Skip to content

Frequently asked questions

Exterior of factory buildings being demolished

The smelter was placed into 'care and maintenance' mode in late 2012 as Hydro considered its options for the site. Due to factors such as the global market and market price for aluminium, the value of the Australian dollar, and running costs, for a smelter of this type, Hydro decided that manufacturing aluminium at this smelter was no longer viable and announced the full closure of the site in May 2014. This decision allowed for the demolition, remediation, and redevelopment of the site, to enable future opportunities for the land, and the region.

Most of the site demolition has now occurred, with the full remediation of the site awaiting final approval, that we expect soon.

More information on this subject is located on our Demolition and remediation page, which will be updated as new information becomes available.

It is proposed that the smelter site will be rezoned for employment land (industrial/business), while the large buffer zone will include residential development, and the conservation of a large proportion of the site that contains valuable biodiversity.

The proposals will progress to the next stage with consultation and public exhibition for community feedback undertaken. Rezoning will be managed concurrently by both councils. However, the Department of Planning and Environment (DP&E) has set a condition that the biodiversity certification must be resolved prior to a final decision on rezoning, and this is underway.

More information on this subject is located on our Rezoning page, which will be updated as new information becomes available.

Proposals to rezone some of the land along Cessnock Road in the smelter’s buffer zone from rural to residential were submitted to and endorsed by both Cessnock City Council and Maitland City Council in 2015. The rezoning process is continuing.

Hydro is not a land developer so is in the process of selling the land to the McCloy-Stevens Group to allow the residential development to progress.

More information on this subject is located on our Rezoning page, which will be updated as new information becomes available.

Hydro has renewed the leases for both the Kurri Kurri Speedway and the Junior Motorcycle Club. The leases are open ended, as any future arrangements will need to be put in place with the new owner in due course.

There are several areas making up quite a small proportion of the overall site that were identified as containing contaminants. Hydro is committed to managing site contaminants so that they do not represent a risk to human health or the environment. We continue to work in consultation with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to manage the remediation of those areas.

Hydro submitted a Preliminary Environmental Assessment to the DP&E in August 2014 for the proposed demolition, remediation, and waste management activities as the first stage of Hydro’s strategic vision for the project site. The project will render the site suitable for future use and achieve Hydro’s commitment to meeting its corporate environmental and social responsibilities, and to managing its environmental legacies.

In November 2014, the DP&E issued the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs) for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The SEARs can be viewed here. Since then, Hydro has prepared the EIS which was exhibited between August and September 2016. A submissions report is currently being developed by Hydro and is expected to be complete later this year.

More information on this subject is located on our Demolition and remediation page, which will be updated as new information becomes available.

Yes. Though the major proportion of Hydro land is in great shape environmentally, there are small pockets in the buffer zone and material around the smelter site that are being remediated to enable future plans for the land to be realised. Following extensive consultation with key stakeholders, Hydro decided that site materials including concrete, metal and smelter wastes (such as spent pot lining) that can be recycled, will be, where it is reasonable and feasible to do so. Hydro is working with the EPA and the DP&E on a program of works to move contaminated material and wastes that cannot be reasonably or feasibly recycled into a purpose-designed containment cell.

The proposal to remediate the site required the development of an EIS. The EIS was placed on public exhibition in August and September 2016. The DP&E requires that all submissions from the public or other parties received during the exhibition period be addressed and this has been done. The Response to Submissions report is on the Department web site.

The affected land will be remediated to the satisfaction of the EPA and DP&E and with the oversight of an independent environmental auditor.

No. Following consultation with key stakeholders including the EPA and the general community, Hydro has developed a remediation strategy for the site that includes the construction of an engineered containment cell for non-recyclable wastes and contaminated material. Site materials including concrete, metal and smelter wastes (such as spent pot lining) that can be recycled, will be, where it is reasonable and feasible to do so.

A containment cell is a fully sealed container, engineered with multiple barrier layers, specifically designed to encapsulate and lock away waste material, prevent water from entering, and to minimise and capture any gas or leachate generated. Containment cells are current best-practice for the management of many wastes and contaminated materials around the world.

On-site containment has been used globally and locally to remediate contamination (including smelter wastes) and can be found in areas such as Sydney Olympic Park at Homebush Bay, the former Pasminco smelter at Cockle Creek, the former BHP site at Mayfield, at Charlestown in Lake Macquarie, and Carrington in Newcastle.

More information is available on our Demolition and remediation page, which will be updated as more information becomes available.

Hydro is committed to consulting with the community throughout the life of this project. The following are engagement tools we have established to help the community to stay informed about and provide input into what’s being planned and what is occurring at the site and encourage two-way communication:

  • Hydro website hydro.com/kurri
  • Community information email address kurri@hydro.com.au
  • Community telephone line 1800 066 243
  • YouTube Channel
  • Letters and newsletters sent to neighbours and other interested stakeholders
  • Community Reference Group (CRG) which meets regularly and acts as a liaison point between the community and the project. The group is made up of community representatives from Council, community groups, business groups and local residents. CRG members are encouraged to provide information about the project to interested community members. More information about the CRG is available on our Community Reference Group