Hundreds of jobs are going to be created when steelmaking is brought back to Teesside, it was announced today.

Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor, said that the news today (Monday, November 6) confirmed that his pledge to bring back steel jobs to the region has been fulfilled.

British Steel has announced it is investing in the area by building an electric arc furnace (EAF) in Redcar with plans for it to be operational by 2025.

Howener, The Chinese-owned company also confirmed that will close down its blast furnaces at its Scunthorpe plant - a move that unions say could cost up to 2,000 jobs.

It plans to replace them with two EAFs - which can run on zero-carbon electricity - in Scunthorpe and on Teesside, if it gets “appropriate support from the UK Government”.

Mr Houchen said: "We’re here because three years ago, in January 2020, I made a pledge that if I was re-elected as mayor I would bring steelmaking back to Teesside.

"From that day onwards I have been working intensely to try to bring that investment back.

"In 2015, we never thought we’d be here again.

The Northern Echo: British Steel

"To be able to stand here and say that steelmaking is coming back and this is not the end of our story on Teesside in relation to steel is something I am very proud of.

"In Teesside there will be hundreds of jobs created directly within the steel plant - but equally as importantly it also protects the almost 1,000 jobs that British Steel already employ.

"We’re creating new jobs but we’re also protecting old jobs in Teesside decades to come.

"We wouldn’t exist as a people if steelmaking didn’t exist. We literally would not be here.

"If it wasn’t for the iron ore found in the Cleveland hills by Henry Bolckow we wouldn’t exist.

"Teesside wouldn’t be a place. It’s important for communities. People need to know that this isn’t just an industry that built us but that it can also be part of our future."

Addressing the potential for 2,000 job losses in Scunthorpe Mr Houchen said: "My understanding is that those numbers will not be anywhere near as high as those that have been rumoured in the press.

"My priority is Teesside and there will be no job losses on Teesside.

"Jobs will be created here."

Councillor Alec Brown, Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, said: "British Steel’s decision to expand its operation in Redcar and Cleveland is fantastic news and will bring high quality jobs to a borough which has a long and distinguished history of steelmaking.

"We have been working behind the scenes with key personnel from British Steel and its parent company, Jingye Group, to provide an environment which encourages the kind of investment announced today.

"Generations of families in Redcar and Cleveland has prospered through employment in the steelmaking industry. The closure of the Redcar blast furnace was a huge blow to both our borough and the wider region, but British Steel has continued to invest in its operations and workforce at both Lackenby and Skinningrove.

"The expansion at Lackenby is a real demonstration of faith in Redcar and Cleveland and it its residents who provide the unique skills and commitment which will ensure the ongoing success of steelmaking in our borough.

"One of my key pledges when I stood for election earlier this year was to do everything to support good quality jobs coming to our borough.

"This is a clear demonstration of delivering on that pledge and I look forward to continuing to work with British Steel and the Jingye Group in the years to come."

British Steel CEO and President, Xijun Cao, said: “Decarbonisation is a major challenge for our business but we are committed to manufacturing the home-made, low-embedded carbon steel the UK needs.

“We have engaged extensively with the public and private sector to understand the feasibility of producing net zero steel with our current blast furnace operations. However, thorough analysis shows this is not viable.

“Detailed studies show electrification could rapidly accelerate our journey to net zero and drive British Steel towards a sustainable future. It would also ensure we can provide our customers with the steel they require.

“Our owners, Jingye, have already invested £330 million in British Steel in just 3 years and they’re committed to the unprecedented investment our proposals require.”

MPs across the North East including Alex Cunningham, Simon Clarke and Jacob Young have all voiced their support for the boost that the project will bring to the area.

Jacob Young, Conservative MP for Redcar, said: "In 2015, few would have believed we would ever see steelmaking return to our area. And so today marks a truly historic moment - the return of steelmaking to Teesside.

"This investment by British Steel is a testament to the hard work of people like Ben Houchen and my Conservative Teesside colleagues who have supported the regeneration of Teesworks every step of the way and have been instrumental in turning this vision into a reality.

"More than that, this moment is a testament to the enduring spirit and resilience of Teesside - a region that simply will not stay down.

"We have an identity long forged with the fires of industry, and today's announcement represents a legacy that will now continue into a new age, one of sustainable manufacturing and clean industry. 

"I am immensely proud to see our community taking this significant stride forward, ensuring that the steel industry, which was the backbone of our economy for generations, will continue to thrive for many more to come.”

Simon Clarke, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said: “The return of steel making marks the decisive next stage of Conservative-led renewal here on Teesside.  

"This announcement is massive news for our local economy, and secures the future of British Steel’s excellent existing Special Profiles division at Skinningrove far into the future.

“Steel is in our blood on Teesside, and this isn’t just about hundreds of jobs, it’s about our whole identity as a region. 

"From saving our airport to our Freeport and now to steel, when Ben makes his promises he keeps them, and everything he and the Government are making possible on Teesside is incredibly exciting.”

Labour parliamentary candidates Anna Turley and Joe Dancey also said they were backing the project.

Ms Turley said: "Everyone welcomes this news which is a real sign of confidence in the quality of our workforce and the steel heritage we have here on Teesside.

"Today’s announcement is an important signal that our steel industry here on Teesside has a modern and sustainable future as we move to Net Zero and a new, green industrial renaissance on the banks of the river.

"This investment today needs to be part of a sustainable strategy that secures the future for steel in this country with British-led investment and manufacture, so we won’t have to rely on Chinese state-owned companies in future."

Electric arc furnaces are much greener than blast furnaces, but require a lot fewer workers to keep them going.

Steelworkers' union Community has raised concerns about the job losses caused by closing down the Scunthorpe blast furnace.

Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community, said: "Community acknowledges British Steel’s early engagement on proposals to transition to green steel and we welcome the company’s commitment to support our experts to scrutinise their plans.

"It is deeply disappointing however that once again our members first heard of these plans through irresponsible leaks to the media.

"We are deeply concerned by British Steel’s plans for an EAF-only approach at Scunthorpe and Teesside, and it is vital a meaningful consultation takes place to assess all the options to secure the future of steelmaking.

"Were they to be realised the plans that British Steel has announced, combined with Tata Steel’s plans, would leave the UK unable to make steel from raw materials and dangerously exposed to international markets. Community firmly believes that the blast furnaces continue to be vital in any responsible transition to green steelmaking.

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"Even the Government’s own backbenchers recognise that an EAF-only approach is dangerous and foolhardy, with the Conservative Northern Research Group only this weekend urging the Prime Minister to intervene to keep the blast furnaces open.

"All options for decarbonisation must remain on the table, and Community will do whatever it takes to protect our members interests.

"With the right commitment from all stakeholders we can deliver a just transition that saves our planet, saves our jobs, and saves our steel."