STEEL GIANT Tata Steel has stopped more blast furnace operations in Port Talbot as the company continues with its 'restructuring programme', closing down Blast Furnace 5.

Tata Steel announced that it has ceased operations at Blast Furnace 5 in Port Talbot on Thursday, July 4, and it will now be "safely decommissioned".

UK CEO of Tata Steel, Rajesh Nair, said: “All those who have been involved in operating and maintaining Blast Furnace 5 since it started operations in 1959 should take a great deal of pride in the part they have played in underpinning the UK manufacturing industry for so many years.

“Our challenge is now to focus on a more sustainable and competitive future for our business that will ensure the continuation of steelmaking in the UK for generations to come.”

The last iron from Blast Furnace 5 in Port Talbot is tapped into torpedo 20The last iron from Blast Furnace 5 in Port Talbot is tapped into torpedo 20 (Image: Headland Consultancy)

The company said they will "make every effort" to reduce the impact of this "transformation" on the employees which have been affected, and the local community.

A spokesperson for Tata Steel, added: "This includes the most favourable financial package of support it has ever offered, and facilities for training and upskilling activities alongside finance for small and medium-sized businesses through the UK Steel Enterprise regeneration and job creation scheme."

Community’s national officer for steel, Alun Davies said: “It is a sad day for our union and our industry, but most of all for Community members at Port Talbot.

"For decades BF5 has delivered the best iron going, supporting thousands of good jobs and families and businesses, from across the community and beyond.

“Today marks the end of an era, and it is important now to look forward.

"Looking after our members is Community’s top priority, and people need to know the options available to them and the timescales involved.

Molten iron from Blast Furnace 5 Molten iron from Blast Furnace 5 (Image: Headland Consultancy)

"Furthermore, to safeguard jobs it is vital the future of Port Talbot steelmaking is secured, and that new investments are made so we can build again for the future.

“Community will welcome resuming discussions on a potential MOU, which have already delivered significant commitments from the company on future investments.

"Moreover, we look forward to working with our colleagues in Unite and GMB to conclude those discussions, at which point the package will be put to a ballot of our members.

“Crucially, going forward we will be working with a Labour Government, which has already committed £3bn to supporting investment in the steel industry.

"We look forward to working with Labour to deliver the best possible future for our members at Port Talbot and across the steel industry.

“Today we say farewell to Number 5, but at the same time we reaffirm our resolve to never stop fighting for our members, our communities, and our industry.”

Alan Coombs, branch secretary Port Talbot Blast Furnace 01 branch, and chair of the Port Talbot multi-union committee, said: “As a blast furnaceman and third generation Port Talbot steelworker it’s devastating to see that furnace die, and with no certainty on what’s coming next.

"What the workforce urgently needs to see is serious new investments in our plant and in our people.

"We call on Tata and the incoming Labour Government to live up to the commitments they have made and act to secure the future of our industry and our communities.”