Catholic Church holds project’s future in its hands

Paul Sundstrom is part of the rescue group helping to get the Boulder Steel project out of administration and into the community's hands.
Paul Sundstrom is part of the rescue group helping to get the Boulder Steel project out of administration and into the community's hands. Luka Kauzlaric

THE future of a key Gladstone project appears to be in the hands of God.

The Catholic Church of Australia's insurance fund could be a major key to the success of the city's steel project and thousands of local jobs.

The church's shareholding looks like determining the outcome of the shareholders' vote next week.

A majority negative vote would almost certainly lead to the liquidation of the company, which would result in a total loss to all shareholders.

But shareholders have nothing to lose by voting the company out of administration, according to those behind the scenes.

A number of shareholders are yet to vote, and have until 11am on Tuesday, September 2 to lodge their vote with the administrator.

Hundreds of small investors in Gladstone and Australia have supported the rescue group, which has become Gladstone Steel Pty Ltd, to save the project.

But before it can move forward the original company has to come out of administration, which requires the approval of the existing Boulder Steel shareholders.

GSPL projected 1800 full-time jobs and 5500 related jobs in Gladstone Steel, which would also provide a profitable outlook for existing Boulder Steel shareholders via the gifting of equivalent equity in GSPL.

Former rescue group co-ordinator, GSPL director Paul Sundstrom said they had stopped contributions to the project for the time being because of "unexpected uncertainty" the group was faced with to achieve the vote.

"We don't want any more money from these existing shareholders; we're just asking for their permission to keep going and doing what we're already doing," he said.

"It's a chance for the shareholders to get something back rather than seeing nothing after what they've put in."

Mr Sundstrom said if the shareholders voted the company out of administration, it would allow Otsana and Gladstone Steel's agreements to swing into play.

Gladstone Steel has already secured about 70% of the initial five million tons per annum capacity for the project from a Chinese steel processor and a processor in the Philippines, as well as getting the critical environmental impact statement re-started.

The work to save the project was being done by a dedicated team of 10 volunteers.

The Catholic Church did not return The Observer's calls before deadline.

Topics:  boulder steel shareholders

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