A proposed near-surface geological waste repository (referred to as the ‘Blue Bush Facility’) located on a flat, thick, dry clay bed in a semi-arid area would be located approximately 45 kilometres south of Broken Hill in NSW. It would be supported by  a proposed transfer station (referred to as the ‘Blue Bush Transfer Station) located adjacent to the industrial precinct of Broken Hill, outside of the Broken Hill Local Government Area (refer to Figure 1). The proposed Blue Bush Facility and Blue Bush Transfer Station are collectively referred to as the ‘Blue Bush Project’.

Figure 1 Location of proposed Blue Bush Facility and Blue Bush Transfer Station

Why are we developing this proposed facility?

  • Australia is one of the world’s highest generators of hazardous waste per capita.
  • Hazardous waste is growing at 3X gross domestic product and 5X population growth rates.
  • In 2017-2018, Australia generated a total of 67 million tonnes of waste across four categories. Hazardous waste accounted for 12 % of that (or 8 million tonnes).
  • The east coast of Australia accounts for ~ 80 % of the hazardous waste generated in Australia. NSW generates ~ 33 %.
  • Australia and NSW do not have sufficient infrastructure to deal with legacy, current and emerging hazardous waste volumes.

Stages of development

Tellus is in the early stages of approvals, feasibility studies and stakeholder engagement for the Blue Bush Project. The following are the GO/ NO GO gates that the project needs to proceed through before final investment decision:

  • Main Approvals
    • Environmental Scoping Report. WE ARE HERE
    • Project SEARs.
    • Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
    • The EIS is likely to be submitted by Tellus in early 2021.
  • Final Environmental Impact Statement.
  • Ministerial Approval.
  • Operational License.
  • Feasibility studies
    • Scoping study (FEL 1). – WE ARE HERE
    • Pre-feasibility Study (PFS-FEL 2).
    • Bankable feasibility Study (BFS-FEL 3).
    • Final investment decision (FID).
    • Final Engineering and Design (FEL 4).
  • Ongoing stakeholder engagement. – WE WILL BE HERE FOR THE LIFE OF THE PROJECT
  • Tellus is aiming for a three-year approval timeframe for the Blue Bush Project.
  • If approved, construction will take between 18-24 months
  • We are planning for 25 years of operations.

Project benefits and jobs

If approved, the Blue Bush Project could result in significant and long-term positive environmental, social and economic benefits to the Broken Hill region, NSW and Australia.

These benefits could include:

  • Providing an innovative, safe and secure permanent isolation and long-term storage facility for hazardous chemical waste in regional NSW.
  • Providing an opportunity to clean up legacy lead issues in Broken Hill.
  • Providing opportunities for sustainable, long-term employment and training at a local and regional scale in NSW.
  • Jobs
    • About 80-120 full time equivalent (FTE) and 200 – 300 indirect jobs generated during the peak of construction.
    • About 50-90 FTE jobs and 100-225 indirect jobs generated during operation.
  • Diversifying local and regional economies in the Far West Region of NSW.
  • Boosting the economy
    • Capital expenditure is estimated to be > $100-150 million.
    • Operating expenditure is estimated to be tens of millions of dollars per annum over 25 years.
    • Royalties, taxes and levies.
  • Providing local business support.
  • Fulfilling the Australian and NSW government’s own environmental and waste policy obligations.
  • Supporting the circular economy by providing an opportunity for the future potential recovery of valuable materials (that are currently deemed waste). The project could attract new waste recycling and recovery industries to NSW.

About geological repositories

Site selection

The site of the proposed Blue Bush Facility has been specifically chosen for its natural characteristics which are aligned with global best practice standards for a near-surface geological repository.

Facility capacity

Tellus is seeking environmental planning approval to receive up to a maximum of 200,000 tpa of hazardous chemical waste. The life of the project could be up to 25 years.

Approvals status

The Blue Bush Project will be assessed as State Significant Development under Part 4, Division 4.7 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW) (EP&A Act).

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be required to accompany a Development Application to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE).

Licensing and regulation of the Blue Bush Facility would principally be required under the Protection of the Environment and Operations Act 1997 and associated Regulations.

The Blue Bush Project may be assessed under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cwlth).

Community engagement

Tellus has developed a detailed Community Engagement Strategy for the Blue Bush Project. We have already begun early stage engagement with key stakeholders and we look forward to expanding our direct consultation with the community upon the receipt of SEARs.

Community feedback will be considered during the environmental impact assessment and engineering design of the Blue Bush Project.

Have your say at: https://tellus.mysocialpinpoint.com.au/blue-bush.

For further information or to provide feedback, please email bluebush@tellusholdings.com

The Blue Bush Project’s waste acceptance criteria

Waste would be sourced from a variety of industry sectors including heavy industry; mining, oil and gas; chemical; manufacturing; agricultural; and remediation industries.

Waste not accepted

Very Low Level Waste (VLLW), Low Level Waste (LLW), Intermediate Level Waste (ILW), High Level Waste (HLW) and nuclear waste, clinical waste (e.g. infectious hospital waste and body parts), municipal solid waste (putrescible household and commercial waste), uncertified waste (which cannot be identified or has not undergone characterisation testing), would not be accepted at the proposed Blue Bush Facility.

Waste accepted

Subject to them meeting Tellus’ strict Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC), many chemical wastes listed under Schedule 1 of the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014 (NSW) could be accepted at the proposed Blue Bush Facility,.

Exempt Waste (EW) (e.g. wastes containing radionuclides at concentrations that does not require regulatory oversight) such as such as Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM) wastes from the solar and electric car battery industries would be accepted at the proposed Blue Bush Facility.

Waste acceptance jurisdiction

Waste would be accepted from NSW, other jurisdictions within Australia, and from the Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).


Access to the proposed Blue Bush facility would be from the Silver City Highway.

Proposed infrastructure

The following infrastructure may be constructed at the proposed Blue Bush Transfer Station and the Blue Bush Facility. A detailed description will be provided in the approvals documents:

  • Construction-related infrastructure
  • Operation-related infrastructure (waste infrastructure)
  • Ancillary infrastructure

Future proposed circular economy park

Thes project will also be studied as a potential future circular economy park, where valuable materials could be recycled and recovered. The circular economy park would be subject to additional stakeholder engagement, studies and approvals.

Assurance and insurance

Tellus has an established and costed a world’s best practice assurance framework and insurance policies that are designed and funded to ensure all plausible risks are covered and funded. Consultation with the NSW Government to agree project specific assurance and insurance will be undertaken as part of the NSW environmental planning process.

For further information:

Visit our project website – https://tellusholdings.com/projects/blue-bush-project

Phone us at: +61 (0)2 8257 3395

E-mail us at: bluebush@tellusholdings.com

Have your say at: https://tellus.mysocialpinpoint.com.au/blue-bush

Or visit the NSW Government website – https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/project/39691