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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 October, 2003, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK
Steel closure costs 116 jobs
AvestaPolarit plant
The Finnish owners merged steel operations to form AvestaPolarit
More than 100 jobs will be lost with the closure of a factory in the south Wales valleys, bringing to an end an era of steelmaking.

Finnish firm AvestaPolarit said the decision to close its plant at Panteg near Pontypool by next March was made against a background of poor financial performance over many years.

The shutdown, with the loss of 116 jobs, is another knock for the steel industry in Wales, which has seen 3,000 redundancies though Corus' retraction over the last few years.

Forty-four staff at the plant - which makes stainlees steel coil products - were made redundant in January last year.

Twenty jobs at the company's factory in Sheffield will also go in the latest cutbacks.

Both Torfaen MP Paul Murphy and AM Lynne Neagle described the closure as a "big blow".

I worked at Panteg in the 1960s and 1970s - when it employed thousands - and I know what the impact of these redundancies will be
Michael Leahy, ISTC
In a joint statement they said they would contact with assembly Economic Development Minister Andrew Davies.

They said it was also a cause of great sadness to see the potential end of over a century of steelmaking in our area.

"Mr Murphy's great grandfather came over from Ireland to work in what was then a great centre of steel making in the eastern valley," it said.

Consultation with the workforce and unions at both factories will also begin immediately.

The cold rolling plant at Panteg has produced around 30,000 tonnes of stainless steel a year.


Michael Leahy, general secretary of the ISTC steel union, described the closure as "a tragedy for tthose losing their jobs, their families and the whole Pontypool community.

"I worked at Panteg in the 1960s and 1970s - when it employed thousands - and I know what the impact of these redundancies will be."

AvestaPolarit was the former British Steel stainless steel plant.

It was previously known as Avesta Sheffield, a company created through a merger with a Swedish company 11 years ago, with British Steel the major shareholder.

There was a further merger a few years ago with Finnish company Outokumpu, while steel giant Corus sold its stake last year for 343m.

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