Downer

ZINC

  • Zinc
  • Mines Producing Zinc

 Zinc is used as a protective coating for all steel and iron constructions that we take for granted, such as railways, cars, bridges and building frames.


Zinc itself is a shiny metal, blue-tinged white in colour. It has a low melting point, and works well as an alloy with other metals. It is brittle at room temperature, but when heated it is quite malleable and can be formed into wires. It is an effective electrical conductor, and quite hard. Zinc is found in the air, in water and in the biosphere, as well as in rock and soil; all living things contain zinc.


Zinc has never actually been found in its pure form, though there are zinc deposits all over the world. It occurs as an ore, and is found in four kinds of deposits. Volcanic zinc deposits are found with large concentrations of silver, gold and other elements. When it is found in host rocks, these are usually limestone and dolomite rocks, and the zinc is often grouped with lead, copper and silver elements. When it is a sediment deposit, its host rocks are shale, siltstone and sandstone; this kind of ore has a high silver content. The fourth kind of zinc deposit is found in carbonate rocks with calcium and magnesium minerals.


In Europe, zinc was being produced on a large scale by the 1700s. Historians believe that zinc was first used to make brass in the Roman Empire between 20 B.C. and 14 A.D. It took a little longer for Australians to find zinc, however when we did, it played a huge role in the Australian economy. When a large orebody comprised of zinc, lead and silver was found at Broken Hill in 1883, a mine was opened that helped to boost the economy, making zinc a major produce alongside wool and wheat. The mine still operates today, and Australians now use more zinc-coated metals per capita than anywhere else in the world.


In the early decades of zinc mining however, miners didn’t know how to separate zinc from the other materials comprising the ore. Then one day, a mill foreman called James Lyster found a way to separate zinc by crushing the ore, mixing it with water then adding oil and forcing air through the mixture. The zinc stuck to the air bubbles and rose to the top, while the rest sank. This method is called froth floatation, and is still one of the major ways that metals are removed from ore. Once the zinc has been separated, it is heated and chemically treated for purification.


Australia has around 20% of the world’s zinc resources, and produces 1,450,000 metric tons per year (as at February 2012), following China’s production of 3,500,000 tonnes and Peru’s 1,520,000 tonnes. Most of Australia’s zinc mines are found in the Northern Territory and Queensland. The Century Mine in Queensland is Australia’s largest open pit zinc mine, and is expected to become the world’s largest zinc mine when it grows to its full production. It was opened in 1997, and is expected to be exhausted by 2016.


The major use for zinc is as a protection agent for other metals. This is done by coating the steel and metal with molten zinc, a process called galvanising. This is how 60% of Australia’s zinc is used, going into products like poles, wires, household appliances, cars, roofs and steel supports.


The other uses of zinc include making an extremely strong alloy by mixing it with aluminium. This alloy has a very low melting point that means it can be diecast – that is, moulded into different shapes to make a range of finely detailed products such as staples, zips, doorhandles and car parts.


Zinc’s ability to conduct electricity makes it useful in batteries. When zinc is mixed with copper it forms brass, a highly rust-resistant material used on boats, as well as musical instruments, scientific and navigation tools.


People also need zinc in our bodies, as it helps our healing abilities and immune systems. We usually get zinc in meats, nuts, fruits and shellfish.
This metal appears absolutely everywhere in life, including as zinc oxide in rubber tyres, creams, lotions, paints and plastics. As a sulphate it is used to make TV screens, watches and fluorescent lights luminescent. In other compounds, it can stop plastics from cracking, form glues and make wood fire-proof. Interestingly, as it is highly flammable when dry, it is also used in fireworks. Zinc is truly a metal of all trades.

Australian Mines that produce Zinc

Broken Hill Rasp Mine ( NSW )

The Broken Hill-Rasp Mine , a zinc,lead and silver underground mine at Broken hill in New South Wales was opened in July 2012 by the Toho Zinc Company.

Endeavor ( NSW )

The Endeavor Mine at Cobar in New South Wales is owned by CBH Resources Limited, a fully owned subsidiary of the Japanese Toho Zinc Company Limited.

The Pinnacles ( NSW )

Pinnacles Mining Pty Ltd was wound up in May 2011 but Perilya Limited have moved in by acquiring leases over the Pinnacles deposits.

