Whyalla Steelworks fires up after long shutdown

Steel is again rolling off the Whyalla Steelworks production line for the first time since an unplanned shutdown in March.

Jul 05, 2024, updated Jul 05, 2024
Whyalla Steelworks is again producing steel for the first time since March. File photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

Whyalla Steelworks is again producing steel for the first time since March. File photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

Steelworks operator GFG Alliance announced today that its long recovery operation of the plant’s blast furnace was now complete, with the first steel rolling off the production line this morning.

The steelworks had not produced steel since mid-March when its blast furnace went too cold during a two-day maintenance shutdown.

The furnace’s external shell was then damaged during attempts to bring it back up to temperature, setting back the restart timeline.

Koutsantonis Steelworks

Energy and Mining Minister Tom Koutsantonis providing a social media update about the steelworks this morning.

“Returning the blast furnace to normal operation was a difficult task with many setbacks and a return to steelmaking is a testament to the dedication and commitment of our skilled and expert team,” GFG Alliance chair Sanjeev Gupta said in a statement.

“To them I say thank you.

“We can now get on with producing high quality steel in Whyalla which supports our customers, workers and their families along with the rest of the Whyalla and South Australian community.”

Gupta also said that GFG has begun work on designing a new system to “give us more control over restarts” of the blast furnace to ensure a similar situation does not occur again.

The ramifications of the steelworks’ shutdown were significant for Whyalla, with many workers at the plant – the city’s biggest employer – taking an effective 30 per cent pay cut while GFG worked to fix the blast furnace.

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More than 1000 people are directly employed by at the plant, which is Australia’s only manufacturer of long steel products.

GFG Alliance announced on Thursday that workers would begin returning to regular, full-paying shift rosters.

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