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Metal Casting Technologies : December 2008
BRIEFINGS New code to help make Australia’s Victorian foundries safer Australia’s WorkSafe Victoria has released a new Compliance Code for foundries which provides practical guidance to those who have duties or obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act or Regulations. The code is aimed at employers, managers and the self-employed in foundries, and gives advice on foundry specific hazards such as heat stress, burns, working with molten metal as well as slips, trips and falls. WorkSafe’s Executive Director of Health and Safety, John Merritt said: “The code was developed after extensive consultation with the foundry industry, employers, employees, governmental agencies and the community to provide greater certainty about what constitutes compliance under the OHS Act.” “The code includes practical guidance, tools and checklists to make it easier for duty-holders to fulfil their legal obligations.” Mr Merritt added that: “The code will provide Victorian employers, workers and Health and Safety Representatives with certainty and assistance in meeting their responsibilities.” Copies of the Compliance Codes are available online at www.worksafe.vic. gov.au. This foundries Compliance Code replaces the existing foundries Code of Practice No. 2 (1988). MTEC workshop on mechanical properties of castings Although its main focus is on R&D in materials, MTEC – the National Metals & Materials Technology Centre in Thailand offers a range of training programmes for both the academic and industrial sectors. A recent event, on 26th August 2008, held at the Thailand Science Park 20 www.metals.rala.com.au As part of the practical activities of the mechanical properties training, FERDU engineers demonstrate the use of an automatic pouring unit in producing reliable test bars from Al melts. was a seminar and workshop on the mechanical properties of castings which was attended by 32 delegates from Thai metal casting companies. The seminar was organized by FERDU - the Foundry Engineering R&D Unit at MTEC to help engineers and technicians, particularly from the smaller non joint venture Thai casting producers, understand the factors that influence the mechanical behaviour of their products. The preparation of suitable and reliable test bars and the interpretation of test bar properties formed a key part of the course. China steel mills downturn Visitors to the new steel town of East Horse Village, in the north eastern city of Tangshan, will encounter something that has been virtually alien to China’s thriving industrial centers in the last five years: despair. The largest mill in town, a three-year- old producer with 2,600 workers, has been shut down since September just weeks after doubling its capacity. Most of the neighbouring small mills employing several hundred workers each have also been shuttered for more than a month, including at least three that were built in the last year on what had been the relentless optimism of the Chinese economic boom. In the surrounding Fengrun district of Tangshan, a city of 3 million that is the foremost of China’s steel hubs, dozens of mills have shut down. Many of them are stuck with inventories of iron ore purchased at peak prices. A precipitous fall in steel prices more than 40% since their June peak of $870 a ton has crippled the Chinese steel sector, forcing the large state-owned (but often listed) companies to cut back production by at least 20% and throwing the fates of many smaller mills and potentially thousands of workers into question. Domestically China gobbles up more than triple the tonnage of steel it did seven years ago, and China’s share of global steel production and demand have both roughly doubled since 2000. The country consumes more than a third of the global total and produces two- fifths of the world’s stock. It’s the leading steel exporter. The crash in Chinese steel has, in just a few months, sent spot iron ore prices spiraling downward by more than half and has collapsed freight rates to China by 80%. If there is to be a turnaround, China may have to lead it with rising demand, just as it has led the bust. The problem is that the entire Chinese economy is slowing down, growing at only a 9% clip in the third quarter, the slowest rate since China was hit with SARS five years ago.