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Weighing refined copper
Title : Weighing refined copper Weighing refined copper
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Source : Wallaroo Smelting Works
Date of creation : ca. 1914
Format : Photograph
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
Catalogue record
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Description :

Weighing refined copper, Wallaroo Smelting works.

The copper ore from the Wallaroo and Moonta mines was processed at the smelters established a few kilometres away on the coast at Port Wallaroo. Established in 1861, within seven years the smelting works had become the largest in the world.

Originally using the Welsh reverberatory method, with all the furnaces venting through the huge Hughes stack, over the 65 years of its operation the smelter's managers continually upgraded the technology at the plant. Furnaces and stacks proliferated as operations expanded.

During that 65 year period over 300,000 tons of copper metal were produced as well as quantities of gold, silver, lead and sulphur-based by-products.

Initially the smelter produced matte copper - 50% copper metal with residual copper and iron sulphides - which was then further refined. In all, four processes took place with a huge consumption of fuel - locally grown firewood or imported coal and coke. New technology was introduced from 1890 which streamlined these processes: it was at this stage that the sulphur laden flue gases began to be processed to manufacture sulphuric acid for the manufacture of superphosphate. By the end of operations, in 1926, 99% pure copper metal was being produced.

Coverage year : 1914
Place : Wallaroo
Region : Yorke Peninsula
Further reading :

Bell, Peter, Wallaroo Smelters site: heritage assessment: report to Incitec Pivot Ltd by Peter Bell & Justin McCarthy Adelaide: Historical Research Pty Ltd, 2008

Bannear, David Archaeological survey of the Wallaroo copper smelters, Wallaroo, South Australia prepared for the State Heritage Branch, [Adelaide]: State Heritage Branch, 1985

Addicks, Lawrence Copper refining N.Y.: McGraw-Hill, 1921

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