National News

Gupta reaffirms Whyalla expansion

Arrium's new owner, British industrialist Sanjeev Gupta, has reaffirmed earlier promises to expand the Whyalla steelworks after he takes charge of the operations later this year.

Mr Gupta says he expects to spend considerable time in the South Australian regional centre to realise his vision of turning the plant into a world-class steel producer.

"Even our immediate, short-to-medium term plans see us investing well over $1 billion here," he said after touring the plant and meeting workers on Monday.

"There are longer-term plans which could be far more grand in terms of steel capacity.

"This place has the infrastructure to be a substantial steel plant of several million tonnes."

Mr Gupta's company, GFG Alliance, has signed a binding agreement to buy Arrium, with the deal on track to be completed by the end of August.

It has brought an end to 15-months of uncertainty for the 1500 workers in Whyalla and for the wider community after the company was placed in administration because of its inability to refinance rising debts.

Mr Gupta, who has a strong track record of buying distressed steel companies across the UK and turning them around, said it must have been a "gruelling and horrible" time for all those involved.

He said a decision by the workforce to accept a 10 per cent pay cut to keep Arrium afloat was also appreciated.

"Their sacrifice was certainly instrumental in inspiring people like us to come in," he said.

But Mr Gupta also warned that there was still much work to do before the plant was globally competitive.

"It's the beginning of a long, tough journey. We're committed to it and I will not rest, but it's a long road ahead," he said.

On Wednesday, Mr Gupta will visit another Arrium facility when he meets workers and management at the Onesteel plant at Laverton in Victoria.

© AAP 2017

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