Redcar steelworks receiver confirms closure of coke ovens

13 October 2015

The coke ovens and blast furnace at the mothballed Redcar steelworks in north-east England are to be closed, dashing hopes that any of the plant’s 2,200 jobs can be saved.

The company that owns the works was put into liquidation earlier this month after the government rejected a last-ditch appeal for financial help. The official receiver said on Monday that the decision to switch off the furnaces came after no viable offers were received from potential buyers and because there were no funds to keep fuelling them.

The plant’s owners, Thailand-based Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI), had said it could no longer support its loss-making UK subsidiary, which has run up debts of £500m. SSI said 1,700 directly employed staff would be axed. At least 500 workers were kept on while the liquidator held discussions with potential buyers for the mothballed Teesside plant, Europe’s second biggest steelworks.

There had been hopes that the coke ovens could be kept running with a view to restarting the works under a future owner. But the closure of the ovens suggests the remaining staff will lose their jobs.

Ken Beasley, the official receiver, said in a statement issued by the Insolvency Service: “SSI was placed into liquidation with substantial debts and had no funds available to purchase the coal needed to keep the coking ovens operational.

“I have ensured the continued operation of the ovens whilst I dealt with health and safety issues and considered whether there were any viable offers for the ovens. There is no realistic prospect of a buyer being found and the priority now is to close the ovens down safely. I cannot continue to draw on taxpayers’ funds to keep the ovens operational when there is no realistic prospect that a buyer will be found.”

Beasley, who was appointed liquidator by Manchester’s high court, said he would continue to talk with interested parties about purchasing the company’s other assets. But the Insolvency Service added: “Unfortunately, staff numbers will decline as the closure plan progresses.”