THE New South Wales government has put a call out for proposals to repurpose the 52-hecare Intertrade site – the former home of the BHP steelworks – at Newcastle.

The government said it is seeking registrations of interest “to transform the former steelworks site with innovative new uses”.

The Intertrade site is adjacent to the Mayfield site, where the Port of Newcastle proposes to build a container terminal if and when it is able to.

PoN special projects director Ross Cadell said selling the land off would not automatically put an end to plans to build a container terminal at the port.

“The sale of the Intertrade site to another party does not prevent the construction of a container terminal in Newcastle,” he said.

“However it certainly makes it less efficient operationally with our commercial partners.”

Mr Cadell would not say if PoN would register interest in purchasing the site.

“Following the surprise of the NSW Governments announcement, Port of Newcastle will consider all available options for how we next proceed,” he said.

Mr Cadell said PoN in 2020 submitted an unsolicited offer to the state government to purchase the land, but the offer was declined.

Mr Cadell said PoN has been forthright in its plans to pursue diversified trade in the port, which includes both hydrogen and a container terminal.

“Unfortunately, strengthening the economic prospects of the Hunter region, which includes up to 19,000 jobs, is simply not shared or a priority for the NSW government,” he said.

NSW minister for planning Anthony Roberts said the site, which has been extensively remediated, could be used for advanced manufacturing, “cleantech” and green energy, or be used for defence, securing jobs for the region.

“Newcastle has a proud industrial heritage and was once known as Steel City due to the BHP Steelworks that sat on this land for more than 80 years,” Mr Roberts said.

“As the seventh-largest city in Australia, with close proximity to Sydney and critical infrastructure including port, rail and road networks, Newcastle has great potential to specialise in innovative markets such as clean and green technologies.”

The registrations of interest period is to begin on February 28 and run for a three-week period. It will be a three-stage process: registration of interest, expressions of interest and, finally, requests for tender.

The intertrade site is largely unimproved, excepting a few existing structures, some of which are heritage-listed, and roads and sewerage infrastructure.

NSW said the Intertrade site had been extensively remediated in accordance with a voluntary management plan regulated by the NSW Environmental Protection Authority.