Australian car manufacturing ends as GM Holden closes plant

The last mass-produced car designed and built in Australia rolled off General Motors’s production line in the industrial city of Adelaide on Friday, October 20. Above, the company’s Adelaide plant. (General Motors Holden via AP)
Updated 20 October 2017
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Australian car manufacturing ends as GM Holden closes plant

SYDNEY: Australia’s near 100-year automotive industry ended on Friday as GM Holden, a unit of US carmaker General Motors, closed its plant in South Australia to move manufacturing to cheaper locations.
The closure comes a year after Toyota and Ford similarly moved out, eliminating thousands of manufacturing jobs. It adds pressure on the government to help those made redundant find work in a battleground state ahead of a federal election in 18 months.
“The end of Holden making cars in Australia is a very sad day for the workers and for every Australian. It is the end of an era,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters at a regular briefing on Friday. “Everyone has a Holden story.”
Turnbull has sought to soften the impact of a declining automotive industry in a state which historically determines who forms government by making South Australia a defense industry hub.
The government plans to increase defense spending by nearly A$30 billion by 2022, with the manufacture of a fleet of frigates, armored personnel carriers and submarines to be concentrated in South Australia.
But John Camillo, ‎state secretary at Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union in South Australia, said nearly 2,500 newly unemployed will need government help finding work.
“They need to be retrained to be able to work in defense, mining, aerospace, because we are going to be building ships,” Camillo told reporters outside the GM Holden plant in Elizabeth, 26 kilometers north of state capital Adelaide.
Camillo was joined outside the factory by hundreds of workers and car enthusiasts who had gathered to greet the last car off the production line.
Rising discretionary income and record-low interest rates have encouraged consumers to buy new cars, but many turned against the large passenger cars for which GM Holden is known.
“Consumers want fuel-efficient small cars and sports utility vehicles (SUVs), and overseas manufacturers have been able to profit from changing tastes,” William McGregor, industry analyst at ‎IBISWorld, told Reuters.
Monthly SUV sales hit a record in June, surpassing 40,000 cars, Bureau of Statistics data showed.
GM Holden, whose SUV range proved unpopular with Australians, will shift production to Germany where advanced automation will help keep costs low as it revamps its lineup.
GM Holden began auto production in 1948 with then-Prime Minister Ben Chifley driving the first car off the production line, declaring it “a beauty.”
“I have bought four of them,” said Shane Oliver, an AMP Capital economist who described the closure as a “sad day.”
“But it’s clear that not enough Australians’ agreed, opting for foreign-made SUVs instead.”


Saudi Arabia’s Maaden signs MoU with GE to discuss digital cooperation in mining sector

Updated 20 July 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s Maaden signs MoU with GE to discuss digital cooperation in mining sector

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) signed a strategic memorandum of understanding (MoU) with General Electric (GE) on Thursday, which focused on exploring possible opportunities to support digital transformation in the industrial sector.
The two sides discussed opportunities for cooperation in advanced technical solutions that included the entire chain of Maaden’s mining operations, including activities at gold, copper, aluminum and phosphate sites.
The MoU includes utilizing GE’s technological expertise and modern applications in digital transformation, with Maaden to lead the company’s digital transformation programs.
The agreement is part of Maaden’s drive to partner with leading technology and digital solutions to leverage opportunities in technological innovation and the modern digital revolution, invest in leading technologies in its operations around the Kingdom, and enhance the company’s competitiveness as a major company in the mining sector both regionally and globally.
Maaden’s digital mining solutions will improve the company’s business by improving energy costs, enhancing reliability and efficiency of performance and productivity, while improving maintenance costs.
“The Kingdom is at the forefront of the digital transformation efforts in the industrial sector in the region with an ambitious vision. We are proud to support these ambitious visions and meet their goals,” said Darren Davis, Maaden Chief Executive Officer.
Davis stressed that a sustainable mining sector is one of the key pillars of the national economy, saying: “We are confident that our partnership with GE will be a qualitative leap toward achieving these goals and enhancing our competitiveness and sustainability through effective digital industrial solutions.”
“We are keen to build constructive partnerships with the industrial sector around the world to deliver innovative digital solutions that support operations.
“Major companies such as Maaden are of immense importance, and we recognize the impact of improved operations and enhancements,” said GE CEO Bill Roh, referring to its efficiency over other companies, and the Saudi economy as a whole.
“By collaborating to develop industry-specific and environment-friendly solutions in which Maaden manages its operations, we are moving toward achieving the desired digital transformation plans that we believe will deliver significant positive results,” added Roh.
The MoU aims to achieve the goals of Maaden, a pioneer in the Saudi mining sector, to accelerate the digital transformation of the Saudi mining sector, in line with the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
Maaden is working to take advantage of digital and technological transformation strategies and maximize its impact on all the company’s activities and products.
The construction of the largest 450-km treated water pipeline from Taif to support the company’s mining operations in the region, as well as the creation of artificial lakes in Ras Al-Khair for recycling water for industrial uses, are among the most prominent projects that reflect the company’s commitment to sustainability and achieving solutions, in addition to innovation and sustained economic growth, creating a professional environment that enhances talent capabilities, and ensuring the best service for communities within their professional fields.