Department of State Development

25 Nov 2015 Resources

High-powered Steel Taskforce to secure Whyalla’s future

South Australia will lead the charge to secure steelmaking’s future in Australia with a new Steel Taskforce to work with Arrium and local fabricators to create a highly competitive and sustainable industry.

In Whyalla today, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis announced that the Steel Taskforce team will coordinate action across government to give Arrium’s mining, smelting and manufacturing operations in and around Whyalla every chance to thrive.

Mr Koutsantonis also announced that all future State Government projects will be required to use steel which meets Australian Standards and certification, giving the local steel industry a competitive advantage against lower quality imports.

The Steel Taskforce’s $4.3 million funding over four years includes $320,000 to establish a third party audit, in collaboration with the Australian Steel Institute, to ensure State Government projects adhere to the new mandate.

The funding will also assist the South Australian steel fabrication sector to become compliant with Steelwork Compliance Australia requirements.

Mr Koutsantonis said the steel industry is under enormous pressure from a global oversupply of steel, which is leading to a combination of unfair competition from abroad and a rapid downturn in prices.

“The steel industry is at risk because of the import of cheaper products from countries with lower quality standards and labour costs,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

“This State Government will not stand back and allow uncompetitive pressures to crush a strategic industry that has provided decades of jobs and prosperity for South Australians.

“The high-powered Taskforce led by Bruce Carter, who was part of a team that secured Port Pirie’s future through an agreement with Nyrstar, will work with Arrium and the steel industry during these challenging economic times.

“Mr Carter and the Taskforce will partner with the Office of the Industry Advocate to design initiatives that ensure steelmakers and fabricators can compete fairly for local contracts.”

Mr Koutsantonis said the quality of steel fabrication undertaken by South Australian companies, including the use of high quality Australian steel, can be used to provide a competitive advantage for local companies tendering for work with the State Government.

“We have listened to the industry and our hope is that state and federal governments follow South Australia’s lead and implement a similar mandate on the use of Australian standard steel,” he said.

Mr Koutsantonis said this State Government continues to stand by Arrium and the Whyalla community to ensure that steelmaking remains a major contributor to jobs and economic prosperity in South Australia.

As a demonstration of that support, the State Government has already:

  • Extended for a further 10 years, the environmental authorisation provided to Arrium to operate its Whyalla Steelworks, to provide Arrium and its shareholders the regulatory certainty required to invest in the company’s future.
  • Waived royalties on magnetite used to feed Arrium’s Whyalla Steelworks.
  • Signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Arrium to work together toward creating a major multi-user port at Whyalla and generating new investment opportunities in the Upper Spencer Gulf.

“This State Government firmly believes there is a future for Australia’s steelmaking industry as long as we provide unwavering support during these difficult economic conditions,” Mr Koutsantonis said.