A STEEL maker says it has extended a North-East plant to meet rising demand.

Tata Steel has added to its Teesside Service Centre, in Redcar, as it prepares to handle more than 170,000 tonnes of steel this year.

The site, which stands next to Tata’s Teesside Beam Mill, serves a number of construction and infrastructure projects, including new schools, hospitals and sports buildings.

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Bosses say the company has spent £8.5m on the plant, which includes warehousing, shot-blasting and uses thirteen cranes and five saws to work on orders.

Employing 94 staff, including about 40 posts created when it opened in 2012, the centre manages and distributes steel from Teesside Beam Mill, as well as Tata’s Scunthorpe sections mill and its tubes mills in Corby, Northamptonshire.

Ian Beveridge, Tata’s director of construction structures, said: “We set up the centre to offer customers a uniquely flexible service.

“The investments we’ve made in handling and processing equipment mean we’re able to offer a product and delivery service with unrivalled speed and efficiency.

“That all adds up to Teesside Service Centre being the leading distribution site in the UK and the benchmark in our industry.”

Tata is the world's 11th largest steel producer, and employs about 1,500 North-East workers.

Alongside its Teesside Beam Mill, it also operates the Hartlepool pipe mill, which supplies pipes for energy projects, with its plant in Skinningrove, east Cleveland, providing steel for track shoes on earthmoving vehicles.