Port Talbot

Port Talbot integrated iron and steel works is situated next to Margam Moors, with Port Talbot Docks bordering the site to the north with the town of Port Talbot, motorway, the main line railway and the PDR forming the eastern boundary.

To the southwest of the site is Swansea Bay and Margam Sands. Liquid steel production from two steel converters at full capacity is approximately 5 million tonnes per annum.

The integrated steel works has several identifiable processes which are carried out sequentially across the installation in order to convert the raw iron ores and coal to semi-finished (slab) and finished steel products.

Detailed Site Description

Greenhouse gas emissions

Resource use and waste management

Water use

Transport impacts

Employment and skills

Local communities

Performance data

Detailed Site Description

Raw materials

Bulk raw materials arrive by large bulk carrier at the deep water port at the site. The raw materials are stocked out in discrete stockpiles in the stocking areas. Ferrous raw materials including lump ore and pellets along with non-ferrous inputs such as lump fluxes and purchased coke are fed directly to the blast furnaces and/or the BOS plant. Finer ferrous materials along with fluxes, solid fuel fines and various re-usable by-products from throughout the steel production processes are stored in the ore stockyards before being blended together into a sinter feed bed.

Sinter production

Blended sinter bed material contains fluxes, coke breeze and limestone. It is fed onto a travelling grate known as a “strand” at the Sinter Plant where it is ignited. Air is drawn through the bed of material raising the temperature to ~1300oC.The flame front fuses the fine material into an iron-rich clinker known as "sinter". This sinter is cooled and screened prior to being transferred to the blast furnace stock house. The products of combustion from sintering are extensively cleaned using an electrostatic precipitator before being discharged to the air.

Coke making

Coal is also carefully blended to form a coal mix which is then taken by conveyor belt to the Coke Ovens. Here the coal is charged to airtight ovens and is heated at a temperature of between 1200 -1300°C for a period of around 18 hours to produce coke. At the end of the coking cycle, the red hot coke is pushed out of the oven into a rail car, which is transported to a quenching tower where it is quenched by water. The releases from the pushing operation are collected by a fume collection system and are cleaned before being released. After quenching the coke is transferred to the blast furnace for use within the iron production process.

The gas driven off the coal during the coking cycle is cooled, cleaned and useful by-products removed either for re-use or sale. Clean gas is recycled within the site as fuel for heat or electricity production. Excess gas may be burned off at the Coke Ovens flare stack.

The effluent from the by-products plant is fully cleaned, before being discharged along with cooling water from the process

Granulated coal injection plant

In addition to coke making, some coal is crushed and dried at a specialised facility, before being injected directly into the blast furnace.

Iron production – Blast furnaces

At the Blast Furnace stock house coke, iron ore, pellets and sinter, along with fluxes, are carefully weighed and batched to be charged to the Blast Furnace. The Blast Furnace operates on a continuous basis. Air produced at a high pressure in the Power Station is passed through the furnace stoves where it is heated to temperatures in the range of 1000 - 1200°C. This high pressure, hot air (or blast) is then injected together with pulverised granulated coal into the furnace and flows upwards to the top of the furnace. The air reacts with carbon bearing materials at the tuyeres to form carbon monoxide, reducing the iron ore to iron as it travels up the furnace. Further reduction of the iron ore is undertaken directly by the coke in the upper areas of the furnace.

Non-iron bearing materials in the furnace form a slag which is molten at the high temperatures inside. The molten iron and molten slag produced in the furnace both fall to the hearth where they are periodically "tapped" through a taphole.

The blast furnace gas leaves the furnace top and is cooled and cleaned in the gas cleaning system. Cleaned gas is then used as a fuel for other steelmaking processes. Excess gas can either be burnt or vented through several flare stacks or vents. The iron and slag flowing from the taphole are separated in the iron runner with the slag being skimmed off the top of the iron into the slag runner to be further processed in the slag pit or granulator, as necessary. The iron flows underneath a skimmer arrangement to ensure slag free iron can then pass into mobile torpedo ladles to allow transportation by rail to the steel plant.

Steel production – Basic Oxygen Steelmaking (BOS) and Secondary steelmaking

The liquid iron from the Blast Furnaces is transported by rail to the BOS plant in refractory lined torpedoes with a capacity of up to 350 tonnes. On arrival at the BOS plant the molten iron in the torpedo is poured into a charging ladle. Then the iron is de-sulphurised, as necessary, prior to transfer to the steelmaking vessel.

