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About the Project

Port Kembla Copper (PKC) is working with the community as it prepares to exit the former copper smelter located on Military Road, Port Kembla. 

Copper smelting occurred at the site for around 100 years, mainly by former long-term smelter owners and operators. Prior to PKC’s operations environmental controls were limited and significantly less effective. The potential for metal contamination is associated with the historical operation of the copper smelter, prior to PKC’s operations.

PKC purchased the smelter in 1997 and introduced approximately $1 billion dollars of new equipment and process upgrades – to bring the site’s operations to contemporary standards. PKC operated the smelter from 2000 to 2003, when it permanently closed operations. As the most recent operator, PKC has worked to assess and manage the contamination issues on the site, and this task is nearly complete. PKC is now working with the community to understand and responsibly address the legacy of previous historic smelter operations on land surrounding the former smelter and to identify if any remediation is required.

PKC intends to make the site suitable for future industrial use, consistent with the zoning of the land. 


PKC intends to make the site suitable for future industrial use, consistent with the zoning of the land.


What is happening now?

PKC has engaged expert environmental consulting firm Senversa to identify areas of Port Kembla that may have been affected by historical operation of the copper smelter. 

Senversa applied an industry best-practice approach to establish an area of investigation, including detailed research and literature reviews, and then conducted testing of more than 85 soil samples collected from public areas across Port Kembla. The results of this soil testing allowed Senversa to identify an area of Port Kembla for further investigation. This area is shown in the figure located here:

New PKC Map.png

Senversa has developed a testing plan for the areas of Port Kembla identified for further assessment. The plan has been prepared in consultation with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), NSW Health, Wollongong City Council (Council) and an independent expert EPA accredited Site Auditor and involves additional testing in public space and some testing in private properties.

Around 30 private properties have been identified for testing as part of the further investigations. These have been chosen as they represent a range of property ages, types and locations. Schools and day care centres within the further assessment area are also proposed for testing. Representatives will approach the owners and occupiers of these properties directly and request permission to conduct testing. Testing will only occur with the written permission of property owners and occupants (in the case of rented properties or school administrators).

Once the results from this testing are received, PKC will work with the EPA, NSW Health, Council, individual property owners and occupants, and the independent expert Site Auditor to develop a plan for any additional testing, and for remediation if test results identify a need. From the start of testing in private properties, this process will take between three and six months. 

Council/EPA literature review into pollution in Port Kembla

Wollongong City Council and EPA have recently released a review of existing research on legacy contamination in Port Kembla (also known as the UniQuest report). This report draws on publicly available information and did not involve any sampling of individual properties.

PKC has welcomed the release of the UniQuest report, to help increase understanding of historic contamination as a result of prior industrial activity in Port Kembla. PKC’s own detailed research and literature reviews, collection and testing of more than 85 soil samples from public open spaces in Port Kembla has shown similar results to the UniQuest report.


The work PKC is now doing to test individual properties, and determine whether remediation is required, is the next step in identifying and managing legacy contamination associated with previous historic smelter operations in Port Kembla.

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