UK’s Thamesteel goes into administration

Thamesteel, the former Sheerness Steel minimill located at Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey at the mouth of the Thames some 50 miles (80km) east of London, called in the Receivers on 25 January.

The company, owned by the Al-Tuwairqi group of Saudi Arabia since 2003, has not produced any steel since November 2011.

The company was set up by the Canadian group Co-Steel in 1972 as Sheerness Steel to produce rebar via the scrap based EAF route. The company at that time had a progressive training scheme and was not afraid of trying innovative technology, introducing the first commercial EAF with a scrap preheater shaft, supplied by Fuchs.

In 1999, the company was acquired by UK based Allied Steel & Wire (ASW) headquartered in Cardiff (since acquired by Celsa) who stripped the site of its bar mill and one billet caster and closed the site.

The site was bought and reopened by the Saudi based minimill group Al-Tuwairqi at the close of 2002, renamed Thamesteel, and reopened as a billet producer exporting to Al-Tuwairqi’s plant in Damman, Saudi Arabia.

In 2006, as part of a £40M investment, a bar mill to produce rebar in coil was installed and the Fuch shaft furnace replaced with a conventional EAF supplied by Siemens VAI (Fuchs division) of 95t capacity. While the furnace is capable of producing 1Mt/y, downstream capacity limits output to 840kt/y of billet and 600t/y of rolled product. Finished product includes rebar, wire rod, round bar and flat bar.

In June 2010, the company acquired rebar fabricator Kierbeck, in which it previously had a 51% holding along with Dutch based Van Merksteijn.

The accountancy firm Mazars has been appointed receivers. Local Unions state they are happy to cooperate with any potential buyers to reopen the company.

In 2009, the Italian company Riva was said to have shown an interest in taking a stake.

For a profile of the company see STI October 2009 Vol 33 No7 p32-33