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The Northampton region has a long history of lead and copper mining. The old State Battery opened in 1954 and over the next 30 years, left-over materials from the processing of mineral ores (lead tailings) accumulated at the site. Some of the lead tailings were removed from the Battery site by local contractors and residents and used for a range of purposes throughout the town including building foundations, fill material, driveways and garden areas.

Remediation of the former State Battery site was completed in 2010 using funding from the Contaminated Sites Management Account and the site is no longer a potential source of lead tailings.

What Is Happening Now?

The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage (DPLH) is coordinating a government project to investigate the extent of lead tailings remaining in Northampton and manage the identified tailings. 

Phase 1 of the Northampton Lead Tailings Project (the Project), to determine the presence and distribution of lead tailings within the Northampton townsite, has been completed. Most (98 per cent) of the town's approximately 650 properties participated in the investigation—129 properties were identified as requiring management or remediation to address lead tailings impacts. 

Northampton Lead Tailings Project Phase 2

Phase 2 of the Project is being led by DPLH and includes the management and remediation of lead tailings identified in the Northampton townsite.

Phase 2 Part A comprises the townsite remedial works and includes:

  • the preparation of individual property validation plans developed in consultation and with the approval of the landowner (including agreement of "make good" following works);
  • extensive planning and consultation to ensure the properties with the highest risk groups (young children, infants and pregnant women) are prioritised; and
  • the undertaking of remedial and make good works. 

The general remediation process is outlined in the NLTP Phase 2 Management Framework. This Framework describes the range of remedial options considered by DPLH depending on the location of tailings and other considerations.  DPLH has undertaken engagement with each of the affected landowners to discuss the specifics of each property.

Phase 2 Part B of the NLTP allows for the creation of a local, secure disposal facility to safely dispose of any tailings removed as part of the townsite remedial works. As part of Phase 2 Part B, a containment cell is being constructed at the Wheal Ellen site, a former lead mine located on the outskirts of town that has been abandoned and is now Crown land. The design of the proposed containment cell will ensure that there is sufficient capacity to safely store all tailings material removed as part of the townsite remedial works.

A significant milestone was achieved in May 2017, with the awarding of the contract for the townsite remedial works. The contract was awarded to Merit Consulting Group, a WA based civil engineering and earthworks firm who specialise in remediation projects. Merit's key subcontractor is Aurora Environmental, who delivered the Phase 1 investigation works, and who will now be responsible for the environmental management and community consultation works for Phase 2.

Phase 2 is expected to be completed by 2019.

Communication with the affected property owners continues to be the number one priority.

More Information

Visit the Department of Lands website for more information on the Northampton project.

Read the Department of Health’s information sheets to find out about lead and your health.


Updated 19 April 2017