BlueScope steeling for success

Sal Chiodi (left), Phil Shoard, Peter Di Pietro and Warren Harrington in No 5 blast furnace, to be relit this week. Picture: ROBERT PEETBlueScope Steel reported a $66 million loss yesterday, but is confident the relighting of Port Kembla’s No 5 blast furnace this week will help it return to profitability.The steelmaker is eager to get the blast furnace operating at full capacity next month because it is taking more orders than it can fill.Managing director and chief executive Paul O’Malley reported a net loss after tax of $66 million for the 2008-09 financial year and an underlying net profit after tax of $56 million, down 93 per cent. SLIDESHOW: BlueSCope No 5 blast furnace relineIt was the company’s first full year loss since July 2002, but he was confident the tide had started to turn.”Definitely, we are seeing an improvement in demand in the domestic Australian business, perhaps a little bit faster than we were expecting,” he said.”We have absolutely seen increased demand in our export market and our core customers are keen for us at the moment to provide them more steel than we can actually make. “We are looking forward to bringing No 5 blast furnace back on line. The sooner we do that the sooner we will return to profitability.”No 5 blast furnace would not be up and running “at any reasonable level” until September, he said, “so this is still going to be a bit of a tough six months”.Mr O’Malley said steel demand started to turn around in March.”We are actually seeing August better than the last three or four months. It is probably at a level of demand that is slightly better than what we were actually expecting.”The last financial year had started strongly, he said, with hot rolled coil prices exceeding $1200 a tonne. However, as sales volumes and prices started to decline late last year, BlueScope had undertaken major initiatives, such as introducing a cost savings program, adjusting production to balance against demand and inventory and moving the No 5 reline forward.BlueScope had moved quickly and successfully to reduce costs and delivered $295 million in savings.The company would continue its cost reduction initiatives, but Mr O’Malley said it now had a very strong foundation.”The global liquidation steel sale is now over. We are seeing restocking underway,” he said. “We are cautious about the demand recovery, but … our customers are taking all of the steel that we can produce and No 6 blast furnace is running flat out and No 5 blast furnace will actually be relit sometime this week.”Mr O’Malley warned the market was coming off a very low base after steel prices fell as low as $480 a tonne, and now were “ticking above” $600 a tonne.Australian and New Zealand Steel Manufacturing Businesses chief executive Noel Cornish said despite the most difficult year in BlueScope’s seven-year history there were still many local highlights such as the No 5 blast furnace reline and sinter plant upgrade.”The successful completion of both these projects is a great credit to the thousands of mostly local people who worked on them and a great testament to the heavy industry capability that exists in the Illawarra,” he said. “While commentary about the global financial crisis is taking on a more optimistic flavour lately, business conditions for steelmakers around the world, including ourselves, remain difficult. We will need to continue to take a frugal approach to containing costs for the foreseeable future.”Novus Capital stockbroker Doug Symes said BlueScope had done a remarkable job curbing costs, but it was hard to predict the future with any certainty.”So much depends on what happens with interest rates … we are not as far out of the woods as some would suggest.”
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Dom Cooks’ second crack at American basketball

Dom Cooks is about to head to Honolulu. Picture: ADAM McLEANDom Cooks’ first taste of American college basketball didn’t pan out the way he planned.Shortly after arriving in the US 12 months ago, the former Illawarra and NSW junior representative wrecked his ankle during one of his first training sessions with Utah State University.”It was tough at times, especially getting injured,” Cooks said. “I was in a boot and on crutches for about four months and that was pretty frustrating, especially with the snow in Utah. It wasn’t much fun trying to get around on crutches in snow.”On Thursday Cooks heads back overseas, this time to take up a scholarship with Chaminade University, a Division II college smack bang in the middle of sunny Honolulu.”The campus looks awesome. It’s set in the hills of Honolulu and overlooks the beach, so I’m really looking forward to it,” the 19-year-old Cooks (pictured) said. “It’ll be good to be somewhere a bit warmer.”It’ll make it a lot easier being in a place that’s a bit like home with the beaches and everything.”A private Catholic college, Chaminade boasts a proud history. It is a stone’s throw away from the University of Hawaii and hosts the prestigious Maui Invitational every year. In the 1982 tournament, Chaminade scored what is widely regarded as the greatest upset in college basketball history when they defeated the nation’s top-ranked Division I team Virginia 77-72.”The Maui Invitational is a big tournament and they get big-time schools like North Carolina and Marquette,” Cooks said. “It’s basically Chaminade and seven other massive Division I schools, so that’ll be a lot of fun playing in that.”The son of Wollongong Hawks assistant coach Eric Cooks, Dom won’t be the only Australian on Chaminade’s playing roster, with 208cm Queenslander Chris Smith returning for his sophomore season.Aside from his ankle injury, Cooks said he had no regrets about his time in Utah.”It took a while to get used to, but I met some great people,” he said. “It was a great experience … but I’m ready for a change.”Cooks will be one of several new faces at Chaminade, who have lost four or five seniors. He is comfortable about his new start after his pre-season training with the Hawks.”I just jumped in with the boys and the off-season has definitely been good for me.”
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Local hero Goss upstages national and world stars

