Steel workers facing job losses under £500 million Net Zero subsidy plan

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By Paul Homewood

Thousands of workers at Britain’s biggest steel mill are facing redundancy under a taxpayer-funded net zero plan.

Tata Steel will be given £500m of taxpayer cash to fund its switch to net zero at its Port Talbot steelworks.

The Indian conglomerate is expected to invest £1.25bn in retooling the site to produce “greener” steel, which ministers said will reduce the UK’s entire carbon emissions by around 1.5pc.
However, the new processes will require fewer jobs and Tata will consult on a restructuring that could lead to 3,000 redundancies

The Unite union described the plans as a “disgrace” and vowed to fight them. TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said it was a “devastating blow for workers at Port Talbot and the opposite of a just transition”

Tata has been in talks with the Government for months about state aid to help switch the plant’s two coal-fired blast furnaces to electric arc versions that can run on zero-carbon electricity
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If electric arc furnaces were the most efficient way of making steel, Port Talbot would already be investing in them, without the need for subsidies.

The reality is that arc furnaces use huge amounts of electricity, and at current prices are not as economical as blast furnaces, particularly as the coke used in the latter process provides coke gas, which is used in other parts of the steel works.

There is a further issue – arc furnaces rely on steel scrap and pig iron. But there is only a limited supply of scrap, and the pig iron will have to be sourced from other steel mills, which use blast furnaces anyway. In other words there is only an illusion of emission cuts, the likelihood being that pig iron will simply be imported.

A worker in the blast furnace at Tata Steel’s Port Talbot plant CREDIT: GEOFF CADDICK/AFP via Getty Images

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