are/sites-locations/manufacturing/

Post edited at 12:13
HansStuttgart 25 May 2019
Ian W 25 May 2019
In reply to HansStuttgart:

Indeed that is interesting, and informative.

Eric9Points 29 May 2019
In reply to wintertree:

> But we should look at “exported emissions” from imported steel, not just local emissions.  The UK’s steel usage is high, and likely represents about 8% of our total emissions.

> My point that I have made clearly many times is that (a) if we choose to invest in future plant and not dead end plant we could become a world leader in the next generation of post carbon steel.  Or we could prop up a failing business that is 100% doomed when the coal runs out.  (b) This investment won’t cut current emissions as we’ll import emission laden steel during the development process. 


Just read an article on carbon neutral steelmaking. ArcelorMittal are seriously thinking about. Their timeline appears to be in decades.

Fine for the future but not a viable option for keeping Scunthorpe open.

Ian W 29 May 2019
In reply to neilh:

> So keep the furnaces ticking over , mothball it  and wait for Brexit and the govt to sort itself out.

> That maybe the solution. 

> I am amazed that nobody in the press is really hammering home the link to Brexit .

> low £ and the cost of materials imports.  Loss of orders due to Brexit. The £100 million loan for carbon credits. Etc, etc. 

> JLR with a £3.5 billion loss last year .....who is next?

It appears JLR have been writing down assets (hence the huge book loss) in preparation for a sale.......

http://cardealermagazine.co.uk/publish/documents-suggest-sale-jaguar-land-rover-psa-imminent/171005


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