Iron is then charged from the ladle to one of two BOS vessels where scrap and fluxes are added. The process of converting iron to steel is termed a “heat”. Iron charging fume and secondary fume from the BOS heat is extracted through bag filtration plant prior to discharge. Oxygen is blown into the converter at supersonic velocity controlled by a complex software system. Following the BOS primary steelmaking process the steel can go through a number of secondary steelmaking processes to meet customer requirements before being converted into a solid form.

Primary fume from the BOS process is cleaned in a gas cleaning plant and collected for use as a fuel elsewhere in the works. Excess and below specification gas is flared off via one of two flare stacks. Other secondary fume from all BOS processes is extracted through a filtration plant prior to discharge.

Continuous casting

Following final treatment, the steel is transported to the continuous casting plant (Concast) to form solidified steel slabs. At Concast the steel is vertically teemed (through shrouds) into tundishes and then into reciprocating cooled copper moulds via submerged entry shrouds. The steel is then drawn from the mould in a semi-finished partially solid slab and cooled whilst it is drawn down through the continuous casting machine to the horizontal plane and cut to length.

Slab rolling and treatment

Slabs can be sold or then hot or cold connected to the Hot Rolling Mill on the Port Talbot site. At the Port Talbot Hot Mill, hot or cold slabs are heated in reheat furnaces to around 1250°C.The hot slabs are reduced in gauge via the reversing roughing mills and the finishing train and coiled into Hot Rolled Coil (HRC). Hot Rolled Coil can then be sold, or be pickled and transferred to the Cold Mill for further reduction and annealing. Cold rolled steel is brittle and requires further annealing to recover the mechanical properties of the metal. Annealing is carried out either in a continuous annealing plant or Ebner Furnaces and the finished coils are then packaged and transported to customers. Hot rolled and cold rolled coils are transported to customer by rail or road.

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Greenhouse gas emissions

Key focus areas for reduction in CO2 relate to the efficient use of process gases and electricity.

Process Gases

The major energy input into the Port Talbot site is in the form of coal which accounts for the majority of all delivered energy. This coal is converted to coke in the coke oven plant and the arising by-product gas (Coke Oven Gas) is distributed throughout the site for use as a fuel. Additional coke is imported. The coke is charged into the blast furnace where it acts as a reductant to produce iron. As a consequence of the ironmaking process vast quantities of low calorific value gas (Blast Furnace Gas) are produced. This gas is fired on the blast furnace stoves, the Power Station (boilers) and the Coke Ovens. BOS gas is collected from the steelmaking process and used mainly in the Power Station boilers. The above integration of energy producers and consumers enables the maximum use of the site’s own, or indigenous, gases (coke oven gas, blast furnace gas and BOS gas) and minimises the use of purchased premium fuels such as natural gas and heavy fuel oil.

Electricity

  • A focus on operational energy reduction initiatives such as installation of variable speed drives on some equipment.
  • Upgrading to energy efficient lighting.
  • Port Talbot is covered by a new energy efficiency governance process established within Tata Steel Europe, whereby its energy performance has been compared to a benchmark as part of a gap analysis exercise.
  • The site has generated a range of schemes aimed at bridging the gap with best practice. Internal targets for improvement have been established and Tata Steel Europe’s Chief Technical Officer and his direct reports review the progress of each site towards these on a quarterly basis.

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Resource use and waste management

Non-hazardous waste from the installation may be disposed of at the Morfa non-hazardous internal landfill site. Tata Steel has permits for separate hazardous & non-hazardous waste disposal. The primary recycling streams, by products and wastes are identified and quantified in the landfill permits, with a very high degree of material efficiency being achieved, and minimal residual material landfilled.

The Tata Steel Installation also operates a permitted materials recycling and recovery facility which is used for the processing of site generated wastes to aggregates. It also operates a treatment facility on-site where various iron-rich raw materials, by-products are blended and pelletised. The finished pellets are then recycled as a feedstock at the sinter plant and blast furnaces.

