GEORGETOWN, SC (THE GEORGETOWN TIMES) – Steelworkers have returned to work at the Georgetown mill, the plant’s new owners announced Tuesday, according to News13 partner The Georgetown Times

Liberty House said in a press release that 20 workers started at the plant Tuesday as preparations continue toward a full restart of the plant, likely in late May. 

Another 20 workers will start at the plant on April 16, the British-based company said, and they will be handling repairs and maintenance.

 Prep work as been ongoing at the mill since early this year. In December, Liberty House acquired the mill from ArcelorMittal, who ceased operations at the plant in August 2015. 

The company said the workers are all former plant employees returning under a recall agreement with the United Steelworkers. And more than 300 people have applied for the initial 125 jobs to be filled. Liberty House said it expects up to 250 people to be employed at the plant as production ramps up over the coming months and year.

The mill will produce various grades of wire rod for the construction and automotive sectors, Liberty House said.

Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of Liberty House’s parent company, GFG Alliance said, “This is a landmark day for the mill and for the city of Georgetown. There is still a lot of work to do but it is very encouraging and satisfying to see skilled and experienced steelworkers walking back through the gates to take up their jobs again.

“The GFG Alliance has big ambitions to invest and help to revive the U.S. steel industry, and today is a hugely significant milestone in the process,” Gupta said. “We’re now eager to press ahead with all the preparatory activity and get production going again at this iconic site”

In the press release, Jacob Ward of Andrews, a returning employee at the plant, said, “Once Georgetown shut down, the chance of it reopening didn’t look good, until Liberty Steel came into the picture. We all prayed that they would reopen Georgetown and thankfully they have. It is a huge gain for the city and a blessing for former and new employees’ families.”  

After the restart, the company said it intends to spend the rest of 2018 ensuring wire-rod coils from its rolling mill are meeting customer specifications before expanding production to meet demand levels. 

News13 partner The Georgetown Times reported this story.