After more than 100 years of coke production, the Corrimal Cokeworks is closing its doors.
The Illawarra Coke Company (ICC) told employees today that the cokeworks, the oldest continuous coke-making operation in the world, would cease production next year.
The closure comes just months after ICC closed its Coalcliff Cokeworks in June.
The company blamed the latest closure, planned for the end of March or early April next year, on prolonged weakness in the global coke market, which shows no signs of improvement.
ICC chairman Tony Haggarty and ICC managing director Rex Wright told workers that despite reducing costs by closing the Coalcliff site, the continuing excess of coke worldwide, plus substantially reduced demand, had made the situation at Corrimal Cokeworks unsustainable.
“ICC has been battling negative market conditions for three years and despite every effort to maintain Corrimal Cokeworks as a viable business, our present cost base makes us uncompetitive in the current global market conditions,” Mr Wright said.
“We very much regret this decision but ICC is a small, privately owned company and, after exhausting all alternative options, the board has no responsible choice other than to permanently close Corrimal Cokeworks.”
Corrimal Cokeworks will continue at full production until early next year to fulfil customer orders.
All employees will receive their full entitlements including a redundancy payment.
Nineteen workers took voluntary redundancy earlier this year when the Coalcliff site shut.
Employees filed out of the gates for the last time at the end of June, with all remaining workers switching to the Corrimal operation.
The Corrimal Cokeworks officially opened on September 5, 1912.
In 1984, the Illawarra Coke Company bought the Corrimal Cokeworks, bringing it together with Coalcliff for the first time.
Twelve years later, in March 1996, ICC Holdings purchased Illawarra Coke Company, and took charge of both Coalcliff and Corrimal.
The location of the Corrimal plant has been a sore spot for some, with residents complaining of pollution.
A class-action lawsuit was considered but came to nothing.
However, the coke company was called before the Land and Environment Court on at least one occasion over the Corrimal site and the Environment Protection Authority had cause to test emission levels on another occasion.