Woodlawn mine site repurposing: Success factors, enablers and challenges

Sarah Holcombe
Illustrating the eco-precinct development

This infographic illustrates the gradual repurposing of Woodlawn open-cut copper-lead-zinc mine into a bio-reactor and associated eco-precinct over more than a decade. Mining stopped in 1998. Woodlawn is located 250km south of Sydney in regional New South Wales, close to transport infrastructure.

Note: The infographic presents information through scrolling and will slowly snap onto each slide.

This project emerged from the ‘Mining as a temporary land use: transitions and repurposing scoping study” as part of the Social Aspects of Mine Closure Consortium. The case study serves as an example of an innovative and sustainable land-use transition in an area once used solely for mining. While this transition was not led or funded by the mining industry, it is a successful contemporary example offering multiple lessons for mining industry-led or funded repurposing.

Starting from around the year 2000, part of the Woodlawn copper, lead, and zinc mine in regional NSW was repurposed into a bioreactor and associated “eco-precinct” over a 10-year period. This example was a brief case study in the Mine Closure Leading Practice Sustainable Development Program for the Mining Industry (Australian government 2016: 24-25).

Woodlawn is one of the largest and deepest purpose-built bioreactor landfill projects globally. As at 2019, the site was accepting approximately 40% of Sydney’s putrescible waste and is recognised as an example of best practice in the application of landfill technology. The project assists several Sydney Councils to meet their targets for reducing landfill, being located 250km south of Sydney. It has also expanded to take waste from Canberra and Goulburn.

Likewise, as the previous mine owners (Denehurst Ltd) left the site in receivership, little rehabilitation had occurred. As a result, site remediation and rehabilitation is also an integral aspect of this repurposing by the new owners – Veolia – over the proposed 60-year lifespan of their operation.

This case study, as an interconnected set of repurposing initiatives, offers a ready vehicle for the development of a prototype interactive operations map (graphical representation), that may be adapted to other case studies. 

Holcombe, Sarah (2020). Woodlawn Mine site repurposing: Success factors, enablers and challenges. Brisbane: Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining. The University of Queensland.

Woodlawn mine site repurposing: Success factors, enablers and challenges