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Political leaders look to save Arrium jobs

State and federal leaders remain hopeful jobs can be saved at the Whyalla steelworks after troubled steel and mining group Arrium entered administration.

But Industry Minister Christopher Pyne has talked down the prospects of a taxpayer-funded bailout, which he described as a "very blunt instrument" when the government had other levers to help the company.

Neither the company nor the administrator had asked the government for direct assistance, Mr Pyne added.

"They have asked us to help them not be injured by unfair foreign competition and we've done that," he told reporters on Thursday.

Thousands of workers at Whyalla, as well as in NSW, Queensland and Victoria, are facing an uncertain future after Arrium succumbed to financial pressures and appointed administrators.

Mr Pyne and South Australian treasurer Tom Koutsantonis will meet with the administrators in Adelaide on Friday.

Both have urged Arrium's lenders, including the big four banks, to allow the steel and mining group to trade its way out of difficulties.

"The surest way for the banks to receive their money back from Arrium, the $2.8 billion that they owe their creditors, is for Arrium to trade out of its difficulties," Mr Pyne said.

Mr Koutsantonis said the Whyalla steelworks would continue to operate while the administrators took charge of the operations.

"Panic is not an option here," he told reporters.

"There will be no new redundancies at Whyalla. All employees across the country will be required to report to work as usual and will be paid."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten urged Arrium's board and its lenders to resolve their differences in the interests of workers.

"Clearly there is quite a dysfunctional relationship at that level," he told reporters.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon said Arrium's struggles were a direct consequence of the policy failures of successive governments.

"I'm angry that it has come to this because what has happened was avoidable," he told AAP.

"Prime Minister Turnbull can turn this around at the stroke of a pen by insisting that not one cent of Australian taxpayers' money for these infrastructure projects will be spent unless the economic effects of a procurement decision are considered."