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Chinese-Owned British Steel Plans Closures which May Cut 260 Jobs

LONDON, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Chinese-owned British Steel on Wednesday said it could cut up to 260 jobs after announcing the planned closure of its coke ovens in northern England, saying steelmaking in Britain was uncompetitive despite efforts to reduce costs.

British Steel boss Xifeng Han said the company, which is owned by China's Jingye Group, was "undergoing the biggest transformation in our 130-year history."

"We have taken action to reduce costs within our control; however, steelmaking in the UK remains uncompetitive when compared to other international steelmakers," he added.

He also said decarbonisation was a major challenge for its business as the company set out proposals to close the coke ovens at its Scunthorpe site. The ovens heat coal at high temperatures to create coke, a fuel used in steel-making.

Jingye, which bought the company out of insolvency in 2020 with a promise of 1.2 billion pounds ($1.45 billion) in spending, has invested 330 million pounds in capital projects so far, British Steel said in the statement.

UK-based workers' union Unite blamed the job losses on Jingye and "its failure to make good on its commitment to make major investments in the plant."

"Unite will pursue every avenue, including industrial action, to defend members’ jobs at British Steel," the union said in a statement.

($1 = 0.8277 pounds)

Reporting by Muvija M; editing by William James

Source: Reuters

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