Future of Coalcliff Cokeworks site up in air

The Illawarra Coke Company is yet to decide what will become of its 99-year-old Coalcliff Cokeworks site after the plant shuts down in mid-2013.

The Coalcliff Cokeworks will shut from mid-2013 and the land will be remediated. Picture: KEN ROBERTSON

The Coalcliff Cokeworks will shut from mid-2013 and the land will be remediated. Picture: KEN ROBERTSON

Managing director Rex Wright said it was yet to consider its options once the land was remediated and nothing had been ruled in or out.

"We've been totally focused on the decision we've had to come to in relation to the cokeworks here and we really haven't given any thought to what we might do with the site."

Possibilities such as developing parts of the 115-hectare property might be limited because of its location and layout, while residential uses would require the land to be rezoned.

"It's all hypothetical at this stage," Mr Wright said.

"As you can appreciate we've got the escarpment here, we've got a creek running through it, we've got a railway line up the middle of it, so all these things restrict your ability to do a lot with the site.

"So until we sit down with consultants and others, and that will be some time in the future, we don't really know what we're going to do to be honest."

Mr Wright said the amount of money the company could get from any future use of the Coalcliff or Corrimal cokeworks had not been a factor in the decision.

"We made a business decision, it was not a real estate play. We own both sites and we want to continue producing coke which we can do profitably from one site and more so from Corrimal than at Coalcliff."

Factors included the fact that there was more ground movement at Coalcliff, while the site was also more spread out.

"So all the infrastructure is much more expensive to maintain, and then also we've got that it's double the distance from the port where we send all our coke out through," he said.

The additional distance to truck coke to Port Kembla cost about $500,000 per year.

The Coalcliff site's working life dates back to 1878 when a colliery opened. The cokeworks itself began operating in 1914.

Despite the long history, Mr Wright said he did not envisage any major remediation problems.

Environmental laws meant the company would ensure there was no contamination or contaminated run-off and make sure soil samples complied with regulations.

"Over the years there, there has been a lot of rehabilitation work done, since the mine closed in particular in 1991," Mr Wright said.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority said it would meet the company early next year "to further discuss the closure process and any environmental requirements that need to be satisfied, including issues of contamination".

Mr Wright expected to start considering what to do with the site after the shutdown.


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