Hope and despair for state of steel

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Prince Charles brought a mothballed furnace back into use at a South Yorkshire factory – and his visit triggered a debate online about the state of the UK steel industry.

The Prince of Wales came to the county on Friday and went to Liberty Speciality Steels in Rotherham, where he lit the giant ‘N-Furnace’, put out of use by previous owners Tata in 2015.

Writing on The Star’s Facebook page, Davey Cammack said: “British steel is the best in the world. We invented it, we perfected it and because of the EU we had it taken away from us, by allowing the Chinese to sell their state-subsidised steel to the EU, and also allowing the French to sell their state-subsidised steel in the form of state owned energy companies providing cheap energy.”

But Matthew Tonks commented that it was ‘more than great news’. “It’s fantastic news and the start of a new generation of manufacturing.”

And Ross Mason said: “Up north makes the money and it all flows down. We mined coal and iron. We made steel. We made railways and the spinning jenny.”

Dave Smith observed: “It’s nice to see people back into work, doing what South Yorkshire does best. Made and forged in Sheffield.”

However, Terence Timmins complained: “It’s a pity Tinsley Park was sacrified in favour of lesser plants. A good site with good people.”

Jan Woning said: “The best steel still comes from Sheffield. I’ve used it. There always will be a market for it.”

But Daniel Frank Worthington warned: “Let’s see how long it lasts.”

The restart is part of a multi-million pound investment by the Liberty House Group and the 800,000-tonne-a-year furnace, which turns scrap metal into specialised steels for uses such as vehicle gearboxes or aircraft landing gear, will now play a pivotal role in Liberty’s Greensteel strategy, which is designed to create a cleaner era for the industry in the UK. It took five months to repair and upgrade the equipment.