Liberty House CEO visits Whyalla and announces $1.26 billion investment in steelworks
Liberty House CEO Sanjeev Gupta visited Whyalla on Friday and went into more detail about his plans for the recently-rescued Arrium steelworks.
According to Gupta, the steelworks present a perfect opportunity to capitalize on Australia’s decade-long infrastructure boom and he has mapped out a plan that will involve a $USD 1 billion ($AUD 1.26 billion) spend to prove it.
“We need to rise to this and make the steel here in Australia rather than import it,” Mr Gupta told the Australian Financial Review.
The Arrium steelworks have been renamed Liberty OneSteel, which was the name of the original company spun out from BHP Billiton in 2000. In 2012, OneSteel officially became Arrium.
After completing a 100-day review of the plant, Liberty House will begin the modernization process it hopes will lift the plant’s capacity from 1.2 to 1.5 million tonnes of steel per annum.
Gupta told the Australian Financial Review that the bulk of the $1.26 billion-dollar investment would be “very quick” and most likely happen in the first 18 to 24 months. He said that Liberty House is also considering building a new plant on the site which will have a capacity of between 4 to 5 million tonnes a year.
Gupta was in Whyalla for the formal handover of Arrium, which had gone into voluntary administration owing more than $4 billion to creditors. It is thought that Liberty House paid around $700 million for the steelworks.
When Gupta’s Liberty House bought Arrium in July he became Whyalla’s official saviour.
According to a report by Flinders University Australian Industrial Transformation Institute, if Arrium had not been bought, the economy of Whyalla would have shrunk by around $500 million in gross regional product and suffered a loss of employment of around roughly 4000 jobs (40%).
The Arrium purchase has been great news for Whyalla’s property market, which had struggled due to the limbo caused by the steelwork’s financial turmoil.