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Steelmaking reborn at Teesside site

Metal production is back under way at one of the UK's biggest steel plants, with the first usable slabs of iron due to be produced within days.

Photographs have been released of the blast furnace being relit at the plant in Teeside in the north-east of England, which was rescued from the prospect of closure a year ago by Sahaviriya Steel Industries (SSI) of Thailand.

A gas lance was used to reignite the furnace in a special ceremony. The move will mark the resumption of steelmaking on Teesside following the mothballing of the plant in February 2010.

Around 1,700 workers are now employed on the site and the figure will increase to 1,800, similar to the numbers on site under the previous ownership.

Win Viriyaprapaikit, president of SSI, donned a white hard hat while attending the ceremony in Redcar.

He said: "This is a very proud day for us in SSI and for me personally. I believe that the investment we have made at Teesside will result in a very successful business which will benefit all of the stakeholders involved, including the local community and employees for generations to come."

Phil Dryden, chief executive of SSI UK, said: "I would like to pay tribute to all those who have made this day possible, including the stakeholders for their investment and the people who have worked so hard on the restart project. We now look forward with confidence to resuming the long tradition of steelmaking on Teesside and establishing SSI UK as world class steelmaker."

SSI bought the Teesside Cast Products plant from Indian firm Tata a year ago for around £400 million, rescuing the site from the prospect of closure.

Redcar will produce steel slab, almost all of which will be exported to Thailand.

A spokesman said: "Initially all the steel will go to Thailand but that is not to say in the future it will be sold on the open market if it is viable."

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