With thunderous roars and flashes of blue light, an electric arc furnace at a steel mill in this industrial city melts 170 tons of scrap metal at a time, which is made into reinforcing bars for construction projects across Britain. The furnace, decked out with all the latest gear, helps keep costs down by relying on local scrap instead of imported materials.

It was part of a broad $500 million investment plan to make the steel mill competitive and profitable. But China has stymied the strategy. The steel mill, owned by the privately held Celsa Group of Spain, just cannot compete with Chinese rivals, which offered products at 20 percent below prevailing rates in Britain.

Celsa estimates that Chinese companies at one point accounted for about half of the region’s sales in a certain type of reinforcing bar, up from essentially nothing just four years ago. READ MORE