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  • Tin
  • Mines Producing Tin

Humans have traded and used tin for over 5,000 years. One of the first uses man put tin to was in combining it with copper to make bronze. There are artefacts of copper being coated with tin dating back to the first century AD and many samples of tin plated iron exist that can be traced back to the 16th century. Much of the early use of tin can probably be attributed to its relatively low melting point.

Pure tin is a silvery white metal, highly crystalline and malleable. Although tin has many uses, its main use remains tin-plate, this is the practice of coating steel with tin for the packaging of food. The solder used by electricians in joining wires is a tin alloy. Another important use as an alloy is in making bearing (white metal) shells and for metal coatings. Organic compounds of tin are used as fire retardants, pesticides, wood preservatives and plastics. Inorganic compounds, on the other hand, are used in glazing and ceramics. Tin has a high resistance to fatigue and corrosion, readily recyclable and non-toxic.

Primary and Secondary Deposits of Tin Ore

The most important tin ore is known as cassiterite, although tin is also found in sulphide minerals like stannite. The two main ways to locate tin deposits are known as either primary or secondary deposits:

Primary deposits - Underground primary deposits of ore containing tin are often associated with granite intrusive rock formations caused by magma bodies becoming embodied in the rock itself, as against that of volcanic rock that carries minerals on its surface.

Secondary deposits – These are also known as placers and have come about as the result of intense erosion and weathering of the primary deposit on the surface. Cassiterite is resistant to most chemicals, it forms residual concentrations and is quite heavy. Concentrations can be found as a primary deposit known as eluvial but when located on slopes below the deposit they are known as colluvial. If located in a creek or river bed the cassiterite can be carried downstream to finally become embedded as an alluvial placer deposit. Over long periods of time this placer deposit can become buried by lava or sediment, it is then referred to as being a deep lead. Some important tin deposits are found on ocean beds. These have usually been deposited there as a result of a submerged river bed. In fact over 50 percent of the world tin production is found in these types of deposits, particularly in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Renison Bell – Australia's Largest Tin Producer
The Renison Bell Tin mine, between Rosebery and Zeehan on the West Coast of Tasmania, one of the largest underground tin mines in the world, contains over 85 percent of Australia's total tin resource. This massive deposit is of a primary carbonate replacement nature. The next biggest tin mine in the country is located at Greenbushes in Western Australia. Tin here is recovered alongside
the mineral tantalum from a primary deposit that has been considerably weathered. Mines that have the potential to grow as future resources are proven include Doradilla, Collingwood and the district surrounding Bynoe harbour.

Smelting of Tin can Take up to 12 Hours
Cassiterite is converted to tin by heating it to a temperature above 1200 degrees Celsius. This is achieved in a reverberatory furnace. Additional tin recovery is achieved by re-smelting the slag left over after recovering tin from the original smelting operation. The smelting process that can take up to 12 hours consists of a furnace charge containing silica fluxes, limestone, a carbon reducing agent and cassiterite. The molten metal is tapped into what is known as a settler from which the resulting slag is allowed to overflow into pots. The molten tin accumulates in the bottom of the settler from where it is retrieved and cast into pigs or slabs for refining.

Australia has around 1.3 percent of the word tin resource which totals seven million tonnes. Asian countries have 27 percent, Malaysia 15 percent, Thailand 12 percent and Indonesia 10 percent. Other countries that have large tin reserves include; Russia, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil.

Australian Mines that produce Tin

Kara ( TAS )

The Kara open pit mine at Hampshire in North West Tasmania, 22 kilometres south of Burnie, mines scheelite for export and magnetite for domestic use.

Mt Bischoff ( TAS )

The Mount Bischoff tin mine at Waratah was once nationalised by the state and federal governments as an industry of national importance.

Renison Bell ( TAS )

The Renison Bell tin mine in Tasmania is the only major tin project in Australia and one of the few tin projects in the world that is publicly owned.

Scotia ( TAS )

The Scotia tin mine in Tasmania was previously operated by Van Dieman Mines Pty Ltd that went into administration in 2009. The mine is now closed.

Greenbushes ( WA )

The Greenbushes lithium mine in Western Australia has been acquired by Talison Lithium

Naracoopa ( TAS )

Mineral sand mining at Naracoopa on King Island, Tasmania, that has been taking place, on and off, since early in the 1990's is once again in production.

Pilgangoora ( WA )

The Pilgangoora project owned by Altura Mining is a significant discovery as it is regarded as one of the best hard rock lithium deposits in the world.

Baal Gammon ( QLD )

The troubled Baal Gammon mine near Herberton in Queensland's Tablelands could have a future under Chinese miner Snow Peak through Consolidated Tin.

Herberton Tin Project ( QLD )

The Herberton tin project in north Queensland could once again flourish as a major tin mine if things work out for Perth based Monto Minerals Limited.

Mount Lindsay ( TAS )

The Mount Lindsay tin mining project on the West Coast of Tasmania has been defined as having one of the world's largest undeveloped tin deposits.

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