Supervising Scientist Report 114
Johnston J, Newman S and Needham S
Supervising Scientist, 1996
ISBN 0 642 24313 1
- SSR114 - The rehabilitation of derelict mining infrastructure along the Strahan foreshore, western Tasmania (PDF 2.85 MB)
A century of mining by the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company Limited (MLMRCL) at Queenstown has resulted in significant environmental impact around the town of Strahan on Macquarie Harbour. The effects range from the riverine disposal of tailings and slag, which has resulted in a 250 ha delta at the mouth of the King River in Macquarie Harbour, to the development of now derelict railway and port infrastructure on the harbour foreshore. Construction of MLMRCL facilities at Strahan resulted in significant land alteration, and has left a historical legacy, with many artefacts from the mining operations. The Mount Lyell Remediation, Research and Demonstration Program (MLRRDP) was designed to identify items of heritage value, carry out remediation works in key areas to rehabilitate areas associated with the mine operation, and generally clean up the area of derelict valueless material.
The community of Strahan, together with government agencies and businesses, was consulted over priorities for environmental clean-up of the harbour foreshore. The community emphasised the importance of maintaining and documenting the unique cultural heritage of the area.
The agreed work program included:
- an archaeological survey of the foreshore, to classify points of historic and cultural value;
- the rebuilding of the seawall at Memorial Park in order to halt the erosion of the area;
- the extension of the historic foreshore walkway, with removal and recycling of scrap metal from railway infrastructure; and
- the rehabilitation of the area around Pyrite Wharf, with pyritic (acid forming) material and refuse removed, the drainage channel strengthened and the remaining structures made safe.
The rehabilitation of Regatta Point Wharf was also highlighted by the community as a priority. However, the financial requirements and resources demanded by this project proved to be beyond the scope of the MLRRDP.
The archaeological survey detailed cultural heritage values and made recommendations for management, preservation and, where relevant, removal of features. An interpretative brochure was also produced in order to provide information on the many heritage items along the foreshore walkway.
As part of the strategy to maximise the benefits to the local community, some of the projects were carried out by a labour force recruited under the New Work Opportunities (NWO) scheme through the Department of Social Security. The NWO group was supervised by the West Coast Development Board and funded by the MLRRDP. Local contractors were also engaged by the project.
Fifty-five metres of stone wall and walkway were constructed at Memorial Park to rehabilitate erosion of the foreshore in this area. The historic walkway between Regatta Point and Pyrite Wharf was resurfaced and rehabilitated. Two tonnes of metal from the former railway formation was collected from the foreshore and recycled. The 2.5 ha derelict Pyrite Wharf area was rehabilitated. This involved management of polluting pyrite concentrates still on the site, removal of derelict structures and materials, contouring and spreading of topsoils and reseeding of the site with native species. The central creek was realigned and barriered with rock to prevent erosion.
Key results of the project include interpretation of cultural heritage and an improvement in stability, safety and aesthetic value of the foreshore region. The employment opportunities provided short-term social benefits with the potential for the NWO group's participants to gain longer term employment based on the skills and training developed through the project work experience.
The project represents a tangible benefit to the community and visiting tourists through improved amenity (in terms of stability, safety and aesthetics), and interpretation of the history of the foreshore and rehabilitation of derelict mining-related structures. This rehabilitation has been carried out in a manner sympathetic to the cultural history of the area and consistent with the new focus of Strahan as a fishing port and tourism destination.