Angas Zinc Mine
One of the early industries at Strathalbyn was the mining of copper and silver. It started in 1848 with the formation of the Strathalbyn Mining Company. This was followed two years later by the Glenalbyn mine with Dr John and William Rankine among its directors. In 1851 the Breadalbyn mine was started. One of the larger mines was the Wheal Ellen silver mine, discovered by Frederick William Bassett, and named after his wife. It was started in 1857 and employed Henry Richard Hancock in 1858. He would later rule the Moonta and Wallaroo mines, and its miners, for 34 years.
The Wheal Ellen Mining Company also paid the passage for William Arundal Paynter and his family from Cornwall. Paynter was interested and experienced in ore dressing, a skill badly needed at the Wheal Ellen mine. As many as six shafts were sunk to mine the silver ore. Before 1860 the company used as much as 35,000 pounds to develop the mine. During these years 2,000 tons of ore were raised yielding 90,000 ounces of silver.
Some 160 years later mining once again contributed to the Strathalbyn, and South Australian, economy. In 1991 a zinc deposit was discovered, only 2 kilometres from Strathalbyn, by Aberfoyle Resourses. They did not think too much of it and Terramin Australia Ltd acquired it. They were granted mining lease 6229 on 17 August 2006.
Terramin started an intensive drilling program to establish the size of the deposit. After some mixed feelings and early opposition from some of the locals, and other South Australians, development of the Angas Zinc Mine was started in April 2007 with the excavation of the box cut and decline. In October of the same year a start was made with the plant construction.
Mine site Office
The first ore was mined on 8 April 2008 and three months later, on 18 July, the processing plant was commissioned to segregate the zinc and lead-copper concentrate. During its first two years of operation the mine has produced some 60,000 tonnes of zinc concentrate, containing 50% zinc and 24,000 tonnes of lead copper concentrate, containing 49% lead and 3.5% copper. Each tonne also contains about 450 grams of silver and 7 grams of gold.
On 17 September 2008 the Premier of South Australia, Mike Rann, officially opened the mine and a few weeks later the first shipment from the mine left Port Adelaide for South Korea.
Processing plant and workshops
By the end of 2008 underground mining, machinery and transport were all commissioned and operating at full capacity at the 120 metre level of the Rankine ore body. The decline of more than 2 kilometres has now been extended to the 140 metre level.
This was followed by further shipments to Asia and other concentrates to Port Pirie for further processing by Nyrstar smelters.
Portal and entrance via decline
At this stage, 2010, probable reserves have been estimated at more than 2 million tonnes making for a mine life of about 5 years. However there are strong possibilities of discovering further reserves which will extent that time and even increase the yearly production. Terramin, which is 100% Australian owned and listed on the ASX has an additional 1160 square kilometres of exploration leases with excellent potential for further reserves.
The mine now employs more than 60 people directly but more than 100 people have found employment indirectly. At the same time it has contributed to a more diversified economy of Strathalbyn. The mine would be put pn 'care and maintenance' for the time being.
Processing plant and workshops
After five years of mining and explorative drilling Terramin decided to close the mine in September 2013, putting 115 people out of work. The main reasons given were the low zinc prices, making it uneconomical to continue and their failure to find new loads. The mine would be put on 'care and maintenance' for the time being.
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