Steelworkers aim to forge bright future despite Tata sale uncertainty

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel  in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees
19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees
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Tata steelworkers in South Yorkshire believe they can forge a new future - despite ongoing uncertainty around the planned sale of the business.

The company opened the doors of its Rotherham and Stocksbridge sites on Tuesday for a rare look behind the scenes of its speciality steel operations, which are largely run from South Yorkshire.

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel  in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees

Tata announced plans in March to sell of all of its UK sites - but, earlier this month, the firm announced it would be selling off its speciality steel venture as a separate entity while considering a new joint venture to run the rest of its British operations.

Steve Allard, works manager at the Stocksbridge site, said despite the ongoing uncertainty staff still envisage a future for the steelworks.

“It is obviously an unsettling time,” he said.

“But we have got a business we are proud of, confident in and have lots of plans for the future.

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel  in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees

“We are thinking about what we can affect to put ourselves in the best possible position.”

Mr Allard said he was hopeful a buyer could be found for the speciality steel operations.

He said: “We have got a business here that is specialising further and further and has got a lot more potential.”

He said Tata has been a good owner, and has invested in the sites since taking over from Corus in 2007.

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel  in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees

Using scrap metal taken from cars, as well as materials recycled from its own processes, the speciality steels arm of the business creates everything from landing gear for commercial and military aircraft down to razor blades.

They have a particular focus on the aerospace industry and £15m has recently been invested into new machinery at Stocksbridge to enable the production of thousands of tonnes of ultra-high grade steel to serve the sector.

Stephen Carey, a technical manager responsible for the new vacuum induction melting furnace which started running last year, said: “It means a much higher-quality product with much higher strength.

“What they are looking for is something very light but also very strong.”

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel  in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees

The speciality steels operation employs around 1,700 people, the majority of whom are based at the sites in Thrybergh, Brinsworth and Stocksbridge.

It sells more than 200,000 tonnes of steel per year, with a turnover of £270m.

The operation’s customers include Rolls-Royce, with its parts used in Boeing and Airbus planes.

Its steel is used for a vast array of different products, including plough blades, oil and gas drilling tools and bearings for manufacturing mills.

Lianne Deeming, managing director of the speciality steels division, said: “Speciality is being offered as a separate entity for sale.

“We are currently going through the sales process and wanted to make sure the understanding of our speciality service was clear to people.”

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel  in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel  in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel  in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel  in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel  in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel  in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees

19 July 2016 ...Tour of Tata Steel in Rotherham and Stocksbridge to view the high standard of steel produced those sites. Picture Scott Merrylees