Frequently asked questions

Kurri plant
Why has the full closure decision been made?

The smelter was placed into 'care and maintenance' mode in late 2012, as Hydro considered its options for the site. Due to factors including the global market and market price for aluminium, the value of the Australian dollar and the running costs for a smelter of this type, Hydro has decided that manufacturing aluminium at this smelter is not viable, and announced the full closure of the site in May 2014. This now allows the demolition, remediation, and redevelopment of the site to be planned, and planning is underway.

Will the smelter be demolished?

After considerable planning, preparation, investigations and approvals from the NSW Government, demolition of the smelter will occur. The overall process is likely to take several years and Hydro will keep the community and other stakeholders informed about timeframes and other activities.

More information on this subject is located under Demolition and Remediation and it will be updated as new information is available.

What will happen to the site in the future?

Hydro has been conducting a variety of environmental and other investigations on the site, and considering potential future options for the smelter site and associated buffer land.

Proposed future use of the smelter site is for employment land, while plans for the large buffer zone include residential development, continued rural use and the conservation of a large proportion of the site that contains valuable biodiversity.

More information on this subject is located under Rezoning and it will be updated as new information is available.

Is residential development planned?

Hydro is proposing to rezone parts of the land to allow residential development within the eastern area of the buffer land. Approval for rezoning is required from both Cessnock City Council and Maitland City Council. Separate Development Applications (DAs) would then be required for any residential development in these areas.

This process is likely to take some years to be realised.

More information on this subject is located under Rezoning and it will be updated as new information is available.

Is there contaminated land on the site?

There are several areas making up a quite small proportion of the overall site that are 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.


In August 2014, Hydro submitted a Preliminary Environmental Assessment to the NSW Department of Planning 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 Project site suitable for future use and achieve Hydro’s commitment to meeting its corporate environmental and social responsibilities, and to managing its environmental legacies.


More information on this subject is located under Demolition and Remediation and it will be updated as new information is available.

What will happen to the Kurri Kurri Speedway and Junior Motorcycle Club?

We have recently (March 2014) renewed the lease for the Kurri Kurri Speedway and the Junior Motorcycle Club for another two years. Decisions beyond that time frame will be made later, and we will consult with the groups and the community during the decision making process.

Is it likely that the site will become a hospital?

This is highly unlikely. The NSW Government has earmarked a site at Metford for its next hospital site.

How can I stay up to date with what is happening?

There are a number of ways to stay informed about and provide input into what is happening and what is being planned at the site.

New web pages on the Hydro web site

A community information email address

A community telephone line 1800 066 243 has been set up for community enquiries.

Letters and newsletters which will be sent to neighbours and other interested stakeholders,

A Community Reference Group (CRG) has been set up 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.

The CRG members are:

  • Mr Richard Brown – Managing Director, Hydro Kurri Kurri
  • Mr Kerry McNaughton – Environmental Officer, Hydro Kurri Kurri
  • Clr Arch Humphery – Maitland City Council
  • Clr Morgan Campbell – Cessnock City Council
  • Mr Ian Shillington – Manager Urban Growth, Maitland City Council
  • Mr Ian Turnbull – Manager Natural Environment Planning, Cessnock City Council
  • Mr Rod Doherty – President Kurri Kurri Business Chamber
  • Mr Colin Maybury – Kurri Kurri Landcare Group
  • Ms Debra Ford – Community representative
  • Mr Alan Gray – Community representative
  • Mr Brad Wood – Community representative
  • Mr Andrew Walker – Hydro Kurri Kurri
  • Mr Bill Metcalfe – Community representative
  • Mr Toby Thomas – Community representative
  • Mrs Kerry Hallett - Hunter Business Enterprise Centre

The CRG members are encouraged to provide information about the project to interested community members. Minutes from CRG meetings are available on the web site.

Why do you want to put all the contaminated waste into an on-site containment cell?

Hydro has been looking at the issue of what to do with both contaminated and other waste for some time, and has taken advice from a variety of environmental consultants. We have looked at several options for waste management and remediation for the site, and assessed those options against the criteria below:

  • Risk
  • Legacy
  • Timeframe
  • Permissibility
  • Economic viability
  • Environmental outcome for site
  • Corporate social responsibility

The on-site containment cell option was the option that best met the requirements of all of the above criteria. Note that the project is classed as “State significant” and will be subject to a rigorous government assessment and approval process.

What is a containment cell?

Containment cells are current best-practice for the management of many contaminated waste materials. They are engineered to a very high standard to capture any produced gas, to prevent leakage, and also have built-in leakage detection systems, and methods for capturing leakage if it was to occur.

On site containment has been used around the world and locally, in areas such as Sydney Olympic Park at Homebush Bay, at the former Pasminco smelter at Cockle Creek, , the former BHP site at Mayfield, at Charlestown in Lake Macquarie, and Carrington in Newcastle.

Updated: October 11, 2016