Boolaroo bonanza: IKEA, Costco land deals 'back on the table'

21st August 2019

A bill is expected to be passed through NSW parliament this week for the compulsory acquisition of the 92 hectares and its containment cell from the smelter's administrator Ferrier Hodgson, that merged with KPMG earlier this year.

Property Minister Melinda Pavey introduced the Lake Macquarie Smelter Site (Perpetual Care of Land) Bill on Tuesday afternoon.

It will be fast-tracked through the lower and upper house with bipartisan support. The acquisition is expected to cost taxpayers millions.

The government has estimated it will cost $67 million for the long-term maintenance and monitoring of the 45-metre-deep containment cell, that holds 1.9 million cubic metres of hazardous material, a water treatment plant and other contaminated land.

Ferrier Hodgson has previously said it expected to raise $57.7 million in land sales at Boolaroo.

It is understood the government acquisition will put previous expressions of interest from IKEA and Costco for land back on the table.

The acquisition will see the overall site transferred to Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation, which will then oversee the sale of parcels of land to those that had prior options with Pasminco Cockle Creek Smelter (PCCS), the company set up by the smelter's administrator, Ferrier Hodgson.


Ms Pavey said the bill would "ensure the land at the site of the former lead and zinc smelter ... is managed properly in perpetuity".

"This will reduce any risk to the environment and the community from residual contamination produced over the 100 years or more of the smelter's operation," she said in state parliament.

Operations at the site ceased in 2003 and remediation works have taken place in the years since. But the site has been effectively frozen from further development under the administrator.

"The NSW government is stepping in to break a stalemate and bring significant benefits to the Lake Macquarie community," Minister Pavey said in a press release.

Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper said the bill lifts "more than a decade of doom and gloom over the area". 

This deal will see Boolaroo become an economic powerhouse.

Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper

Ms Pavey said Pasminco would be soon be placed in liquidation, and it was therefore "inevitable" responsibility for the "long-term management of the containment cell and other land will devolve to the government".

She said the site's containment cell spanned 20 hectares and now contained 1.9 million cubic metres of material, and had associated infrastructure including a water treatment plan.

"The cell and water treatment plant will require an ongoing maintenance and repair or replacement of components in the longer term including, potentially, the capping of the cell," she said. 

"There are other areas of the former smelter site, such as Munibung Hill, that are now rezoned for environmental conservation and also require an ongoing environmental management."

She said understanding "the government reasons for acquiring this site" required reflection on its history.

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