South Australian steel industry and Whyalla Steelworks
South Australia is leading the future of steelmaking in Australia by working with GFG Alliance, owner of the Whyalla Steelworks, to create a globally competitive and sustainable industry. UK-based GFG Alliance acquired Arrium (then owner of the Whyalla Steelworks) from administration in 2017.
In May 2021 GFG Alliance announced a plan to become carbon neutral by 2030 (CN30) and systematically transform the Whyalla Steelworks into a carbon neutral and competitive steel business. Part of GFG Alliance's vision is to establish a modern GreenSteel manufacturing facility in Whyalla to capture the growing demand for environmentally sustainable steel.
GFG Alliance has spent several years stabilising the business, investing over $200 million to improve productivity and plans to implement a range of projects to continue improving its performance. GFG Alliance is invested in doubling up the Port of Whyalla's capabilities with the Port being made available to customers. It provides import and export pathways to international markets, providing new growth opportunities for businesses within the Upper Spencer Gulf region.
The South Australian government has also extended the environmental authorisation provided to operate the Whyalla Steelworks to 2025. This will provide the regulatory certainty required to invest in the future of the South Australian operations.
The Whyalla Steelworks directly and indirectly employs around 3,500 South Australians and supports local businesses. Keeping the Whyalla Steelworks operational, keeps the Whyalla Community and Upper Spencer Gulf region thriving.
Steel Task Force
In 2015 the Steel Task Force was established to support Whyalla's mining, smelting and manufacturing operations following the Steelworks entering into Administration. The Steel Task Force is led by South Australian corporate director Bruce Carter, who was part of a team that secured Port Pirie’s future through an agreement with Nyrstar.
The South Australian government made a commitment to provide $50 million to support co-investment in capital infrastructure to secure the sustainable future of the Whyalla Steelworks. In February 2022 the South Australian government announced it had approved the Whyalla Steelworks Operational Efficiency Improvements Fund Guidelines to co-finance operational efficiency projects at the Whyalla Integrated Steelworks.
GFG Alliance and the Steel Task Force have worked closely on proposed investment projects and upgrades to the existing plant for which the South Australian government grant will apply. These upgrades are in addition to the significant investment GFG Alliance has already made in plant and equipment to improve the efficiency of the Whyalla Steelworks and mining operations.
The Office of the Industry Advocate has also worked with the Steel Task Force and industry to design initiatives that ensure local steelmakers and fabricators can compete fairly for South Australian government contracts. As a result of this work, all South Australian government projects are required to use steel which meets Australian Standards and certification, giving the local steel industry a competitive advantage against lower quality imports.
To facilitate the transformation of the Whyalla business, the Steel Task Force regularly liaises with the Commonwealth Government to discuss the best options to keep moving forward.