Sheffield Forgemasters today pledged to continue efforts to secure funding for a 15,000-tonne forging press that would be used to make large nuclear components.
This announcement follows the decision last week by the coalition government to withdraw an £80m loan from the former Labour administration.
The loan, approved in March, would have brought the amount raised for the project to £140m, which would have seen Sheffield Forgemasters join only five other companies in the world capable of producing the largest components for nuclear reactors.
‘The company’s proposed business expansion plan to install a 15,000-tonne press still offers a real opportunity for the company to create new jobs in Sheffield and in the subsequent supply chain and to give a major boost to UK manufacturing industry on a global level,’ said Graham Honeyman, chief executive at Sheffield Forgemasters. ‘We have no intention of standing still and will continue to explore all avenues for business development.’
According to Sheffield Forgemasters, the demand for heavy nuclear forgings is set to more than triple by 2020, reaching 70,000 tonnes with worldwide capacity only able to supply 59,000 tonnes over the same timescale.
Speaking in March, Honeyman said: ‘The world’s capability to make large and ultra-large forgings for the nuclear industry is currently restricted to the equivalent of five to seven reactor supply systems a year.
‘However, the average nuclear construction rate between 2010 and 2030 is expected to be 13 new reactors a year.
‘In order to place Britain in a position to capitalise on this deficit, SFIL will push through its plans within the next three years to make major castings and forgings for the power generation industry.’
According to the Sheffield Labour Party, building the press would have created hundreds of jobs at Forgemasters and thousands of jobs in the manufacturing supply chain.