$200m to help future-proof regional steel manufacturing

The future of Australian steelmaking is being backed up to deliver the energy transformation and help keep our producers competitive on a global scale.

The first round of the Powering the Regions Fund (PRF) will provide $200m in grant funding to BlueScope Steel Limited and Liberty Steel Australia to progress projects at their respective operations in New South Wales and South Australia.

BlueScope has been awarded $136.8m towards the reline and upgrade of its No. 6 Blast Furnace at the Port Kembla Steelworks. This project will maintain domestic production, reduce emissions, and support pathways to producing even lower-emissions steel in the future.

LIBERTY has also been awarded $63.2m towards the purchase and commission of a low-carbon electric arc furnace (EAF) to replace the existing traditional blast furnace at the Whyalla Steelworks. The new state-of-the-art EAF will support the manufacturing of green steel and help achieve LIBERTY’s aim of carbon neutrality by 2030.

Total steel demand for the energy transformation from 2022 to 2050 will be almost five billion tonnes, accounting for 75% of the total material requirement – and that steel will increasingly be green steel.

“This $200 million investment in the steel sector is about securing the long-term future of the steel industry in Australia,” said Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen. “As we transform to Net Zero it is vital that we support our industries to adopt and manufacture cleaner technologies. Steel is essential for our energy transformation. 90% of the materials that go into making a wind turbine are steel and cement, and we’re going to need a lot more of it.”

“Clean, green Australian steel is the way of the future,” added Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic. “Our economy needs it and it will sustain and create great jobs in our regions.”

The BlueScope project will employ approximately 250 additional workers on-site during the upgrade and reline of the blast furnace and will help secure the local workforce over the long term, including the thousands of jobs at the Port Kembla Steelworks. LIBERTY’s shift to green iron and steel will increase its workforce by around 24% over five years and help provide retraining and opportunities to learn new skills for a substantial number of existing employees.

These grants are the first to be delivered under the PRF through its Critical Inputs to Clean Energy Industries program, which supports hard-to-abate sectors like steel so Australia can keep making the things that are vital to the energy transition, including electricity and rail infrastructure, like wind towers, solar farms and energy transmission, and the construction of energy-efficient buildings.

The Albanese Government has also committed $200m in grant funding for the hard-to-abate cement and lime and alumina and aluminium sectors, with successful projects to be announced in the coming months.