Site remediation, Newcastle

Former industrial land, rehabilitated to unlock future use.

In 2022, HCCDC completed the rehabilitation and remediation of two former BHP Steelworks sites around the Port of Newcastle, marking a major milestone in the city's transformation. 

Since the early 2000s, we have worked on behalf of the NSW Government to remediate and rehabilitate the 212-hectares of land, including a former steelworks site at Mayfield, and its associated landfill site at Kooragang Island.

The $160 million project included significant works and infrastructure to contain contaminants, and protect the surrounding environment.

The recent completion of the works unlocks new opportunities for site re-use and employment generation. Kooragang Island is part of the Port of Newcastle's new Clean Energy Precinct.

Mayfield Steelworks 

The $110 million remediation of BHP's 150-hectare steelworks site at Mayfield was formally completed in 2019. Our works involved a range of projects to contain or remove contaminants, and return the land to a productive state.

This included a 1.4km long x 50m deep underground ‘barrier wall’ (the deepest such wall in the world) to reduce groundwater flow toward the Hunter River; low permeability capping, reducing infiltration of rainwater; new major stormwater drains; and demolition and land forming.

The former steelworks rehabilitation is one of the biggest and most important remediation projects in Newcastle’s history - acknowledged with a 2016 NSW Premier’s Award for protecting the environment.

Kooragang Island 

In 2022 we completed the remediation works of the 62-hectare former landfill site that once received BHP steelworks waste. 

The project included major civil works, in collaboration with a specialist team of scientists and engineers, to solve complex problems and develop innovative strategies for repairing the former industrial lands.

The environmentally sensitive site is situated near the Hunter Estuary Wetlands, and the works were designed sympathetically to the sites native environment. This included restabilising the wetlands by establishing new vegetation and replanting native grasses, redirecting surface water flow, and providing a healthy habitat for protecting the sites endangered frog species.

Former steelworks' site history

The former BHP Steelworks was founded on one of Australia’s oldest industrial sites. 

The steelworks was vital to the regional and national economies during its 84 years of operation, employing thousands of people and producing millions of tonnes of steel each year for distribution around Australia and overseas.

The Mayfield land has a rich industrial heritage with the steelworks operating from 1915 until it's closure in 1999; and prior to this being used as a Copper smelter, commencing circa 1870.

This long industrial history gave rise to contaminated soil and groundwater right across the site, and following the steelworks' closure the land was transferred from BHP to the NSW Government for management of the land assets and remediation of the site in line with Environment Protection Authority (EPA) requirements.

The remediation was delivered over numerous design and capital works stages spanning more than a decade; returning the land to a suitable state for future re-use.

The remediated Mayfield site includes memorials dedicated to those who worked at the former steelworks.

The first, called Muster Point, is a large steel art installation paying tribute to the steel-working skills of the BHP workers.

Another memorial installation was unveiled at the centenary of the plant’s official opening on 2 June 1915, paying tribute to those who lost their lives at the steelworks. The sculpture is a moving ‘’mourning circle’’ produced by Branxton artist and blacksmith Will Maguire.

Awarded for protecting the environment

The environmental outcomes delivered through the complex remediation works have been recognised with high accolades including a Civil Contractors Federation of NSW 'Earth Award' for Daracon Group's work as head contractor for the remediation of Kooragang Island; and a NSW Premier’s Award in 2016 for protecting the environment.

Ecological solutions

We collaborated with ecology specialists to restore the native vegetation at Kooragang Island, and provide a habitat that has become a refuge for frogs, insects and other native species. 

The land regeneration and restoration included replanting the site with native grasses germinated from locally harvested seeds, working with native species to provide optimum ecological and sustainability outcomes.

Protecting endangered species 

We worked with the University of Newcastle's wildlife ecologists to protect the endangered Green and Golden Bell Frog (Litoria aurea) that inhabit Kooragang Island.

Innovative solutions to provide a healthy habitat for foraging and breeding included providing refuge ponds for drought conditions, automated irrigation systems, and creating bespoke migratory corridors with ‘frog-friendly’ fencing.

Project approval documents and management plans

Kooragang Island Waste Emplacement Facility (KIWEF)

KIWEF Area 2 closure works

In accordance with the requirements of the Commonwealth Approval (2016/7670, dated 22 March 2019), condition 13 requires that all plans associated with the approved action are to be published. The relevant plans referred to within the KIWEF Area 2 Closure Works Commonwealth Approval are provided below:

  1. Decision on Approval Letter : EPBC Ref 2016/7670, 22.03.19 (PDF, 120 KB)
  2. Notice of Conditions of Approval : EPBC Ref 2016/7670, 22.0319 (PDF, 1.35 MB)
  3. 2016/7670 Attachment A, Map 1 – The Proposed Action Footprint (PDF, 1.52 MB)
  4. 2016/7670 Attachment A, Map 2 – Known and Potential GGBF Habitat (PDF, 13.13 MB)
  5. 2016/7670 Attachment A, Map 3 – KIWEF Surrender Notice Boundary (PDF, 14.58 MB)
  6. KIWEF Area 2 Closure Works, Preliminary Documentation Package (PDF, 121.04 MB)
  7. Revegetation Management Plan (PDF, 91 KB)
  8. Water Quality Management Plan (PDF, 286 KB)
  9. KIWEF Area 2 Closure Works, Construction Environmental Management Framework (PDF, 1 MB)
  10. KIWEF GGBF Management Plan (PDF, 1.68 MB)

The Annual Compliance Reports required by condition 15 of Commonwealth Approval 2016/7670 are provided below:

  1. Annual Compliance Report 2019-2020 : EPBC 2016/7670 (PDF, 7.61 MB)
  2. Annual Compliance Report 2020-2021 : EPBC 2016/7670 (PDF, 18.1 MB)
  3. Annual Compliance Report 2021-2022 : EPBC 2016/7670 (PDF, 16.73 MB)
  4. Annual Compliance Report 2022-2023 : EPBC 2016/7670 (PDF, 24.4 MB)

The Independent Audit Report of the Project Works Period required by condition 18 of Commonwealth Approval 2016/7670, is provided below:

  1. Independent Audit of EPBC Act Approval 2016/7670, KIWEF Area 2 Closure Works (PDF, 3.01 MB)

The project has also been assessed under relevant state legislation. The NSW assessment system approval documents include the following:

  1. Review of Environmental Factors - KIWEF Area 2 Closure Works (PDF, 9.82 MB)
  2. KIWEF Area 2 Closure Works – Addendum Review of Environmental Factors (PDF, 15.13 MB)

Our contractor for the project has compiled a Construction Environmental Management Plan that consolidates the various requirements to effectively manage and deliver the project. The contractors Plan is provided below:

  1. KIWEF Area 2 Closure Works, Construction Environmental Management Plan (PDF, 1.74 MB)
KIWEF Eastern ponds closure works

The Eastern Ponds closure works comprises the final stage of closure of the former KIWEF landfill. The works, including the capping and rehabilitation of a 4-hectare portion of the site were assessed against State and Commonwealth environmental legislation.

Approval assessment documents:

  1. KIWEF Eastern Ponds Closure Works, EPBC Act Self-Assessment (PDF, 2.9 MB)
  2. KIWEF Eastern Ponds Closure Works, Review of Environmental Factors (PDF, 3.54 MB)
  3. Addendum – Exclusion fence monitoring and consideration of assessments of significance for GGBF (PDF, 233 KB)
  4. KIWEF Eastern Ponds Closure Works – Contractor Environmental Management Framework (PDF, 247 KB)