The refurbishment of a major lime-making kiln at Tata Steel’s Shapfell site will allow for the more efficient and sustainable supply of critical steelmaking material to the Port Talbot steelworks.

Tata Steel manufactures lime at its Cumbrian facility from UK-quarried limestone. Lime is used to improve the quality of steel as well as removing impurities during steelmaking.

The £4 million investment to reline Shapfell’s Kiln 4 took ten months to complete and allowed it to start producing again after being mothballed since 2016. Over a 12-year period, Kiln 4 will produce nearly 1.5 million tonnes of calcium-rich lime products.

The kiln is lit using new technology in conjunction with a company called Secatherm. The technology, including airflow monitoring, will allow Tata Steel to understand and control the combustion and energy efficiency of the kiln to save on overall energy use and costs.

John Baird, Shapfell’s Operations Manager, said: “This investment has led to a crucial upgrade for the site. This kiln had been mothballed for several years, but we had an opportunity to bring it back on stream to cover production as another kiln comes to the end of its normal lifespan, while also using new technology which means we’re being more sustainable and cost-effective.

“It’s great to see capital invested in the site to help us keep operations moving and continue supporting jobs and innovation here in Cumbria – it’s been a perfect opportunity to bring some of our talented team through to see a rare kiln refurbishment and share this knowledge for future relines.”