Australian made Twiggy

Via AFR:

Rich Lister and iron ore magnate Andrew Forrest says he’ll spend “whatever it takes” to return the 35 per cent of production which is offshore at boot and clothing maker RM Williams, back to Australia.

But it will be a staged process that could take some time because the skills base needs to be rebuilt in some specialist segments.

Mr Forrest said the business, which he and wife Nicola acquired for $190 million in October, also needed to build up more critical mass to ensure the process of returning all manufacturing to Australia could happen as quickly as possible.

“To fix the problem we’ve got to increase our scale,” Mr Forrest said.

Hmm, how to do that? Export of course. To do that increase competitiveness in every way possible including:

  • heavy taxation of bulk commodity mining rents recycled offshore as sovereign wealth fund;
  • break up all local oligopolies and rid us of billionaire rentiers;
  • cut negative gearing so land prices can deflate;
  • reform energy prices via crushing the gas cartel, and
  • tariff iron ore to China and recycle the windfall as manufacturing subsidies along with further tariffs on Chinese imports.

Ironies abound. There is this, though, via Gottiboff:

Forrest’s “green steel” plant, to be driven by “green hydrogen” extracted by electrolysis of water, is exactly the sort of development Court hoped to achieve, without having any inkling of the lower carbon movement that was to become a great force.

…CRA developed a technology called HiSmelt and erected a plant at Kwinana. The problem for HiSmelt was that it was competing with conventional steelmaking and did not earn good returns. When London took control of the CRA Australian assets and operations they shut it down.

BHP went even further to honour the McLennan undertaking and invested $2.4 billion in a massive hot briquetted iron (HBI) complex in the Pilbara, which extracted hydrogen from gas to reduce the iron ore to iron. The HBI plant hit severe problems and could not gain a return. BHP wrote the entire investment off at a time when it had lost billions in its Magma US copper takeover.

The HBI plant continued to operate until there was a fatality and BHP shut it down and dismantled it.

…To be a major force in steelmaking Andrew Forrest’s “green steel” will need to be at least competitive with conventional steelmaking, which will almost certainly lower its carbon content so the blast furnace /steel furnace technology and plants can survive.

…But for that to happen we will need a technology breakthrough of gigantic proportions.

We shall see.

David Llewellyn-Smith
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  1. Ronin8317MEMBER

    Given how much those boots self for, it’ll be a very healthy profit even if it’s 100% Australian made. The chase for increasing profit margin is self defeating.

    • Bit like bush hat brims, the smarter the boot, the smaller the farm.

      Try Mongrels out for size.

    • +1

      Even the “cheap” ones are $600/pair. I paid the equivalent of that 15 years ago for my first pair when I was youngerer and foolisherer, but I wouldn’t anymore. Picked up a couple of pairs not long ago for ~60k QFF points each though, that was a stonking deal.

        • Probably need to factor $500-$1000 of repairs and maintenance over that time period, at least if you’re going to be wearing them frequently (eg: few times a week).

          Let’s say $40/yr.

          Can you buy a pair of cheap boots for $120-150 that’ll last 3-4 years with a similar usage pattern ? I’ve never really looked.

      • I am *cough* late forties. Picked up my first RMs in late 80s (actually used them for riding), lucky I had a pair as EVERYONE at boarding school had them. They lasted years and were trashed at various uni events, B&S balls and 21sts. I got my 2nd pair mid 00s that lasted over 10 years but would’ve lasted longer if I didn’t continue doing shoey’s until my late 30s. Now on 3rd pair and no longer drinking out of them so these should do me for ever …. (acknowledging might need a resole). Now you do need to polish them … but again, that is something I don’t mind doing.

        … but I feel like helping out Twiggy here. Maybe when the kids feed stop growing we will get some pairs.

  2. Hbi plant worked, but the push to develop furnaces that could handle fines made the briquettes redundant, and the death of 3 workers during a shutdown was all the excuse BHP needed to shut it down and sell it for scrap.

    • NoodlesRomanovMEMBER

      Yep – HBI was some value add that the market didn’t need. Land it as bloom/billet and you have something.

  3. I have a pair of RM Williams boots that I bought in 1990 and still wear regularly…I’m having new heels put on and the elastic sides replaced this week.

    They were expensive, but 30 years out of a pair of boots with good odds on another 30 years represents pretty good value for money.

    • Got a pairof Tassie made Blundstones I can say the same. Though pretty sure they only cost me $27 from the army disposals in Frankston in the 90s. They could do with some new elastic sides but i can probably stretch them out a few more years. I’m wearing them daily atm when i put the chooks away at night

      • Rossi still made in Oz (I think). Sadly no longer stocked at Bunnings well not in the poxy Lismore store.

    • I’m having new heels put on and the elastic sides replaced this week.

      Like Grandpa’s axe on its second head and fourth handle. 😀

      I have a few pairs of RMs as well – oldest is about 15 years and was re-heeled/resoled about 2 years ago. They do last well, but you pay some pretty serious $$$ to maintain them every 10-15 years.

      Unfortunately I suspect it’s cheaper overall to just get cheapies and replace them wholesale every 2-3 years.

    • I wish I kept my old ones – had a lot of character. Mine got a thrashing at B&S balls, and I used to actually ride / occasional farming type stuff in those ones … oh and they used to be drunk out of regularly (this is actually the worst part as it soaks the inside and it needs to dry so it can age the leather – try not to do this!!)

  4. Twiggy wants Australia to open its borders to mass immigration, then he can have all the slave labour he needs…

  5. Pretty sure Twiggy will use >$260m federal grant money to build his power transmission project in the NW, all the transmission towers will be imported from [email protected] All the water pipes for his mines >300k will come from Turkey.
    If he is so keen on getting things done locally he can start there His booties are a smokescreen.

    Also pretty sure the Ch1n3s3 pinched Hismelt IP if not the whole box and dice.