The Prince of Wales has marked “major milestone” in the steel industry by formally reigniting a previously mothballed furnace.
The electric arc furnace at Liberty Speciality Steels in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, was decommissioned by previous owners during the steel crisis two-and-a-half years ago.
The relighting on Friday formed part of a multimillion-pound investment by the Liberty House Group, which will create 300 jobs at Rotherham and its sister plant in Stocksbridge, Sheffield, as well as hundreds more across the country.
After the furnace was fired up, Charles unveiled a plaque to commemorate the recommissioning and met young people thinking of entering the steel sector as skilled workers.
He said: “It’s been a wonderful moment as far as I’m concerned to fire up the furnace this afternoon – even though it has probably deafened me for life.
“I know just how many people depended on it, do depend on it and also how many skills there are potentially that do exist in this area.
“Bringing it back to life is providing a great service.”
Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of the GFG Alliance, which owns the Liberty House Group, said: “Switching this furnace back on today, after it had lain idle for more than two years, is a pivotal moment in the revival of UK steelmaking.
“The occasion makes a very powerful statement that steel does have a future in Britain and that is very good news for the whole of our manufacturing and engineering sector.”
Asked about Charles’s involvement, Mr Gupta said: “It’s the ultimate endorsement, he believes this industry has a future.
“His endorsement gives a great deal of encouragement to us.”