Lafarge play part in rebirth of Teesside steelmaking
Featured in03 May 2012 - 16:19
Dowlow and Thrislington quarries supplying essential limestones to reinvigorated steelworks in Redcar
LIMESTONE from two Lafarge quarries is playing an essential part in the rebirth of the steel industry on Teesside. Thousands of tonnes of material from Dowlow, in Derbyshire, and Thrislington, in Co. Durham, are being supplied to the reinvigorated steelworks at Redcar.
It is the first time Lafarge Aggregates & Concrete UK has directly sold into the steelmaking market from Dowlow and the deal could see around 500,000 tonnes a year supplied from the quarry.
Steve Lea, Lafarge northern aggregates sales manager, said: ‘This is a fantastic opportunity for us and we are proud to be part of the return of steelmaking in the North East. Not only will this bring jobs back to the plant, but it will cascade down to all the companies which provide associated services and be a real catalyst for regeneration.’
Mothballed by Tata Steel in February 2010, the Teesside Cast Products plant was purchased by Thai firm Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI) in a £291 million deal in March last year. After many months of preparation, the huge blast furnace – one of the largest in Europe – was relit on 15 April 2012.
In preparation for the relight, Lafarge supplied, by rail, initial orders of 15,000 tonnes of both Carboniferous limestone from Dowlow and dolomitic limestone from Thrislington.
The Dowlow delivery was the first stock of raw material to reach the steelworks, ahead of a shipment of iron ore from Brazil, while the Thrislington cargo required the opening of the site’s railhead for the first time in 23 years – a prospect which excited site manager, Steve Carter.
He said: ‘The last train went from Thrislington in 1993, so to see the wagons load and move off was quite a momentous sight. Our railhead is now fully functional again, which is great.’
Peter Wheeldon, product technical manager, explained how various aspects of Lafarge’s operations appealed to SSI, including the quality of current and future mineral reserves, and the company’s sustainable transport credentials.
‘The reopening of the Redcar plant is of immense importance for Teesside; there is a real buzz around the place and a renewed optimism,’ he said. ‘We are very excited to be part of that.’
The blast furnace is now fully fired up and expected to burn constantly for the next 15 years, producing 11,000 tonnes of iron a day.