How lucky we are in Sheffield and Rotherham to have a world-famous special steel industry.
Lucky that there is a growing demand.
Lucky that there are the technical skills here in the Don Valley, built up over 200 years.
Lucky that the base raw material for Special Steel-making, graded scrap, can be mainly sourced locally from offcuts etc from the 2,000, or so, engineering & manufacturing firms in the region.
Lucky that limestone, to act as a flux in the steel-making process, is sourced locally.
Lucky that the industry has spawned research and testing facilities, and has been at the forefront of world steel progress, from crucible steel to manganese self-hardening steel, to stainless steel, to continuous casting.
Lucky to have Sheffield University, founded by steelman Mark Firth, at the forefront of research, from the 10 ton open hearth furnace built in their own steelworks in 1910, to today’s Advance Manufacturing Research Centre.
With all this luck, as the sticker at the back of cars points out: “Watch some blighter spoil it!”
And the spoiler is – the British Government!
The Government has no understanding of industry’s needs and no sense of urgency.
Crippling ‘green’ costs imposed by government means it is cheaper to melt steel in Germany, and perhaps send the two million tons, or so, scrap from local engineering firms to China for melting there. (How green is that?).
Moreover, we read that fines of up to half a million pounds are imposed by the National Grid, if our steel mills use electricity at times of high demand, as demand exceeds supply, with coal-fired power stations closing, and demand soaring as population grows from 50/60 million to 75 million.
Germany made what seemed an uncharacteristic knee-jerk decision, to stop nuclear power transmissions, after a tsunami hit a sea-side plant in Japan.
They didn’t leave the Ruhr steel industry in the lurch, though, as they rushed through plans to open nine deep-mined coalmines.
I’m sure Ruhr steelmen are grateful to the British Government, for gifting them the black bar orders from Thrybergh mill in Rotherham.
Knab Rd, S7