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Tata Steel begins work on blast furnace at UK plant

Press Trust of India  |  London 

has launched an ambitious project to significantly extend the operational life of one of the two huge blast furnaces of its UK's largest steelworks at in

The plant's giant 5, which has been running for the past 15 years producing almost 30 million tonnes of iron, is now being drained so vital engineering work can be carried out inside, extending its life by five to seven years, said Friday.

"This is the biggest single investment we have made at the site for more than five years and demonstrates our commitment to building a stronger and more sustainable business in the now and in the future," said Bimlendra Jha, of Tata Steel's business.

Once the heart of the furnace, which is normally more than 1,200 degrees Celsius, has cooled, skilled engineers will begin work to replace parts of the heat resistant interior and vital structural parts, it said.

The project, costing tens of millions of pounds and expected to take several months, will also see the and dust extraction system being replaced.

Alan Coombs, of the multi-union committee, said: "This investment in Port Talbot is a huge vote of confidence in the workforce, and follows some other major investments which will help sustain the industry in the "

said 5 life extension project is a critical part of the company's long-term strategy to strengthen its operations in the UK and will underpin improvements throughout its UK

Confirmation of the investment came at the same time as the announcement in June of definitive agreements being signed by and Tata Steel to form a joint venture of their European

On Friday, project engineers began what is known as a salamander tap of the furnace. This involves a number of holes being drilled through the base of the furnace to fully drain it of liquid iron. The operation is carried out remotely and it is expected it could take more than a day to remove all the remaining iron, the company said.

Tata Steel is one of Europe's leading steel producers, with in the and the UK, and plants across

The company supplies high-quality to the most demanding markets, including construction and infrastructure, automotive, packaging and engineering.

In June, it had announced a historic 50-50 joint venture with German Thyssenkrupp, creating Europe's second-largest steelworks after NRI steel magnate

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, September 16 2018. 17:55 IST