Global Maintenance has declared its 2017 Upper Spencer Gulf conference in Whyalla a record-breaking event.
The GMUSG Conference and Trade Expo was held at the Middleback Arts Centre over two days last week.
Jointly organised by the City of Whyalla, it was 13th event and clearly the best as far as organisation and outcomes according to Global Maintenance manager Mark Malcolm.
The event attracted a record 440 industry representatives along with guest speakers including South Australian treasurer Tom Koutsantonis and Federal Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg.
This attendance was a significant increase on last year, backed up by 100 per cent occupancy rates for the city’s accommodation providers.
Mr Malcolm said it wasn’t only the “best so far” and a direct shot in the arm for the Whyalla economy, there were four key announcements and discussion points that will have far reaching benefits for Whyalla and the region.
Mr Malcolm said there were a number of major wins announced at the conference including:
- The BHP announcement of $600m Investment at its Olympic Dam mine and associated commitment to support small local businesses with its local buying program,
- The Oz Minerals’ go-ahead with the Carrapateena Copper Gold Mine north of Port Augusta
- The State Government’s declaration of Upper Spencer Gulf as an economic participation region
“This year’s conference highlighted a distinct shift towards local procurement from our major resource companies. This is a game-changer for Upper Spencer Gulf suppliers," Mr Malcolm said.
“This is going to be a huge head start for our members.
“The ball is now in our court, local suppliers will need to demonstrate capability and competitiveness, but the opportunities are there.”
BHP’s Manager Supply for Olympic Dam, Isaac Hinton announced the local buying program which provides opportunities for businesses with less than 20 full time staff and based in the Upper Spencer Gulf Roxby Downs to supply goods and services to Olympic Dam for packages under $2m.
The state government’s economic participation scheme, announced by the SA treasurer, states that all new SA government capital work and maintenance contracts to be carried out in the region will require the state government to consider local suppliers wherever possible.
The Carrapateena mine is a $916m investment by Oz Minerals that holds the promise of hundreds of jobs and more contracts for local suppliers.
Mr Malcolm said these unexpected announcements, were a vote of confidence in the Upper Spencer Gulf and its place on the industry landscape.
Global Maintenance USG is an industry association made up of contractors and suppliers operating in the resources, energy and infrastructure sectors.
The annual GMUSG Conference and Trade Expo is a flagship event for it and this year it exceeded expectations.
Whyalla Mayor Lyn Breuer was one of the speakers at the conference.
She outlined the confidence Whyalla was now building on following the sale of Arrium and its Whyalla steelworks to Liberty House, which is part of the London-based GFC Alliance.
Liberty House has already announced plans to invest $1 billion in the Whyalla business with far grander plans in the sights of company owner Sanjeev Gupta.
"My belief is that Mr Gupta will work with our council and our community, to ensure Whyalla will be a place where people will want to live and raise families," Ms Breuer said.
"I believe that with all the good news that has come out of this conference, that we have great opportunities ahead of us to diversify our economy.
"We need to think big, build on our industrial heritage, and look at new possibilities for our city. “
High praise for council
GMUSG organiser Mark Malcolm was glowing in his praise of the City of Whyalla for its assistance at last week’s conference.
The sell-out crowd of 435 participants was well up on last year’s conference and bettered the previous record achieved in Whyalla 2014.
“We get great support from the City of Whyalla,” Mr Malcolm said.
“The city as a whole is great to deal with and I have no hesitation in saying this conference was the best one yet in regards to organisation and content.
“Everyone was happy and it ran like clockwork.”
Mr Malcolm thanked Mayor Lyn Breuer and council CEO Chris Cowley and reserved special praise for council events organiser Rebecca Neilson and Middleback Arts Centre manager Ryan Sutherland.
“Rebecca and Ryan are just gems,” Mr Malcolm said.
“Attention to detail is all important when hosting major industry events like this one. GMUSG could not have delivered such a quality experience for attendees without the assistance provided by Rebecca and Ryan and their teams.”
“This is something Whyalla can be very proud of and hopefully this event has contributed to the growing level of confidence in your city.”
Next year’s conference will be held in Port Augusta.