The federal government have confirmed that local manufacturer Ferretti International could play a part in supplying transmission towers made with Whyalla steel for the ElectraNet High Voltage Interconnector
The interconnector will connect the South Australian and New South Wales' electricity grids, however there's been no guarantee that Australian steel will be used in its construction from the Australian Energy Regulator.
On Thursday Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick asked the federal government what action had been taken to ensure Australian steel would be used in new high voltage transmission projects.
Representing Industry Minister Karen Andrews, Senator Michaelia Cash responded that Ferretti had been awarded a $600,000 grant in September to support a feasibility study into developing transmission towers in Whyalla using steel from the local steelworks.
"The outcome of the feasibility study is due to be completed by the end of the year. Ferretti may then seek to participate in the tender process to supply transmission towers to the NSW-SA Interconnector," she said.
"We would certainly welcome that outcome and we've been pleased to provide the basis on which the study and a possible tender could be forthcoming.
"It is ultimately a decision for the energy connect project proponents."
Ferretti CEO David Evans said the project would create approximately 150 new jobs in Whyalla and see $100 million being spent on Aussie steel in Australia compared to on imported steel.
"It would be a great opportunity to work with GFG Alliance to get 20,000 tonnes of Australian steel a year going into transmission towers and interconnectors," he said.
Mr Evans said the feasibility study was on target to be completed in December.
"This is a very good project and one that deserves federal and state government support, we're very optimistic about it," he said.
Senator Patrick also raised whether GFG Alliance had approached the federal government seeking support for their plans to expand Whyalla's steel-making operations, and whether that support would be forthcoming.
Senator Cash confirmed that no formal request for assistance had submitted by GFG to the government to date.
"The Morrison Government together with the South Australian state government continues to engage in good faith with GFG regarding the future of the Whyalla Steelworks.
"The government will continue to work constructively with GFG and the South Australian Government to explore potential options to support the Whyalla Transformation Plan.
"I am instructed though, that until a formal proposal is actually put to the government it would not be appropriate to speculate on what support would or would not be forthcoming."
In a supplementary question Senator Patrick asked what percentage of the 262,000 tonnes of steel needed for the federal government's $10 billion Inland Rail project will be sourced from Whyalla.
Liberty Primary Steel currently has a $20 million contract to provide 14,000 tonnes of rail.for the project, with 6000 tonnes of Whyalla steel being delivered in July.
Senator Cash said the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) awarded a $31 million contract to GFG Alliance to supply steel for the next stage of the project in July.
"This builds on the $20 million contract awarded to GFG in December 2017 to supply steel for the Parkes to Narromine section of Inland Rail."