BlueScope scores $55m govt grant for steel manufacturing plant

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

BlueScope Steel has been awarded $55 million from the federal government’s flagship manufacturing grant program to part-fund the redevelopment of its advanced manufacturing precinct near Wollongong. The precinct includes a new facility to produce steel for military applications and renewable energy infrastructure.

Announced Tuesday, the grant comes from the collaboration stream of the Coalition’s $1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI).

It’s the first major funding announcement from the stream outside of South Australia, where three other significant MMI grant announcements have been made in the run up to a state election.

The latest grant will help BlueScope in redeveloping its $217 million Advanced Steel Manufacturing Precinct around the Port Kembla steelworks, including a new facility to increase the supply of Australian steel for renewable energy projects and the defence sector.

Angus Taylor
Minister for industry, energy and emissions reduction Angus Taylor.

The modernised precinct will be able to produce plate steel which is commonly used across industries but is also needed for Defence armoured vehicles and patrol boats. The facility will also be able to produce the type of steel used to create wind turbine towers and large-scale solar installations.

BlueScope is also a major partner of the University of Wollongong’s Steel Research Hub, which is expected to collaborate with manufacturers at the Advanced Steel Manufacturing Precinct.

BlueScope Steel is listed on the ASX and has a market cap of $9.34 billion.

The latest MMI grant was announced on Tuesday by Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor.

“This precinct represents an incredible win-win – not only increasing the local production of Aussie-made steel, but also helping build up our renewable energy and defence sectors,” Mr Taylor said in a statement.

“The Port Kembla steelworks has a proud history. This precinct will help BlueScope thrive into the future and create more jobs in the region.”

The funding announcement and promise of hundreds of jobs comes just months out from a federal election, and follows alarm from the Opposition that rorts have been “baked in” to the flagship manufacturing program.

Manufacturers were given less than a month to submit proposals to the collaboration stream in August last year, but no funding was confirmed until March.

The first three grants of the MMI collaboration stream all went to projects in South Australia, where Liberal premier Steven Marshall is battling an election campaign and at risk of leading a one-term government.

An expert panel made its recommendations to the government on recipients at the start of the year, but the Prime Minister will have the final say on which companies receive the grants of up to $200 million.

Several more announcements are expected before the federal election in May.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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