OREANDA-NEWS. Australia's only flat products steelmaker Bluescope Steel is threatening to close its Australian and New Zealand plants and import hot rolled coil (HRC), unless its workers agree to restructuring that will save it A$250mn/yr ($180.7mn/yr) in costs.

Bluescope has put its 2.5mn t/yr Port Kembla steelworks and its 500,000 t/yr New Zealand steelworks up for closure unless unions agree to a major restructuring programme during the next two to three months.

Port Kembla gets its iron ore from UK-Australian firm BHP Billiton's Pilbara iron ore mines in Western Australia and its coking coal from South32's Illawarra coking coal mines in New South Wales.

Bluescope said it needs to take A$200mn out of its annual costs at Port Kembla to allow it to compete with low-cost imports, largely from China. Otherwise it will be forced to close the blast furnace and import HRC to its cold rolling mills in Australia. The restructuring will cost Bluescope 500 jobs, while closing Port Kembla would result in the loss of 5,000 jobs in Australia.

Bluescope wants to reduce annual costs in New Zealand by NZ$50mn ($33mn) or it said it will be forced to close its Glenbrook steelmaking plant.