Whyalla has a bright future in steelmaking and mining according to the chairman of Arrium Limited Peter Smedley.
Mr Smedley recently visited the city to view the company’s current developments, meet staff and attend a lunch hosted by the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
In his address to attendees from the local business community, Mr Smedley expressed positivity about the current state and future of OneSteel and Arrium Mining in Whyalla.
“We are not investing $600 million at the moment if we think we don’t have a future in Whyalla,” he said.
He praised the work currently underway at developments such as the port expansion and the support from local contractors and suppliers.
“We believe the blend of having outside contractors, local suppliers or near local suppliers has been a strength for us in getting through projects on time and on budget,” Mr Smedley said.
Mr Smedley highlighted the company’s past dedication to supporting local businesses and its intentions to continue down the same path.
“Of the $400 million that we spent on the base of magnet...80 per cent of that was spent locally,” he said.
“If I look at the $90 million we spent on the ore blending operation at Barron, 90 per cent was local.
“And if I look at the $200 million we spent on the port, so we do try and practice what we preach...when we build we try and use local suppliers.”
In a question and answer segment, Whyalla Mayor Jim Pollock asked Mr Smedley what he viewed as the company’s biggest threat and challenge for the future.
Mr Smedley said OneSteel and Arrium’s challenges related to pricing and the international environment.
“We can’t control that and therefore we are focused on litigating the impact of those by looking how we can run this business through different scenarios,” he said.
In relation to the carbon tax, Mr Smedley said while ‘it’s not going to be easy to be the only carbon taxed country,’ the company was pleased and grateful for the transition phase, which allows a smoother introduction of the tax.
Mr Smedley remained positive about the future of the company under the carbon tax.
“I believe it will be a hard road, but we will tackle it,” he said.
Whyalla Mayor Jim Pollock said it was a pleasure to have the chairman in Whyalla and felt Mr Smedley’s visit had a beneficial impact on the city.
“The information that Peter gave to the people that were here today puts great confidence back into the city,” Mr Pollock said.
“We have a real strong future with Arrium in Whyalla and it was a very positive day.”
Similarly Whyalla City Council chief executive officer Peter Peppin said he felt positive about the issues discussed.
“Outstanding speaker, a true reflection of his many, many years in business and he presented a very positive but measured view of the future of the company and its impacts on Whyalla,” Mr Peppin said.