WA Labor’s bold plan to boost iron ore rail car manufacturing

Posted on February 21, 2021
  • Hundreds of new jobs to be created as part of new manufacturing plan
  • Under the plan, iron ore railcar components would be manufactured locally
  • Part of WA Jobs Plan to create 125,000 Western Australian jobs
  • $15 million Local Manufacturing Investment Fund will be established
  • New industry could manufacture around 300,000 rail components annually – a huge opportunity for WA
  • Builds on McGowan Labor Government’s manufacturing renaissance, with METRONET railcars

A re-elected McGowan Labor Government will create hundreds of new jobs by driving local manufacturing of critical iron ore wagon components as part of the WA Jobs Plan.

Western Australia is the world’s leading producer of iron ore, exporting 794 million tonnes in 2018-19. The ore is mainly transported to port via rail in 32,000 iron ore wagons, which require extensive replacement of parts over their 25–30 year lifespan.

It is estimated that approximately 300,000 individual components will be required per year for 25–30 years.

The initiative will include the establishment of a $15 million Local Manufacturing Investment Fund to help WA manufacturers re-tool their workshops with world class technology to manufacture rail wagon parts and undertake research and development on innovative manufacturing techniques.

It will also include the development of an Integrated Supply Chain Plan that identifies critical rail wagon parts and their manufacturing requirements, and matches them with the technology, skills and workforce development options required to manufacture in WA.

This will also allow local businesses to bid for the future manufacturing of small batches of iron ore wagons and major periodic overhauls of bogies and wheelsets and will position the industry to bid for iron ore wagon orders in the future.

In addition to keeping TAFE fees low for relevant courses so that industry has the skilled workers it needs, a re-elected McGowan Labor Government will work with the Commonwealth to ensure industry can access the $1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Initiative.

Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:

“Local manufacturing is at the forefront of our WA Jobs Plan to secure WA’s future and keep our economy strong.

“This initiative will not only create hundreds of new jobs for Western Australians, it will also reduce the exposure to international supply chains for parts and equipment.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of local supply chains, and we have a golden opportunity to manufacture critical components right here in WA to service the iron ore industry.

“Over the past four years, my government has made local manufacturing a priority. We’ve brought back manufacturing of railcars for the first time in years, ignited our defence manufacturing industry and put manufacturing front and centre at TAFEs across the State.

“My Government will continue to drive WA’s manufacturing renaissance – we are well placed to grow our local industry even further and build a stable pipeline of work in the long term.

“This policy will also help position the industry to be able bid for the manufacturing of railcars for new resource projects or expansion projects in the future – an incredible opportunity.

“Due to the fact that the industry has already purchased the vast majority of their railcar stock offshore, the manufacture of railcar wagons is a longer term goal.

“Western Australia has the skills and capability to manufacture critical parts in the short term and this will position the industry to bid for future orders of railcars, and that’s what will happen under a re-elected WA Labor Government.”