In a huge blow to local manufacturing, Molycop has announced it will no longer make steel at Waratah.
It follows a warning from the company to Australia’s Anti-Dumping Commission in 2021 that unless tariffs on Chinese steel imports were increased it may have to cease local production.
The company will continue to manufacture grinding media, rail wheels and other specialised products at the Waratah site.
However, the decision to cease steel-making operations will leave about 250 workers without jobs.
It has come as a shock to Business Hunter CEO Bob Hawes who has labelled the news as distressing.
“The plight of the workers must come first, and it will be important for the region to do its best to retain the skills of these workers, given the ambitions we harbour in so many related and integrated industries.
“These sorts of occurrences are a reminder of the difficult circumstances that many businesses are operating under. Energy certainty continues to be a source of intense pressure for business, with high energy users shouldering the risk of further price increases and supply shortfalls that impact their bottom line.
“We’re at a moment in time that requires a rapid scaling up of sovereign manufacturing capability, not the reverse. We would anticipate the federal government will be keen to understand the circumstances and assist where they can, given their own ambitions for improving Australia’s sovereign manufacturing capabilities,” Mr Hawes said.
The Australian Workers Union is also reacting to the news, the union’s New South Wales Branch Secretary Tony Callinan says they will work with Molycop to ensure full redundancies and re-training opportunities were provided to those affected.
“This announcement will come as a painful shock to workers, many of whom have worked at that site for their whole working lives.
“This steel mill has been operating for over a century, sustaining livelihoods and the community. Today’s announcement represents a sad day for the Hunter and a sad day for the Australian manufacturing industry.
“Right now our immediate focus is on working with the company to minimise the pain. Expressions of interest for voluntary redundancies from across the entire site will hopefully minimise forced redundancies and there will be re-training opportunities for those who need to continue working,” Mr Callinan said.