Sheffield Forgemasters invests in heavy presses

03 March 2008

[The Times, 3 March] Sheffield Forgemasters International (SFI) of the UK is considering building a 15,000-tonne press to satisfy the demand for parts arising from a global renaissance in nuclear power. The company has placed an order for a 4000-tonne press and is expected to decide within the next two months whether to order a 15,000-tonne press. SFI is reportedly in talks with potential backers about funding the £70 million ($140 million) investment. Peter Birtles, a director of SFI, said: "The number of presses in the world that are big enough to supply the nuclear industry is tiny. The Board has agreed this investment in principle - we just have to find the optimum way of funding it." SFI has already won a contract to supply one primary coolant pump per month for the next ten years to a US engineering company, which is a leading supplier to Westinghouse. The first such coolant pumps to be produced by SFI are destined for nuclear power plants in China. In addition, subject to India signing a nuclear technology transfer agreement with the USA, SFI could sign a deal with an Indian partner to develop a press there to produce parts for nuclear power plants in that country. Graham Honeyman, SFI's CEO, said: "We have a massive power deficit building in this country and the only way to adequately address the problem is through nuclear power. It is very important that the option to manufacture for these power plants in within the UK. There is a huge global demand for nuclear power components and fewer than ten companies capable of such manufacture."

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