Award for Urunga mine remediation

Presented by
  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

An aerial view of the Urunga Antimony Processing Plant Remediation project An aerial view of the Urunga Antimony Processing Plant Remediation project An aerial view of the Urunga Antimony Processing Plant Remediation project
NSW Soil Conservation Service project manager Clayton Colmer NSW Soil Conservation Service project manager Clayton Colmer NSW Soil Conservation Service project manager Clayton Colmer

The NSW Soil Conservation Service’s Urunga Antimony Processing Plant Remediation project, which we covered extensively last year, has won a Civil Contractors Federation NSW Earth Award in the $5 million to $10 million project value category.

Below is a full list of the winners, who will now go on to compete against the other states in November’s National Earth Awards.

Earthmovers & Excavators magazine Technical Editor Ron Horner was on site for much of the remediation project, and says the project  has set a new standard in toxic mine rehabilitation.

This is his take on the winning project:


World-class job

Last year I just happened to come across a construction site along the Pacific Highway south of Coffs Harbour on the Mid North Coast of NSW, where a few things caught my eye.

Large white ‘NSW Soil Conservation Service" banners surrounded the site and, as I had not much on my plate, I thought, "Why not investigate further and see what is going on inside the visual barriers?"

I introduced myself to project manager Clayton Colmer, who was more than accommodating and openly sat and discussed the issues confronting him.

He was contemplating the myriad difficulties in remediating the abandoned toxic mine site, which was previously used for processing stibnite (antimony ore).

During the processing vast amounts of antimony, arsenic, mercury, cyanide and phenolic acids (for treatment of antimony) were either produced or used in its treatment.

Not too big an issue until you realise it was located in a pristine waterway,  slowly killing off the native wetlands and creating higher than acceptable toxins to flow to the ocean. It was also located on a major highway, in a small beachside community and next to a preschool.

There was a high water table, a limited area to treat the 30,000 cubic metres of toxic material being extracted, and strict NSW Government Department of Primary Industry (Lands), WHS and EPA guidelines to be adhered to. And that’s not even getting to the budgeting constraints and the lack of any similar project to use as a guide.

Looking outside the box of convention has always intrigued me and it didn’t take long for Clayton, construction manager Jason Bashforth and I to see we all spoke the same language (albeit a generation apart) and our attention to perfection and detail was a common virtue.

These projects require: a level-headed, lateral-thinking leader with a very flexible approach to ensure a successful outcome; quality staff and contractors with a similar attitude; and specialised plant and equipment suited for a specific task.

This was one of those very interesting sites that I reckoned would generate a lot of interest during the construction phases. I reckoned the project and the equipment used was definitely worth reporting on. Click the links below to read our stories:






I tipped that if this $9 million project was rehabilitated to the extremely high standard spoken of during our meeting, free from any major WHS issue and completed within the stringent guidelines of the EPA, then it could well be in line for an Earth Award.

Everything in life has a balance … mining our valuable mineral resources in Australia usually means ‘dig it, crush it, transport it, sell it’. But we do have a further responsibility and that is to ‘fix it up.’

The NSW Soil Conservation Service has not only fixed this abandoned toxic environmental mess but has done it at world-class standards.

Well done, boys!

The Urunga crew accepting their award (from left): The Hon Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey, NSW Soil Conservation Service project manager Clayton Colmer, Peter Menzies of the NSWSCS, construction manager Jason Bashforth and Tim Donner of the NSWSCS


NSW Earth Awards winners

  • Category 1 (project value up to $1 million): Diona, Lismore City Council & Calibre Consulting for Caniaba Street Sewerage Pumping Station, Lismore
  • Category 2 ($1 million to $5 million): Waterway Constructions for Hawkesbury River Bridge, Pier 2 Concrete Repairs
  • Category 3 ($5 million to $10 million): NSW Soil Conservation Service for Urunga Antimony Processing Plant Remediation
  • Category 4 ($10 million to $30 million): SEE Civil for HW10 Pacific Highway Upgrade, Woolgoolga to Ballina
  • Category 5 ($30 million to $75 million): BMD Constructions for Olympic Highway Realignment – Kapooka Bridge
  • Category 6 (over $75 million): Fulton Hogan for WestConnex – King Georges Road Interchange upgrade


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