Portland Aluminium sits on just over 600 hectares of land, with smelting operations, buildings and roads occupying around 100 hectares. The sustainably managed site is known as the ‘Smelter in the Park’.
Portland Aluminium decided to create a ‘Smelter in the Park’ rather than having the un-operational 500 hectares as simply a 'buffer zone' around the smelter.
To turn the 'Smelter in the Park' vision into a reality, Portland Aluminium worked with the University of South Australia to create a master plan for the area. The plan included an area for visitors, areas for relaxation for the community, areas for learning and research, habitats for wildlife, and landscaping for operating areas within the smelter. The land surrounding the smelter is open for all community members to enjoy and is recognised as benchmark in conservation and restoration.
The 'Smelter in the Park' master plan is now nearly 20 years old and Portland Aluminium continues to review what the next 20 years may look like, with the assistance of long time sustainability partner Greening Australia.
Alcoa owns and manages 575 hectares of land at Point Henry, of which 500 hectares is outside the plant perimeter. This area takes in the Point Henry wetlands which form a significant chain of habitat for international migratory birds.
In 2005, Alcoa commissioned a management plan that would fulfil Alcoa’s vision for Point Henry: “The land owned and operated by Alcoa in the Point Henry region is an area of outstanding conservation, education, research and recreational value”
Land Management Plan
To help fulfill this vision, Alcoa partnered with Greening Australia (an Alcoa partner of more than 27 years) to carry out the implementation of the Land Management Plan for the area. The Land Management Plan was developed in close consultation with the local community and it’s now known as 'Moolapio', which is taken from the Indigenous language of the area and means ‘place of paperbark trees’.
The Land Management Plan is a long-term plan which prioritises opportunities to conserve, enhance and restore the flora and fauna of Point Henry. It presents a variety of different strategies for improving existing land management practices - from large-scale terrestrial and wetland restoration projects (focusing on the freshwater wetland at the northern end of the point and the constructed wetlands along Point Henry Road) to bird strike amelioration strategies.
The plan also presents a range of exciting opportunities for the education sector and wider community to play an active role in the management of Point Henry land through engaging schools, tertiary institutions and community groups in on-ground management, knowledge sharing and scientific research.
In 2008, Alcoa and Greening Australia were together recognised for land management at Point Henry, winning a national environmental award attached to World Environment Day. The Moolapio project took out the United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Award for ‘best specific environmental initiative’. The annual national awards program acknowledges action taken, at a local level, to address global environmental issues.
Anglesea Power Station and Coal Mine
The area known as the ‘Anglesea Heath’ overlays land leased by Alcoa under the Mines (Aluminium Agreement) Act 1961 (7097 hectares) and an additional 124 hectares of freehold land owned by Alcoa.
The Anglesea Heath is comprised of the area used for mining and power generation, known as the Mining Area (currently 545 hectares) and the remainder known as the Land for Conservation (currently 6,676 hectares).
The Anglesea Heath is the first case in Australia where a conservation agency and industry have come together to form a cooperative partnership to manage an area for conservation.
Land for Conservation
Currently, the Land for Conservation consists of a 6,676 hectare area of public land, located north of the coastal township of Anglesea. The area offers one of the most diverse and spectacular areas for flora, scenic landscape and wildlife communities in Victoria. The National Estate listing of much of the area recognises the area’s contribution to significant natural places, not only within Victoria but also in Australia.
A remarkable number of flora species exist within a relatively small area, with over 620 species, or approximately one quarter of the total Victorian flora. Over a quarter of Victorian orchid species are found in the lease area, with over 80 species and five hybrid species having been recorded.
A unique agreement between Alcoa and the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE), allows Government and industry to jointly manage the non-mining part of the lease and ensure that
this important area is protected. The entire leasehold has been named the ‘Anglesea Heath’ and is managed using the Anglesea Heath Management Plan.
Alcoa fund a Parks Victoria Ranger and we also have an Environmental Scientist on staff to implement the strategies and actions of the Anglesea Heath Management Plan, including the protection of threatened species, track rationalisation and rehabilitation.
Mining Area and Alcoa Freehold
The Land Management Cooperative Agreement and the Anglesea Heath Management Plan apply only to the Land for Conservation. The Mining Area is managed solely by Alcoa. Both the Agreement and the Management Plan allow continued use and management of the Mining Area and any future expansion of that area in accordance with the requirements of the Mines (Aluminium Agreement) Act 1961.
In addition to the leased land, Alcoa owns freehold land adjacent to Anglesea between the township and mine. This freehold consists of natural heathland and seeks to minimise the impacts of having
an open cut mine and power station close to the town. Consistent with the Anglesea Heath that surrounds it, this freehold has flora and fauna values that require active management. It also provides for passive recreational opportunities, including the Anglesea Bike Park, that are not appropriate for the Anglesea Heath.
Land Management Plan
To manage the Mining Area and freehold in a manner consistent with the surrounding lease, a Land Management Plan was developed in 2003 for the mining impacted area including the Alcoa freehold. The plan provides environmental amelioration, aesthetic benefit and biological conservation to lands owned by Alcoa at Anglesea.
The Land Management Plan includes the following:
- mine rehabilitation: method, standards and monitoring;
- vegetation restoration and revegetation works for the mining and freehold areas;
- protection of flora and fauna values on Alcoa freehold;
- environmental weed program for the mining and freehold areas; and
- development of a GIS project to assist in the mapping, monitoring and coordination of tasks within the management plan.
Anglesea Mine Rehabilitation
Alcoa began mine rehabilitation at Anglesea in the early 1970s. The total area rehabilitated at the end of 2007 was approximately 157 hectares.
No vegetation was cleared in 2008 and there was therefore no mine rehabilitation in that year.
The area to be rehabilitated in 2009 is dependent upon the progress of the mine plan, but the aim is to rehabilitate at a ratio of roughly 1:2. For example, if 3 hectares is cleared, 6 hectares will be rehabilitated.
In 2005, Anglesea was recognised for excellence in natural environmental management with a high commendation in the Victorian State Government Strzelecki Awards for its mine rehabilitation work.