In line with our objective to reduce / eliminate wastes to landfill, we have enacted a number of waste reduction strategies at our plant in Port Talbot, including:

  • Various iron-rich by-products recycled as a feedstock at the sinter plant and blast furnaces;
  • Processing of site generated wastes to aggregates;
  • Processing of site generated scrap at the Basic Oxygen Steelmaking to reduce use virgin materials;
  • Improved waste segregation for general waste and wood across the site and at the on-site waste transfer station;
  • Improved re-use of wooden pallets to ensure zero pallets to landfill. Where it is not possible to recycle pallets because they are damaged, broken pallets are sent for incineration to provide an energy source;
  • Coil packaging materials have been significantly changed so they can be recycled and the amounts used reduced. On site packaging is no longer disposable and has been changed to reusable magnetic bindings. Coil protectors are reused on site and only disposed of once they are beyond repair;
  • We are continually investing in the UK's steel collection and recycling infrastructure, enhancing our own recycling capabilities at plants in Port Talbot
  • We provide education in schools about steel recycling and we provide technical literature for customers about the life cycle impacts of our products and the steps that can be taken to minimise these impacts throughout the life of the applications in which they are used.

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Water use

The water used by the works comes from a number of sources; the river Afan supplies water to the Old Dock in Port Talbot and this in turn is used as cooling and process water for the western part of the site along with abstraction from the Ffrwdwyllt stream.

The Castell and the Kenfig rivers are used to supply Eglwys Nunydd reservoir with water. The Arnallt river enters the northern part of the site where, it is pumped across the site to be discharged on to the beach at Margam.

Port Talbot has enacted a number of improvements to optimise its water consumption and have an objective to reduce the amount of process water being used, to reduce the impact that our water emissions have on the environment, as we discharge into ecologically sensitive areas, for example:

  • Local treatment of incoming waters.
  • Processing contaminated waters through our effluent treatment plant.
  • Directing non-effluent process waters, away from wastewater treatment, and discharged into the site lagoons.
  • Identifying opportunities for water reuse through the installation of chillers and cooling towers.
  • Implementing process improvements to reduce the use of water, use of closed loop cycles, use of no-rinse technologies.

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Transport impacts

Transport impacts are managed centrally within Tata Steel and, as such, it is not possible to disaggregate the transport impacts associated with the production and delivery of specific products from specific locations from the total estimate of Tata Steel transport impacts.

As shipping and logistics activities are managed centrally within Tata Steel it is not possible to disaggregate the CO2 emissions associated with the production and delivery of specific products from specific locations from the total estimate of Tata Steel transport impacts. See the general page for information on Tata Steel’s transport impacts and some of the steps we are taking to reduce these.

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Employment and skills

We apply a common approach to employment and skills at all, of its sites. See the general page for information on what Tata Steel is doing to advance the learning and development of its employees.

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Local communities

As a responsible employer, Tata Steel strives to have a positive impact on the communities in which it operates.

Tata Steel strives to enrich its local communities and contribute to their future economic and social wellbeing through a proactive Community Partnership Programme. The main focus of the Community Partnership Programme is to work closely with the communities in which we operate to help improve these areas. The theme of Tata Steel’s Community Partnership Programme is “Future Generations.” All Community Partnership Programme activities support “Future Generations” and are also aligned to the sub themes of:

  • Education
  • Environment
  • Health & Wellbeing

In Port Talbot, most of the people who work for us—and many who do not—live nearby, raise their children here and pursue their lives in the communities surrounding our works. We are an integral part of those communities and are intimately involved in supporting them.

As a major employer, our performance strongly influences the prosperity of the region. Our involvement is not just economic, though. We also concentrate on social development, education, health, safety and the environment.

Many of our employees are recruited locally and because we also want the best young people to join us, we help schools near our sites to educate and motivate those young people.

In addition, we meet with local councils and the Welsh Assembly Government regularly to exchange views about what is going on, because this business is committed to harmonising commercial success with the well-being of our employees and the community.

As well as working in partnership with the Port Talbot community, Tata Steel also provides proactive investment in local community initiatives. These donations provide sustainable investment in initiatives that bring benefits to “Future Generations” in the communities in which Tata Steel operates. Donations are made to charitable and non-profit organisations within the communities in which Tata Steel operates, with a particular focus on the Port Talbot area.

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Performance data

Port Talbot   2015 2016 2017
CO2 emission (t) Direct scope 7,549,560 6,721,696 6,726,866
Worldsteel scope 8,530,793 7,414,915 7,361,790
Water use (m³) n/a 20,061,880 18,046,774
Waste disposed (t) (% of waste produced) n/a n/a 11,221 8% 18,390 10%
Waste recovered (t) (% of waste produced) n/a n/a 125,350 92% 132,765 90%
Justified complaints (n) n/a 261 291


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