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Page last updated at 12:21 GMT, Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Corus - Past, Present and Future

Ian Reeve
By Business & Industry Correspondent Ian Reeve
BBC Look North

Corus workers march through Redcar
Corus workers march through Redcar

With a history of nearly 170 years, the iron and steel making industry on Teesside is on the verge of demise.

For the last six months, the steelmaker Corus's blast furnace and steel slab-making plant at Redcar - Teesside Cast Products (TCP) - has been under threat of mothballing.

If that happens then it's likely that 2000 steel jobs will be lost, as well as 1000 more in the local supply chain.

BBC Look North's Ian Reeve examines the current position for Corus in Nov 2009.

Foreign consortium

There has been a reduction in demand for steel around the world - the economies of China and India, where much of Corus's steel ended up, have contracted.

And with cheaper steel available from eastern Europe, the problem of dwindling demand for Corus has been compounded.

The problems really started for Corus when a foreign consortium declined to play by the rules and take the nearly 80% of Corus's Teesside-made steel that it had contractually promised to do.

Marcegaglia of Italy, South Korea's Dongkuk, Switzerland's Duferco and Alvory of Argentina walked away nearly five years into the ten-year deal, unwilling to take the steel at above market price.

The move was roundly condemned.

Terry Pye, the national officer of the union Unite said:

"Our members have worked extremely hard for this consortium and they will be outraged by its decision to pull out of this legally binding agreement and jeopardise the livelihoods of so many workers."

Argentinian buyer?

Legal action is ongoing. But what Corus needs now is another buyer to take its yearly output of about three million tones of slab steel - surely unlikely - or for a buyer for the whole TCP operation to emerge - much more likely.

The plant is highly efficient and in the current climate a buyer could get a bargain. Severstal of Russia and CSN of Brazil have been mentioned as potential purchasers. An unnamed Argentinian buyer is also rumoured to be talking to Corus.

Redcar Steelworks has dominated the Teesside skyline for decades.
Redcar Steelworks has dominated the Teesside skyline for decades.

In the interim, the plant has enough orders to keep it in business until the end of December, and another extension of one month or more is expected - something that could be taken as a sign that a deal to sell the plant is being worked on, rather than it being a desire by Corus to keep steel-making going on a month-by-month basis - not really a viable way to run a business.

If a sale doesn't happen and the plant is mothballed, Corus will still have about 2,000 workers on Teesside, in Hartlepool, at Lackenby and in Skinningrove.

Corus: How did it come to this?
23 Nov 09 |  People & Places


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