Whyalla workers want answers on Arrium

Angry workers in Whyalla want to know how Arrium’s executives allowed it to fall into financial peril, the company’s new lead administrator says.


KordaMentha’s Mark Mentha met Arrium staff during a trip to Whyalla on Thursday amid fears for the future of the town’s steelworks and mine.

He said workers were understandably angry with Arrium’s management for allowing the company to fall into administration.

But there was cause for optimism ahead of what’s likely to be a broad restructure of the troubled steel and mining group.

“It’s a grieving process when a company goes into administration,” Mr Mentha told reporters in Whyalla.

“There’s shock. There’s the anger that culminates with ‘how did this happen, surely there’s smarter people who wouldn’t have let his happen’ and then it’s ‘hey, the sun comes up tomorrow, we’ve got to get on with life.’

“By the end of next week I’d like to think that the emotion and the anger has all died down, we get through the creditors’ meeting and we’ll get on with turning around the Arrium business.”

KordaMentha was installed as Arrium’s new administrator in place of Grant Thornton following a joint push by the company’s major lenders and the Australian Workers’ Union.

Mr Mentha said the transition from the previous administrators had been seamless and there had been strong support from all stakeholders.

The change would ensure full co-operation from the banks as KordaMentha considers ways to make Arrium operate more efficiently.

“We’re all in the one boat and we all need to support each other,” he said.

Mr Mentha said news that BHP Billiton would consider sourcing steel from Whyalla as it expands its Olympic Dam mine represented a vote of confidence in the Arrium business.

He is expected to hold talks with South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and federal industry minister Christopher Pyne in Adelaide on Friday.