Expert: impact of Whyalla Arrium closure would be worse than Holden shutdown

The closure of Arrium’s loss-making Whyalla steelworks would have a greater impact on its community than the closure of Holden’s Elizabeth factory next year would, according to Professor John Spoehr.

The academic from Flinders University’s Business School told the ABC that the federal and state governments should formulate an assistance package for the company. 1,100 are employed at the steelworks and a tenth of the workforce in Whyalla – population 22,000 – work at Arrium.

"It's important that we explore every possible option for keeping the plant in operation in the years to come," Professor Spoehr told the ABC.

An estimated 4,000 jobs would be at risk due to the factory’s mothballing, which is being examined by the company. Studies on this are due to finish in April, as announced when the company released its half-year profit results last month. A steelworks shutdown would see many in the community relocate. 

"It would have a devastating impact on the local economy, because it's such a significant employer, and in some ways it would have a more detrimental impact than the closure of Holden is going to have in Adelaide, because it represents a much larger proportion of total employers in the area," said Professor Spoehr.