ASI chief executive, Don McDonald said that the Institute stands by the figures it has communicated widely of only 10 to 12 percent of locally fabricated steel being sourced by the resources sector for new project construction as part of the current resources boom.

The ASI rejects off-the-cuff comments by Minerals Council of Australia chief executive, Mitch Hooke on ABC TV’s 7.30 program on 30 August that Australian mining sources over 50 percent of steel locally as misleading.

Mr Hooke was referring to a recent major report prepared by the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (NIEIR) for the ASI. The NIEIR report is 240 pages long, yet Mr Hooke’s comments are based on just one table and he ignored the heading which clearly stated the context.

“The figures Mr Hooke cited refer to all steel and metalwork which includes not just mining-related construction but all operations and maintenance for every mine operating in Australia,” he said.

A vast array of operational mines in Australia has been build up over the past 50 years.

“By their very nature, mining operations, consumables and maintenance work are high on local content. This is also due to companies going back to the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to carry out maintenance and repairs,” he said.

He said that as new resources projects turn more toward Asian suppliers, Australia would also see the local share of repairs and maintenance work reducing as well in coming years.

“Let’s be clear, the 10 to 12 percent figures we are talking about are for local steel content in new resource projects under development/construction over the past few years,” he said.

“In the context of the current resources boom you would expect to see great opportunity for local industry but almost 90 percent of fabricated steel used to build these projects is imported from Asia.

“The 10 to 12 percent figure is real and unfortunately still declining and that is consistent with feedback from our members and an independent survey conducted in Western Australia.

“A greater share of major resource projects is vital to the local steel industry to stimulate demand throughout the channel to support skilled jobs and create traineeships for Australia’s young people. This will generate greater value-added benefit for the country from the resources boom.

“We are being very upfront about the local content issue and our ‘non-protectionist’ policy position with regular written updates released to the media.”