GLADSTONE'S leaders have engaged in an open session about the future of Gladstone's steel plant, with positive feedback about the project that could offer the region 1300 full-time positions and an additional 500 maintenance positions.
Gladstone Engineering Alliance and Gladstone Regional Council engaged with Euroa Steel Plant Project (formerly Boulder Steel) directors David Simpson and Ross Johnson, as the project seeks financial backing of an estimated $5 million to complete the environmental impact statement and cover costs.
An important shareholders meeting, which would allow the business to come out of administration, is taking place on Wednesday after a six-month delay.
GEA general manager Carli Hobbs said the project would boost Gladstone's economy, "and it is fantastic to see their plans to construct means local businesses will win work".
"We felt there was a lot of incorrect information circulating the region regarding the project, and asked Mr Simpson and Mr Johnson to come up and address these concerns directly," she said.
"The team behind the Euroa Steel Plant Project are extremely passionate and are working hard to make this project happen."
First steel would be expected in 2018, following 68% of offtake agreements confirmed.
Getting on with the job - a message from Gladstone Steel chairman of directors Paul Sundstrom
A LOT of water under the bridge since we set out after Christmas to rescue the formally named Boulder Steel project, and in taking stock of progress, I felt it was appropriate to remind myself of the reason I got so involved in the first place, as well as the deliberations I went through before going ahead with it.
I felt enormous pressure to have a go at saving the project, as I had found myself "being the only one still standing, without a chair, when the music stopped".
But was frightened by the magnitude of the task, and the possible consequences if I failed. In the end I realised why there was no one else available, as there were five criteria that had to be met:
A very good understanding of the situation Boulder was in.
Able to immediately drop what I was doing, and go flat out for several months on it.
Have the experience and capability to believe I had a reasonable chance of success.
Have the known integrity to be trusted by the community with their money, as a normal trust fund would not have worked in this case.
Be fire-walled against the consequences of possible legal action.
As a professional engineer, many years back, when there was no limit on the liability of the engineer, I set up a firewall structure to protect our primary assets, instead of paying silly money for professional indemnity insurance.
This project will have an enormous impact on the local area if it goes ahead, and the overwhelming likelihood now is that it will.
Apart from the large number of construction jobs, it will provide something like 2500 permanent jobs, compared to the previous estimate of 1800, as we are now planning for a facility of double the size, made up of 1270 jobs on site, and 530 full-time maintenance jobs.
These new jobs are all created, as opposed to relocated from somewhere else, as 100% of the production will be exported.
And for every new job, at least the equivalent of another three jobs are created due to the new money being spent, which will mean at least 10,000 new jobs in all.
The project will also attract a lot of new industry to the area, and lead to the establishment of an economical domestic gas supply.