FOCUS OF ATTENTION: Winner Matthew Goss.(1/2)About 12,000 people lined the city’s streets to see Matthew Goss, 18, win the richest one-day road race in Australia.
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The dual junior world champion outsprinted Olympic gold medallist and Tour de France champion Stuart O’Grady to claim the $10,000 winner’s cheque.

“To win such a big race in your home town is unbelievable,” an overwhelmed Goss said after the race.

“With so many spectators and so many supporters out on the course and in front of my family and friends – it was just awesome.”

O’Grady finished second ahead of American Gui Nelesson, with another six Tasmanians – Karl Menzies, Mark Jamieson, Chris Wilding, Josh Wilson, Jarrod Harmon and Michael Wilson – in the top 20.

Race director Tom Sawyer said he could not have planned a better finish to the race.

“Matt is just a great kid – he really does have some talent, he works it and he has the guts to do it,” Sawyer said.

“I think he is the star of the future.”

The success of last night’s event would have brought relief and satisfaction for Sawyer and co-organiser Stan Siejka, who faced a tough battle to secure the race.

When the Launceston City Council withdrew $45,000 in funding in November, most would have crumbled.

But the determined and passionate cycling pair, with the help of local businesses, got on their bike and organised the international- standard event in just over a month.

“The first year we put it together in three months and this year we have put it together in six weeks – I am ready to take on the world,” Sawyer said. “Sometimes there are little tests in life and this proves that you can do stuff when you really want to do it.”

Gunns retail general manager David Legro said he would be in talks with race organisers to plan next year’s race.

“It was fantastic to be associated with and support such an event of international standing,” Mr Legro said.

“It was an easy decision for us to be involved to keep it here, and to get the support of 10-12,000 people and a Tasmanian victory – what more could you want?”

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Recovery of Fromelles remains ‘a nightmare’

Archaeologists excavate the site by hand. Picture: Tim LovelessA Belgian World War I expert has described as a “nightmare” and “wickedness” the methods used by an English archaeological firm to exhume the bodies of 300 Australian and British soldiers left forgotten for 90 years in a mass grave in northern France.Two Illawarra men are believed to be buried in the grave at Pheasant Wood after the Battle of Fromelles on July 19, 1916. They are Sergeant Harold Richardson, and Private Robert Gladstone Fenwick of Helensburgh.The battlefield specialist, Johan Vandewalle, played a key role in the successful excavation and recovery of the remains of five Australian soldiers found in Zonnebeke in northern Belgium in 2006.The Sydney Morning Herald has revealed that Mr Vandewalle was seconded secretly to Fromelles in June when bad weather highlighted that the firm chosen to complete the excavation, Oxford Archaeology, was inadequately prepared to cope with rising groundwater and rainstorms.The company, which is not affiliated with Oxford University, won the job with a bid almost half the price of its competitors from Glasgow and Birmingham universities.Mr Vandewalle is the only independent witness to the exhumation, regarded by European historians as the most important World War I find in 80 years. Media have been banned from the site since May. He is seen briefly in a video on the project website but is not named or credited.The Belgian expert has expressed concern privately that delays, the tight schedule and cost-cutting has turned what was specified as an archaeological excavation project into a “body recovery exercise” and is even fearful that the men’s remains may be mixed up.The Herald contacted Mr Vandewalle but he would not comment, citing a confidentiality clause in his contract with Oxford Archaeology.But the eminent British historian, Peter Barton, has confirmed that Mr Vandewalle’s concerns have been reported formally to British and Australian authorities.”Johan Vandewalle has been advising me of his concerns since he was first called to the site in early June to organise drainage and weatherproofing,” he said. ”I am aware of his observations and also that, at their request for his impressions, he notified the Australian authorities. In this knowledge, I brought the matter before the [British] parliamentary group at the mid-July meeting.”Mr Barton was the official project historian and has produced two reports on the battle. He is also co-secretary of the British All Party Parliamentary War Graves and Battlefields Heritage Group chaired by Lord Roper.Yesterday he warned that a shift from an archaeological dig to a swift, cut-price recovery of human remains might have a serious impact on historical and archaeological practice in Europe.”This is the highest profile and most important World War I excavation since battlefield searches ceased in 1921. Everyone who played a key role in bringing the British Government on board was under the impression that those who tendered for the work were tendering for archaeology of the highest standard, not for a recovery exercise.”The parliamentary group saw this as a standard bearer for World World I archaeology. It seems bizarre that so much time, effort, care and money could be invested in the project to date only to downgrade requirements at the final, critical stage.”I am sure that archaeology was the public expectation in Australia and Europe. I know it was the expectation of the Parliamentary Group.”Mr Vandewalle’s chief anxiety is that the methods used to excavate – going deep into the centre of graves instead of working meticulously layer by layer, means there is no guarantee that every set of remains can be attributed to one individual.”I cannot believe they did not follow this archaeological procedure … this is not correct,” he reported. ”I had the feeling they asked for my advice and my experience but they did not respect this. They can show all sorts of sketches, prove all sorts of pictures but I still ask why did they go straight to the bottom before finishing up the top?”It was an honour when they asked me to bring my expertise. But they did not listen. I was disappointed to see on their website just last week that they were digging in grave four and went straight to the bottom. This work was not just about fixing the drainage or finding the marquee to protect from the water … it is about how you work and co-operation between experts is important … if you miss something, it is not respectful … this is the shame for me.”I do not want to create a problem. But these are young men, lying, all together, alone. They have to be taken out slowly; you need time and you need feeling – without feeling you can’t see it; you miss things.”We now know it is 300 men, not 400. So why do they have to save money if the job is smaller?”The Herald reported on July 6 that entry of water threatened to derail the dig, and compromise the men’s remains and surrounding artefacts. The tender requires exhuming all the men by next month ready for individual reinterment in a new cemetery next year.The Department of Defence denied the report. But remedial and emergency work led by Mr Vandewalle included rerouting groundwater and creating adequate drainage, new buttressing of grave walls to protect from water, and constructing wooden scaffolds to aid the excavation and erection of a specialised marquee, long term, to prevent further water entry and damage.All these works were explicitly stated as prerequisites in the tender document, a copy of which has been obtained by the Herald. The document says that “UK legislation, regulations and professional archaeological standards must be adhered to and met in all aspects of the contract”.The Herald reported last month that the losing tenders estimated the project cost at more than £2.4 million ($4.8 million). Oxford Archaeology promised to complete the project for about £1 million less at £1.4 million. smh南京夜网.au
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Man loses wife and four children in Victorian fire

