THE PRINCE of Wales gave Rotherham steel his seal of royal approval when he relit a furnace which had been mothballed for more than two years.
Prince Charles, who also chatted to trainee steelworkers, switched on the scrap-melter at Liberty Steel’s Dalton plant, which had been out of action since 2015.
He was joined in the control room by Sanjeev Gupta, chairman of plant-owners Liberty House Group.
The furnace will recycle 800,000 tonnes of scrap steel every year, providing raw materials for cars and aircraft parts.
It is expected to double production at the Rotherham plant, to over 400,000 tonnes a year.
Its re-ignition is part of a £20 million pound UK investment by Liberty, which will create 300 jobs at its Rotherham and Stocksbridge plants.
The switch-on comes after five months of work by 35 engineers, repairing and upgrading the equipment.
Liberty hopes that its Greensteel project will kick-start a cleaner and more competitive steel industry in Britain.
Prince Charles also unveiled a plaque at the firm’s nearby Aldwarke General Office, which was recently refurbished to serve as the national headquarters of Liberty Steel UK.
He spoke to industrial cadets from Rotherham College, who are working with Liberty Speciality Steels on projects like maintaining railways which transport the metal.
The prince helped kickstart the nationwide Industrial Cadet Programme seven years ago, following a visit to Teesside steelworks.
Mr Gupta 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.
“We are very pleased His Royal Highness is able to share this hugely symbolic milestone with us.
“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.”
Prince Charles had earlier visited Dearne Community Fire Station in Manvers, where his trust is partnering with South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue to deliver its team programme to young people.