05 Apr 2023

British Steel will offer alternative roles to 250 colleagues affected by closure of its Scunthorpe coke ovens

British Steel today announced it would offer alternative roles to around 250 colleagues affected by the closure of its Scunthorpe coke ovens.

The company will close the coke ovens as part of its drive to overcome global economic challenges and build a green and sustainable future.

Last year the company saw its bills for energy and carbon increase by £190 million and it said decisive action is required because of the unprecedented rise in operating costs, surging inflation and the need to improve environmental performance.

Following a full review of the business rationale behind the coke ovens proposal, and as a result of there being no compulsory redundancies among coke ovens employees, the trade unions have confirmed they will not object to the proposed closure and that the formal consultation process on this matter is now complete.

A British Steel spokesperson said: “In the coming months we will press ahead with the closure of the coke ovens and we are pleased to say all employees affected by this decision will be offered alternative roles in the business. We appreciate this has been a difficult time for everyone involved and I’d like to thank our people and the trade unions for their professionalism throughout the consultation process.”

The company’s coke ovens, situated at British Steel’s integrated steelmaking site in Scunthorpe, are reaching the end of their operational life and their closure will bring environmental benefits including reductions in emissions to air and water.

British Steel is undergoing the biggest transformation in its 130-year history on the journey to net zero. As announced in February, it is continuing to look at other potential cost-saving measures across the business and called on the UK Government to provide more help with decarbonisation.

A company spokesperson said: “Jingye has invested £330 million in capital projects at British Steel during its first 3 years of ownership but we also need the support of the UK Government with whom we remain in talks. We are looking forward to rapidly progressing these discussions as Jingye is committed to transforming our business with planned investments providing the government can give assurances of a competitive landscape for energy and carbon.

“Our decarbonisation strategy is underpinned by our Low-Carbon Roadmap, which will help secure low-embedded carbon steelmaking in the UK. However, we are still waiting for the British government to adopt the correct policies and frameworks now to back our drive to become a clean, green and successful company. Governments in the countries where our major competitors operate have adopted such policies and the longer we wait for their implementation in the UK, the more impact this will have on our competitiveness and the country's ability to meet its carbon objectives. We are committed to working with the government and to making the home-made steel Britain needs for generations to come.”

British Steel was bought by Jingye in March 2020 and since then its new owner has invested heavily in the business. Major ongoing projects include the installations of a £54 million billet caster and a £26 million mast service centre, along with a near £50 million upgrade to its wire rod mill.

Other investments include £30 million on new unloaders for British Steel’s port facility, £14.6 million for improvements in energy operations and £9 million for a new rail stocking facility. All developments will improve British Steel’s product quality, range and service.