BRIEFS Aus­tralia ahead

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AUS­TRALIA en­joys com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tages in the steel-mak­ing in­dus­try, BlueScope Steel has told fed­eral par­lia­ment’s House Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Eco­nomics, Fi­nance and Pub­lic Ad­min­is­tra­tion, which has been hold­ing an in­quiry into the state of Aus­tralia’s man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor.

It cited Aus­tralia’s ready ac­cess to in­puts, high qual­ity iron ore, ex­ten­sive met­al­lur­gi­cal de­posits and com­pet­i­tive en­ergy sup­plies, all of which go into blast fur­nace steel.

Even though pop­u­lous na­tions such as China and In­dia had lower labour costs, the rel­a­tive rise of raw ma­te­rial costs meant labour had be­come a less im­por­tant fac­tor.

Ac­cord­ing to BlueScope, raw ma­te­ri­als are now about 65 per cent of a steel­maker’s costs whereas once they were about 25 per cent.

‘‘ Steel­mak­ers in coun­tries such as China, with low labour costs but with­out lo­cal de­posits of high-qual­ity iron ore, are see­ing their rel­a­tive com­pet­i­tive­ness re­duced by th­ese fac­tors,’’ BlueScope said..

True cost of rust un­known

BE­CAUSE the eco­nomic cost of cor­ro­sion was last es­ti­mated more than 20 years ago, the Aus­tralasian Cor­ro­sion As­so­ci­a­tion is try­ing to drum up sup­port for fresh re­search.

ACA pres­i­dent Fred Salome says re­search in the 1980s es­ti­mated that the cost of cor­ro­sion to the Aus­tralian econ­omy was about 2 per cent per an­num, or $2 bil­lion at the time. Ac­cord­ing to Salome, th­ese fig­ures are still be­ing widely cited, even though there is no guar­an­tee they re­main ac­cu­rate.

He said a 2002 US es­ti­mate of the di­rect costs of cor­ro­sion came in at 3.1 per cent of that coun­try’s GDP. By as­sum­ing the same rel­a­tive cost in the Aus­tralian scene, he cal­cu­lated cor­ro­sion costs here would come to about $28 bil­lion a year.

‘‘ Of course, th­ese num­bers don’t stand close scru­tiny, and what we re­ally need is a rig­or­ous and ac­cu­rate as­sess­ment of the cost of cor­ro­sion, the size of our [cor­ro­sion pre­ven­tion] in­dus­try and a means for mea­sur­ing our per­for­mance,’’ he said.

Lost pro­duc­tion and op­por­tu­nity costs formed a large part of the over­all cost of cor­ro­sion, he said.

The ACA will be tour­ing a marine cor­ro­sion sem­i­nar around Aus­tralia’s cap­i­tal cities next month. Speak­ers will look at cor­ro­sion con­trol in ships, bridges, mari­nas, pipe­lines, de­sali­na­tion plants and other struc­tures in marine en­vi­ron­ments.

Syd­ney ar­chi­tects cho­sen

SYD­NEY-based ar­chi­tec­tural firm Collins and Turner has been short-listed as a fi­nal­ist in an in­ter­na­tional sus­tain­able hous­ing de­sign com­pe­ti­tion be­ing run by the hous­ing-steel pro­mo­tion pro­gram Liv­ing Steel. Collins and Turner is one of six firms cho­sen to sub­mit fi­nal de­signs for hous­ing in Brazil.

Ac­cord­ing to Liv­ing Steel, in­ter­est in the com­pe­ti­tion came from more than 1100 en­trants across 88 coun­tries.

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