A man who lost his wife and four children in a horrific house fire yesterday remains in hospital as police and fire investigators try to determine what sparked the inferno.Police today said it may be days before they can interview Aaron Holloway, 31, who was last night in a stable condition in Geelong Hospital, where he was treated for cuts and smoke inhalation.A Victoria Police spokeswoman said investigators were waiting for Mr Holloway’s condition to improve before interviewing him.His wife and four young children died early yesterday as a wall of flame raged through their Clifton Springs home on the Bellarine Peninsula.The blaze – which was fanned by gale-force winds and reduced the weatherboard and fibro-cement home to ashes – claimed the lives of Ash Holloway, 24, her sons Brodie, 3, Thomas, 2, and three-month-old twins Mackenzie and Cooper.Mr Holloway, a truck mechanic, was pulled over a fence to safety by a neighbour after escaping the blazing home.”He’s hurt and he’s in pain,” Mr Holloway’s mother, Debbie, told Channel Nine outside Geelong Hospital yesterday.Yesterday puffs of smoke wafted sporadically as experts sifted through the ashes of what was once a family home. Members of the disaster victim identification team worked alongside the police arson squad.But locals were already grieving for a family they knew.Alfred Terrill, 72, who lives across the road from the burnt-out Jetty Road house, heard a woman’s screams some time after 2am. When he went to investigate, he was stunned by the ferocity of the blaze.”There was a wall of flame and the wind was like a hurricane,” Mr Terrill told The Age.He had previously taken toys to the youngsters and said the family kept to themselves, and that Mr Holloway was a keen fisherman. His charred boat sat beside a scorched car on the ashes of the property.Mr Terrill said the young family had moved to the street about a year ago.The force of the fire and wind blew out windows of the brick-veneer home next door, while embers from the blaze started a small fire in a nearby home later in the day.A neighbour at the rear of the house said the fire was ”going full bore” when he went to see what was going on.”We doused the fence with the hose, but she was fully going and it was blowing a northerly. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life; it was wild,” said the neighbour, who gave his name only as Garry.Friends arrived to see if what they had heard was true in the quiet bayside town, and left weeping in the constant drizzle.”We were all pretty close … we only saw each other last week. She was a nice girl and a good mum to those kids,” one friend said.She said Mr Holloway had suffered a leg injury after he was pulled from the fire, while another woman said he had broken a window to escape.Detective Sergeant John Dimos of the crime department said police would interview him as soon as they were able. The cause of the fire had yet to be determined. theage南京夜网.au
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