The man given the task of saving Arrium recently sat down with the Whyalla News to chat about the long journey which he finds ahead of him.
For Liberty House chairman Sanjeev Gupta, fixing Arrium’s power situation is step one on a long journey to salvation for the Whyalla Steelworks.
“Fixing the current power requirements of the steelworks is a very high priority. That can be done fairly easily given the gas produced by the coke ovens and blast furnace, plus the gas available from the grid would give us enough capacity to be self-sufficient.
“We will undertake that very quickly, that is very important because right now there are risks given the power situation in South Australia.”
Mr Gupta said he had always been fascinated by Australia’s steel industry.
“It’s always been something of interest so we have always kept track of things there. We have been engaged in Australia with several mining processes,” he said.
“During that time this came up as an opportunity,” he said.
Mr Gupta said Liberty House would continue to uphold its policy of no hard redundancies at industrial plants.
“To go into a steel operation and displace jobs is a very distressing proposition. It is sometimes necessary but it’s not something we normally undertake,” he said.
“As a counter to that, we recently set up a families charity foundation. The focus of the foundation is that if there is an excess of skills we usually use that as a way to re-train people and redeploy them within the group.”
Mr Gupta said Liberty House’s engagement with the state and federal governments was ongoing.
“Most of our asks are actually around supporting our capital works program to turn around and expand the business, but not in terms of any loans or grants,” he said.
“We are very positive that we will get what the business needs.”
With plans to expand the business in the short to medium term, more jobs will likely be generated.
“An even more profound impact will come from the possibility of adding new capacity; adding a new steel plant, adding new power generation,” Mr Gupta said.
“That’s where the real big numbers will come from, even in the expansion and operation plan that we have there will be employment opportunities.”
The sale of Arrium to GFG Alliance was approved by the Creditors Committee last Thursday, clearing the final major roadblock for Liberty House.