Steel is the key component of almost every construction project in Australia and has played an important role in our history. The steel industry continues to be essential to our economic growth and a reliable, high-quality supply of steel is needed to ensure the construction of roads, bridges, apartment blocks and commercial buildings, to name a few. In this post, we’ll take a look at the history of steel manufacturing in Australia, and how the steel industry continues to thrive in 2018.
The Early Years
Steelmaking began in Australia in 1840 when iron ore deposits were found in South Australia. However, a combination of poor quality iron ore and insufficient technical ability meant that final product was inferior to the steel being imported from Britain. In fact, by the 20th Century steel manufacturing in Australia was almost non-existent.
While Australia’s steel production had practically been abandoned, demand was increasing. Railways were expanding across the country and there was huge demand from industry. Thus, in 1901 William Stafford (known as the Australian father of steel production) started up Australia’s first blast furnace near Lithgow. Further steelworks followed in Newcastle, Port Kembla and Whyalla creating a thriving industry. Steel production continued to grow after World War II.
“After World War II, there was further requirement for steel and steady growth was seen in Australian steel production, from 4.6 million tonnes in 1963 to 10 million tonnes in 1981. During this period sheet steel was in demand as a material for manufacturing motor vehicles and domestic appliances. Steel pipes were required for infrastructure projects and for agricultural applications such as cattle panels and Australia’s building industry used steel products as structural components and roofing materials.” – Australian Steel Association Inc
Recession in the 80’s
The 1980’s were a time of change. The recession hit and there was increasing pressure from environmental groups regarding harmful waste by-products. There was also a global excess of steel forcing changes in the Australian steel industry. The measures steel producers introduced kept the industry strong:
“From the mid 1980s Australian steel producers introduced significant changes in the industry’s structure. They rationalised their operations by closing inefficient production sites and adopted innovative practices and technologies to ensure that the local steel product remained competitive in terms of both quality and price.” – Australian Steel Association Inc
Steel In Modern Australia
In 2018, the Australian steel is still going strong and is extremely efficient.
“The Australian industry employs approximately 90,000 people and generated $11b in revenue in 2014-15.” – Arrium Mining & Minerals
While a large proportion of the steel in Australia is manufactured overseas and shipped to Australia for processing and fabrication, there are still a number of high-quality steel suppliers located in Australia. The industry continues to adapt to global challenges and work with governments to meet environmental targets.
Hard Bakka is one of Sydney’s leading steel fabrication companies. We offer a reliable, fast service at competitive prices, specialising in structural steel fabrication, welding and installation for buildings and projects.