Arrium admins ‘overwhelmed’ by support

Arrium’s major customers are rallying around the troubled steel and mining company as administrators consider ways to turn the business around.

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Lead administrator Mark Mentha says he has been inundated with offers of support from suppliers and builders since KordaMentha took control of Arrium.

The support has encouraged the administrators as they stress the importance of stabilising the Arrium business amid fears for its future.

“I’m quite overwhelmed with the support that we’re getting from the large corporate base and from the small suppliers that we have both here in South Australia and on the eastern seaboard,” Mr Mentha told reporters in Adelaide.

“We’ve had iconic companies like Lend Lease, Meriton, John Holland, express to us their support for their ongoing commitment to us as a business.

“Their supply and orders will continue to flow.”

Mr Mentha met on Friday with SA Premier Jay Weatherill, who outlined plans for a package to attract investment in Arrium’s Whyalla steelworks and surrounding infrastructure.

About 1600 jobs are under threat at the steelworks and an adjoining iron ore mine, in addition to thousands more across the country.

“We’ve been talking about all the issues around the port, we’ve been talking about dual access,” Mr Mentha said.

“There are other parties interested in sharing the infrastructure … (and) there’s lots of efficiencies that are available in the Whyalla plant.”

The chief executive of Bluescope Steel, Paul O’Malley, had also offered advice about the action taken to save its Port Kembla steelworks in NSW.

Mr Mentha said Arrium’s financiers, including the big four banks, wanted to minimise the disruption caused by Arrium’s collapse in towns such as Whyalla.

“It has a flow-on effect into mortgages, into credit cards, into small business loans,” Mr Mentha said.

“The people who have these jobs are parents. They’re going home at night with the anxiety of not knowing ‘Will we be here next year, next week?’. We’re trying to settle all of that down.”

Mr Mentha was scheduled to meet with federal industry minister Christopher Pyne and independent senator Nick Xenophon later on Friday.