Rebar company: steel protection bad news prior to infrastructure boom

Reinforcement steel maker Best Bar has criticised struggling company Arrium’s push for protection against cheap steel imports.

The Australian Financial Review reports that CEO of Best Bar, Grant Johnston, said Arrium’s problems were of its own making, and the push for protection was bad news before a predicted infrastructure boom.

Best Bar imports raw steel from Singapore, finishes this and sells into some of the country’s major infrastructure projects. According to Johnston, it commands a tenth (Arrium 80 per cent) of the local reinforcement steel sector, employs over 300 at five locations, and has revenues of around $200 million.

"We go in to tender on some of these large projects, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, and we're now being told unless we use Australian-made steel we can't qualify as a tender but construction companies still want our pricing to keep Arrium honest," Johnston told The AFR.

Arrium announced two weeks ago that it needed to save $60 million at its Whyalla steelworks (which employs around 1,100) or it would mothball the site. It currently has a reported net debt of over $2 billion.

The iron ore miner and steelmaker is under severe pressure from both low ore prices and a glut of cheap imported steel. The day after Arrium announced its results, the federal government announced a report into dumped Asian steel and aluminium.

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