Manufacturing News

Workers begin to return to normal shifts at Whyalla steelworks

Manufacturing News

Workers are gradually returning to regular shift rosters at the GFG Alliance-owned Whyalla steelworks in South Australia, following issues at the blast furnace after a routine shutdown operation in mid-March.

Hundreds are back to work as usual, according to a statement from GFG Alliance on Wednesday.

The blast furnace’s restart operation “is nearing completion following a series of breakthroughs which have seen the hot metal temperature and chemistry move to optimal levels in recent days”, the company added.   

“Workers in power and services, maintenance and steelmaking divisions who were on a temporary day work roster will progressively transition to their regular shift rosters from today as preparations begin for a return of steel making.”

Rolling mill workers are also expected to return to regular shift rosters shortly.  

The plant employs about 900.

Liberty Primary Steel Managing Director Tony Swiericzuk said that the company was “at the pointy end” of recovery operations.

“We are continuing to work with our customers to ensure their needs are met and we  will continue to do so as production begins,’’ Tony said. 

The shutdown was first reported a month after a scheduled two-day stoppage for maintenance of the blast furnace saw it become too cold and then damaged after Liberty attempted to get it back up to normal temperatures.

The Chairman of GFG Alliance – the parent company of Liberty – Sanjeev Gupta announced in late-May that steelmaking had resumed.

Earlier in May the company shared that around 50 per cent of workers at Whyalla agreed to move from a shift roster of 42-hour, seven-day roster to roster of 7.6-hours a day over five days, a pay cut of about 30 per cent.

GFG announced in 2023 that it will eventually move away from coal-based steelmaking and install a 160-tonne electric arc furnace from Italy’s Danieli.

The $500 million “green steel” upgrade to the site, which was originally expected to be complete in 2025, was recently pushed back until 2027.

On Wednesday GFG said that the blast furnace will be retired eventually, and “until then GFG Alliance will continue to take careful and considered measures to safely operate and maintain the condition of the Blast Furnace and more broadly the Whyalla Steelworks.”

Picture: credit GFG Alliance

Further reading

Whyalla blast furnace up and running after repair

Whyalla steelworks restart ‘imminent’ – Gupta

Whyalla steelworks coke ovens extinguished in historic change

Whyalla site will retire blast furnace, up capacity with new electric arc furnace: GFG

Share this Story
Manufacturing News

Stay Informed

Go to Top