Page last updated at 13:00 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

New steel works facilities opened

Corus steelworks in Shotton
Shotton steelworks could produce steel coated with solar cells

New high-tech environmental facilities at a steelworks in Deeside have been opened by First Minister Rhodri Morgan.

The two new multi-million pound projects at Corus' Shotton steel works should safeguard around 600 jobs at the plant.

One will produce panelling which includes insulation for roofing on commercial or residential buildings.

The second will undertake research into steel coated with solar cell technology to produce electricity.

Rhodri Morgan said it showed how companies were putting environmental technology at the forefront of investment plans.

"During difficult times in the construction sector, it is more important than ever for companies to be right at the forefront of new environmental technology exploiting new niche markets," he said.

Corus steelworks in Shotton
Millions of pounds will be invested in Shotton steel works

"That's what today's product launches are all about.

"They are yet another example of how Corus continually looks to innovate and invest in delivering some of the most sustainable products available to today's construction sector."

The Shotton plant employs around 600 workers.

The new 6m production line at the works will produce around three million square metres of panelling a year using three shifts of workers.

It is widely recognised as the most automated and efficient production line in Europe.

The two panels sandwich insulation material between them.

The second project is an 11m joint collaboration between Corus and the Australian company Dyesol.

It is backed with about 5m in assembly government money, said a Corus spokesman.

The scheme aims to produce metal cladding products coated with a special dye including cells to make electricity.

"Steel production is being reduced across Western Europe, but demand for innovative products is very high," said the spokesman.

Shotton has lost more than 490 jobs since 2001 with the slim-down in the steel industry.

Corus was taken over by Tata Steel last year and the combined enterprise employs around 82,700 people across four continents.

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