The South Australian Government has set up a new Steel Taskforce that will work with Arrium and local fabricators to create a “highly competitive and sustainable industry” and secure steelmaking’s future in the country.
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the Taskforce led by Bruce Carter will “coordinate action across government” to support Arrium’s mining, smelting and manufacturing operations in and around Whyalla.
Additionally, the Minister announced that all future State Government projects will be required to use steel which meets Australian Standards and certification, providing the local steel industry with a competitive advantage against lower quality imports.
The announcement comes just two days after the Welding Technology Institute of Australia (WTIA) urged the Federal Government to introduce procurement policies that support greater use of Australian-made steel.
“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 Minister said in a statement.
“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 was under severe pressure from a global oversupply of steel, which is leading to a combination of “unfair competition” from abroad and a sharp decline in prices.
“The steel industry is at risk because of the import of cheaper products from countries with lower quality standards and labour costs. 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,” Mr Koutsantonis said.
“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.”
He said the State Government’s support for Arrium and the Whyalla community was best demonstrated through the extended environmental authorisation that Arrium received to operate its Whyalla Steelworks.
The Minister also reminded that the State Government waived royalties on magnetite used to feed Arrium’s Whyalla Steelworks.
The State Government also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the company 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.