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Tin Mining

Undated postcard of the Anchor tin mine (Tasmaniana Library, SLT)

Tin has been mined continuously in Tasmania for the past 130 years. James 'Philosopher' Smith made the initial discovery at Mount Bischoff in 1871. While this was considered the island's richest tin mine, north-east Tasmania was recognised as the 'Tin Province', encompassing scores of small to medium mines. Following George Renison Bell's discovery in 1874, alluvial mining began along the Ringarooma River. The Briseis Mine at Derby was the biggest producer, followed by the Pioneer Mine on Bradshaws Creek (1877), the longest-producing tin mine, which survived until 1982. On Blue Tier, the Anchor Mine was the largest lode tin deposit with 3,000 tonnes of concentrates produced between 1881 and 1950, and another 1170 tonnes during a revival between 1989 and 1996. Other major tinfields were situated at Gladstone (1875), Coles Bay (1875), Ben Lomond (1881), St Paul's River (1880s), and the Furneaux Group (1882).

Western Tasmania also provided important tin deposits at Mount Heemskirk (1876), Mount Balfour (1884), Renison Bell (1890), Stanley River (1893) and Mount Cleveland (1898). In remote south-west Tasmania, substantial alluvial tin deposits were discovered in 1891 near the coast at Cox Bight. Spasmodic mining occurred from 1892 to 1930. In 1934, Tasmania's last major tin discovery was made at Melaleuca, about ten kilometres north of Cox Bight. In 1940 Charlie King and his son Deny took over the lease, which Deny King continued to work until 1985, when he handed it over to become part of Rallinga Mine.

Further reading: D Beswick & G Wilson, As the river flows, Ringarooma, 1988; G Dickens, 'Mining in Tasmania', unpublished report, Mineral Resources Tasmania, 2001.

Greg Dickens