Thousands of tonnes of steel is all that remains of some Wellington buildings after the Kaikoura quake, but there may still be some life in the twisted metal.
For the next week, Macaulay Metals in Lower Hutt will be running non-stop as 20,000T of scrap metal is moved, truckload by truckload, to a ship waiting to haul it off to South Korea where it will be recycled – some of it into new structural steel.
Crane operators and truck drivers will be working around the clock for six days to move the material, much of which came from buildings demolished in the wake of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Kaikoura on November 14 and caused damage across the Wellington region.
Among the scrap are pieces of the Reading's Cinema car parking building, as well as some steel from the section of Lower Hutt's Queensgate Mall that was demolished.
Other buildings forced to come down since the November earthquake include 61 Molesworth St and Reading's Cinema car park.
Two CentrePort buildings on Wellington's waterfront are being prepared for demolition later this month, but a date for the impending destruction of Freyberg House in Aitken St (occupied by Defence) is not yet known.
Two council-owned buildings on land between Cable St and Wakefield St – which the council bought for its proposed movie museum – have also been earmarked for demolition as has Revera House on Mulgrave St. The St John's Church hall in Karori has already been demolished.
"You've got the 'K' braces from Queensgate and you chop them into little pieces," Macaulay Metals operations manager Glen Jacobs said.
"I think it's pretty sad. I remember those K braces when I was a kid."
The scrap is gathered up into huge steel piles and cranes chip away at them. The trucks then haul it to the ship, Silver Lake, at Wellington's CentrePort where it will be ferried to Hyundai Steel in South Korea.
Hyundai Steel will melt it to manufacture a range of steel products, including new structural steel.
The process of shifting the metal to the ship was estimated to take more than 1000 loads.
Jacobs said this was the second shipment, or load out, they had sent out to Hyundai Steel. The first one shipment was a whopping 22,000 tonnes.
"We scaled down a bit for this one."
Macaulay Metals, the largest scrap metal recycling business in the country, dedicated roughly 40 staff to the job.
Once all the material is loaded into the waiting ship, Jacobs estimated it would take about five weeks to reach its destination in South Korea.
The scrap recycling centre often works with demolition contractors, picking up the scrap direct from the sites, or getting it dropped off at their centre.
"No one wants to see the scrap going into landfills," Jacobs said.