NSW Government Backs Illawarra’s Industrial Future


The NSW Government has given planning approval for a major refurbishment of BlueScope’s 60-year-old plate mill to strengthen production, stimulate the state’s economy, and create new local jobs.

The development is a massive endorsement of locally made steel operations in NSW, with an estimated $650 million injection of stimulus to the economy.

The upgrade will improve production capability and capacity at the Port Kembla site, where steel slabs are rolled down the line at 1300 degrees Celsius, to cater to an increased demand in the construction, renewable energy and the defence sector.

The multimillion-dollar project will involve replacing 2 of the existing furnaces with a newer and more energy efficient alternative, upgrading infrastructure and modernising processing plant equipment.

The project includes measures to reduce environmental impacts from its operations such as a large reduction in fuel consumption. It will also result in:

  • increased production capacity from an existing 430,000 tonnes per year to 600,000 tonnes
  • a direct economic stimulus of $650 million for NSW
  • the creation of 95 full-time construction jobs during peak construction periods and an additional 18 operational jobs.

The State Significant Development approval will allow BlueScope to support the emerging renewable energy sector in the Illawarra producing more high-quality steel plates, which will help the state work towards its target of Net Zero by 2050.

In a show of support for the upgrade and the broader industrial land transformation project, the government can also announce the establishment of a ‘whole of government’ Working Group to be chaired by the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces and Member for Wollongong.

The Working Group will coordinate government decision making in the largest industrial land reactivation proposal in the world – the equivalent to transforming land use in Sydney CBD from Circular Quay to Central Station. This project is expected to provide employment land for up to 30,000 people.

Works are expected to commence in July 2024 and will take 3 years to complete.

For more information, visit the NSW Planning Portal.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces and Member for Wollongong Paul Scully said:

“Port Kembla Steelworks is an important part of Wollongong with a history of steelmaking of nearly 100 years. This major project represents the most comprehensive upgrade of the plate mill since it was built in 1963.

“Much of the original plant is still in use today including the original reheat furnaces, and 6 decades later, this upgrade is needed to modernise operations and increase efficiency.

“The new furnace represents the best available technology which will keep steel plate production local and continue to provide enormous economic benefit to the Illawarra for the future.

“Combined with the reline of the number 6 blast furnace and the approved jetty upgrades these investments signal a strong future for steelmaking in the Illawarra.

“I look forward to this upgrade getting underway and these new highly skilled job opportunities being offered to the local community.

“I am also looking forward to chairing the new ‘whole of government’ Working Group acting as a one stop shop for the coordination of departmental and agency decision making on the world’s largest land reactivations – the equivilent of tranforming land use in Sydney CBD from Circular Quay to Central Station.

“This confirms the strategic importance that the NSW Government places on this land transformation – not only for the Illawarra region but the whole of NSW.”

Chief Executive Australian Steel Products Tania Archibald said:

“The modernisation of the plate mill is an important step in bolstering Australia’s sovereign manufacturing capability, supporting critical industries like renewable energy, defence and major infrastructure.

“This project is a testament to BlueScope’s vision to be a vibrant, modern and sustainable manufacturer in Australia.”

/Public Release. View in full here.