London: Britain is to pump 500 million pounds ($621 million) into Tata Steel to decarbonise its Welsh site, in a deal aimed at securing the future of the country’s steel industry but which puts as many as 3,000 jobs at risk.
The 1.25 billion pound total funding package for Britain’s biggest steel works includes 750 million pounds from Tata to pay for the switch to producing steel from lower-emission electric arc furnaces from coal-powered methods.
Britain’s government said in a statement its grant, described as one of the largest government support packages in history, would help safeguard 5,000 jobs.
Tata Steel currently employs more than 8,000 people, raising the prospect that there will be as many as 3,000 redundancies as the lower-carbon electric furnaces are less labour-intensive.
India-owned Tata Steel had long warned that without government help it could close its sites and British business and trade minister Kemi Badenoch said on Friday the government was securing jobs for the long-term.
“The UK government is backing our steel sector, and this proposal will secure a sustainable future for Welsh steel and is expected to save thousands of jobs in the long term,” she said in a statement.
The government said Tata Steel UK would now inform and consult with staff and unions on the proposals.
Britain’s steel industry directly employs 39,800 people according to figures released by UK Steel in May, and supports a further 50,000 jobs in the supply chain.
A domestic steel-making industry is crucial to Britain’s security because it is used to build warships and fighter jets, as well as underpinning the manufacturing, auto and transport sectors.
Britain said the new electric furnaces would cut the country’s entire emissions by around 1.5 per cent.