THE Prince of Wales has told steel workers in Port Talbot Wales they can be proud of what they have achieved.
Prince Charles visited Tata Steel's plant yesterday and unveiled a plaque marking the impending completion of a £185 million project to rebuild a blast furnace at the site.
The prince praised steel workers for their efforts and said: "I cannot congratulate you enough for such extraordinary levels of hard work and devotion, all things that go towards creating this remarkable furnace.
"I realise that it will become one of the most sophisticated blast furnace operations in Europe.
"From that point of view Wales can be unbelievably proud of what has been achieved here.
"The investment that has been put into this part of Wales will make an enormous difference to the whole area and the whole future."
The prince arrived at the site just before 10am on the royal train which included seven carriages and two locomotives.
He was greeted with a rendition of Emili Sande's Read All About It by the children of Eastern Primary in Taibach.
John Rogers, chairman of governors at Eastern Primary said: "This was a an early Christmas present for the children.
"It was a great privilege to be singing for them.
"They will always remember it."
The tour also took in a video display of Super Bainite, a high value super strength steel being produced in conjuction with the Ministry of Defence at Port Talbot which will provide protection for armoured vehicles.
The visit came as steel workers in Port Talbot and Llanwern have been told to expect up to 500 job losses in the next 12 months.
A spokesman for Tata in Port Talbot said: "It will be a lengthy, responsible process.
"There will be a high level of voluntary redundancies and redeployment, we have a good track record in all of that.
"We just don't know what the order book will look like in the future.
"We have no plans to make any further job losses as things stand.
"The order book still looks very subdued.
"The business as a commercial operation is still very challenging."
Tata steel worker Sheree Jones was one of many staff who met the prince during his visit.
The engineering and support facilitator from Mynyddbach has worked on the Port Talbot site for five years and said: "It (the prince's visit) is good because it shows the profile and importance of the investment that has been made here which is important in the current climate."
Ian Hobson, Tata Steel's manufacturing director of the operational hub of Port Talbot and Llanwern steelworks, said: "The Royal visit pays credit to those who have been engaged in the Blast Furnace Number Four rebuild project and also all those who have maintained our production operations while this complex project has been proceeding."
Prince Charles left the site by car and went on to visit Swansea Market and the birth place of Dylan Thomas.
It is understood he will be spending the weekend in Wales.