Workers at Tata Steel’s limestone quarry and lime kiln operation in Cumbria face an anxious wait after the company revealed plans to cut as many as 3,000 jobs across its European business.

Tata Steel said the plans were in response to what it described as a “severe” international steel market but insisted there would be no plant closures.

And while it said around two-thirds of the job cuts will be office-based, the revelation has caused yet more unease throughout Tata Steel’s sites across the UK.

Around 35 people work at its distinctive limestone quarry and lime kiln operations at Shap, close to junction 39 of the M6.

The site is part of Tata Steel’s strip products arm and supplies products to the giant’s operations at Port Talbot, in Wales, Ijmuiden, in the Netherlands and Duisburg, in Germany.

The announcement was described as a “devastating blow to the workforce” by Stephen Kinnock, Labour parliamentary candidate for Aberavon, and Welsh assembly member for the same area – in which the Port Talbot plant is based – David Rees.

Ina joint statement, they said: “They (Tata Steel Europe) provide absolutely no information about where the focus of those job losses will be. Will they be in the Netherlands or the UK?”

It remains unclear if any job losses at Port Talbot, or any of the European plants supplied by the Shap site will have a whiplash effect in Cumbria.

If it does, it will represent a significant reversal in fortunes for a plant that was set to benefit from the abandoned joint venture between Tata Steel and German multinational thyssenkrupp AG.

in-Cumbria understood that the joint venture had the potential to bring in more customers for the site.

But the two parties – respectively the third and second biggest producers of flat carbon steel in the European Economic Area – ditched the 50-50 venture in May this year when it became apparent the European Commission would block the deal due to the potential impact on competition.

Tata Steel’s top brass lamented the collapse, saying it had been critical to creating “a more sustainable business”, and warned that it would be looking at “more options” to secure its long-term future.

It has now put forward plans for the job cuts, along with a proposed new way of working to boost productivity and reduce bureaucracy as well as a focus on increasing sales of higher-value steel products.

Henrik Adam, chief executive of Tata Steel in Europe, said: “We are highlighting important proposals towards building a financially strong and sustainable European business.

“We plan to change how we work together to enable better co-operation and faster decision-making. This will help us become self-sustaining and cash-positive in the face of unprecedented severe market conditions, enabling us to lead the way towards a carbon-neutral future.”