Australia Premier 'cautiously optimistic' on Whyalla
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South Australian Premier Steven Marshall says he remains "cautiously optimistic" over the future of the Whyalla steelworks despite issues with financing and moves to potentially appoint liquidators to the operations.
With a court hearing scheduled in NSW in early May, Mr Marshall said its British industrialist owner Sanjeev Gupta was increasingly confident new financing arrangements could be put in place.
The premier said the steelworks were both important to the SA economy and critical to Australia's ambitions as a nation.
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"I am feeling cautiously optimistic at the moment because I think the fundamentals for the Whyalla business are right," he said on Sunday.
"The iron ore price is through the roof and the production rates for the plant are the best ever.
"And we know that they have a very full order book courtesy of the federal government."
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Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was important that both state and federal governments were working on the same plan to "get the right outcome".
"We are committed to ensuring that Australia makes steel," he said.
The prime minister recently raised the prospect of providing finance to the Whyalla operations where thousands of jobs are on the line after Citibank, acting on behalf of Credit Suisse, launched court action in an attempt to wind up two of Mr Gupta's operations - OneSteel Manufacturing and Tahmoor Coal.
If successful, the move could trigger the appointment of liquidators to the Whyalla steelworks and its associated mines, which employ more than 1800 South Australians, and to the Tahmoor coal mine in NSW.
The action came after the collapse of Mr Gupta's major lender Greensill.
His UK-based company, GFG Alliance, has vowed to vigorously defend the court action, saying it does not conduct any financing with Credit Suisse.
Premier Marshall and Mr Morrison have discussed providing bridging finance to keep the steelworks afloat should creditors take control of GFG.
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