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Swan Portland Cement

Established in 1921, Swan Portland Cement (originally the Western Australia Cement Company) manufactured cement and lime. They were located on Burswood Road in Rivervale, before they moved to Kwinana.

They played an important role during World War 2, providing cement for the construction of bunkers. Subsequently, new houses under construction were limited to one bag of cement.

The spread of cement dust pollution as a result of manufacturing processes coloured nearby ponds, coated every building in the area and even inside dwellings.


Portland Cement

Primarily composed of limestone, clay and gypsum, Portland Cement is the most common type of cement, as opposed to white cement, which comprises of pure limestone and kaolin clay.

SPCB - Swan Portland Cement Bag
Recovered from under the floorboards of the Cygnet Como Theatre in March 2024

Manufacturing Process

All the materials required for manufacturing the cement was sourced locally. Decayed oyster shells was the main raw material used, which was obtained by dredging the Swan River beds, in close proximity to the production plant.


Swan Portland Cement were the pioneer of using shells as a basic material, which was subsequently adopted by other cement plants Australia-wide. Locally, it was supplemented with limestone from Fremantle.


Clay was obtained from a short distance up the river and transported to the production site in trucks, hauled with an electrically operated cable.


Consisting largely of silicates and aluminates of lime,  a “mechanical mixture of shell, limestone and clay or similar materials” was then milled into a fine powder.


During 1939, the existing Swan Portland Cement plant was reported to have a capacity of annually producing between 75,000-80,000 tons of cement. This increased to a record of 594,000 tons in an eight month period to August 1949.



The Swan Portland Cement works doubled their manufacturing capacity and shell dredging facilities in September 1935. Expansion of the site in August 1949 consisted of a new raw grinding machine, slurry mixer and a fourth rotary kiln, as well as electric motors.


In a report by the Public Environmental Review (PER) published in October 1996, a range of waste materials was identified in a bid to remediate contamination of the site in order to prepare it for redevelopment.

  • Asbestos existed above the ground in the form of cement sheeting and below the surface, asbestos remnants, cut-offs and other wastes had previously been buried throughout the site.

  • Cement kiln dust

  • Alumina and chromate bricks

  • Soil and drums containing lubricating oils

  • Fuel storage tanks


A section of the area had previously been used to manufacture asbestos products for James Hardie Industries. When the asbestos production plant closed in 1981, and was subsequently acquired by Swan Portland Cement.


The 19.1 hectare site was sold in the late 1990’s and demolished by Mainline Demolition in April 1999.


After an extensive remediation process of the site, a $300-million deal was made with Mirvac Fini for The Peninsula residential estate project, a unique concept at the time. Two other consortiums had been shortlisted, Taylor Woodrow and Multiplex Constructions in “conjunction with Macquarie Bank’s development arm, Urban Pacific”.


Originally marketed as Burswood Lake Estates, it was later renamed The Peninsula (“a piece of land almost surrounded by water or projecting out into a body of water”).

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