After a series of trials at its rolling mill, LSUK will start shipping rebar product to customers in September, using recycled greensteel from Liberty’s electric arc furnace.
The market for rebar, used to reinforce concrete, is estimated to be worth £500m a year and rising, thanks to the upcoming HS2 project which will require nearly a million tonnes of the stuff.
According to Liberty, the UK currently consumes about 1.2 million tonnes of rebar a year, with half of this demand currently met by imports, despite a surplus of scrap metal produced in the UK, which could be recycled into the supply chain, it says.
Liberty House Group paid £100m in 2017 to purchase the speciality steel division of Tata Steel Europe.
Since then it has been working to ensure that greensteel – steel produced from recycled material – becomes part of the UK supply chain.
Peter Gate, commercial director of Liberty Steel & Bar, said: “This is an exciting development which demonstrates our commitment to domestic steel production in the UK. We’re fast-tracking the development of new product to support UK manufacturing as part of the national recovery from Covid-19. In particular, we aim to be in a position to supply domestically produced steel rebar to HS2.
“It makes little sense for Britain to import such a high volume of reinforcing steel bar when there is capability to make this essential material at home, using a sustainable model based on recycled material.”
LSUK’s capability will be to supply rebar sizes 25mm, 32mm, 40mm and 50mm in Grade B500C (BS4449) by September 2020, with further sizes being added before the year-end. The plan includes a timeline for full Cares approval and sustainability approval.
Reinforcing bar will add to LSUK’s range of products which already includes steel long products, hot rolled steel coils, precision tubes, merchant bar and speciality steel components. Other products under development include powder metals.
Liberty Steel Group executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta said: “It has been three years since we acquired the business from Tata Steel and expanded steelmaking at Rotherham under our greensteel vision for the UK. Since then we’ve made vital upgrades to the plant, doubling production, and returned the business to profitability before it was affected by a Brexit impacted weak steel market in 2019 which has been followed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As we make plans for a post-pandemic economy, we have challenged ourselves to think differently across our product mix, assets and cost base to improve competitiveness and prepare for a new future. With the new developments at Thrybergh Bar Mill the business is well prepared to win a greater share of the construction market in the UK with a competitive greensteel rebar offering for projects such as HS2 which will lead to a significant boost in production at Rotherham.”
Liberty Steel employs 1,800 people in the South Yorkshire area, with sites at Rotherham, Stocksbridge, Thrybergh and Brinsworth.