Woodlawn Mine ( NSW )

The NSW Government has approved the re-opening of the Woodlawn copper, zinc, lead and gold mine at Tarago, near Goulburn, after 15 years of closure.

Browns ( NT )

The Browns mine near Batchelor in Northern Territory remains on care and maintenance while owner HNC (Australia) Resources Pty Ltd assess viability.

Mcarthur River ( NT )

The GlencoreXstrata owned McArthur River zinc, lead and silver mine in the Northern Territory is mining one of the world's largest lead and zinc deposits.

Balcooma ( QLD )

The Balcooma Mine in Queensland has been sold to Snow Peak Mining and its subsidiary Consolidated Tin after going into administration in 2012.

Cannington ( QLD )

The Cannington silver and lead mine in North West Queensland is a fly in fly out mining and processing operation 200 kilometres from Mt Isa owned by South32.

Century ( QLD )

The Century mine in northern Queensland is in a transitionary period as it is being prepared to cease production in 2016 as reserves become exhausted.

Dry River South ( QLD )

The Dry River South Mine in the Queensland Central Region has passed hands from its former owner Kagara Limited to Chinese company Snow Peak Mining Pty Ltd.

George Fisher ( QLD )

The George Fisher Mine at Mount Isa in Northern Queensland is a major participant of Mount Isa Mines (MIM) that is owned by global miner GlencoreXstrata.

Mt Garnet ( QLD )

The Mount Garnet mining operation in North Queensland is given hope of survival after being acquired by Snow Peak International from the collapsed Kagara.

Mt Isa Pb Zn Ag Orebodies ( QLD )

The Mount Isa silver, zinc, lead and copper mine in North West Queensland is part of the giant Glencore Xstrata global mining company.

Mungana ( QLD )

The troubled Mungana base metal mine in North Queensland currently remains in voluntary administration while its future is being decided.

Angas ( SA )

Located in Angas SA, mining Zinc, Lead, Gold, Copper, (Silver)

Hellyer ( TAS )

The Hellyer lead-zinc-copper mine in Western Tasmania commenced production in 1989 and closed in 2000 when economically available ore reserves were exhausted.

Que River ( TAS )

The Que River open cut mine on the West Coast of Tasmania, that is owned by Bass Metals Limited, is currently not operating.

Rosebery ( TAS )

The concentrator at the Rosebery Mine in Tasmania has been in continuous operation for 75 years, creating its own piece of Australian mining history.

Golden Grove ( WA )

The Golden Grove Mine in Western Australia consists of the Gossan Hill and Scuddles mines. The operation is located 280 kilometres of Geraldton.

Gossan Hill ( WA )

The Gossan Hill underground mine, located 280 kilometres east of Geraldton in W.A., is part of the Golden Grove operation that includes the Scuddles Mine.

Jaguar ( WA )

The Jaguar copper, zinc and silver mine in Western Australia was fully acquired by Independence Group NL in 2011 with its takeover of Jabiru Metals Limited.

Whim Creek ( WA )

The Whim Creek Copper Project that is wholly owned by Venturex Resources Limited is located midway between Port Hedland and Karratha in Western Australia.

Whundo ( WA )

Copper mining at Whundo goes as far back as 1911, on a stop start basis. This is continuing as the current operation is placed on care and maintenance.

Chesney ( NSW )

The Chesney underground mine in Cobar, NSW, is a major component of the Peak Gold Mine operation that is made up of five working mines owned by New Gold Inc.

Mount Cattlin ( WA )

Mount Cattlin is a Zinc Mine in the Ravensthorpe area of Western Australia

Mineral Hill ( NSW )

The Mineral Hill copper mine at Condobolin in the Cobar Basin of Central NSW, is owned by KBL Mining. It also a produces lead, zinc, silver and gold.

Broken Hill ( NSW )

The owner of the NSW Broken Hill Mine, Perilya, is about to be wholly acquired by its largest shareholder Zhongjin Lingnan of the Republic of China.

Black Star ( QLD )

The Black Star open pit mine at Mt Isa in northern Queensland, that is owned by Glencore Xstrata, began production in 2005 and has a life of mine to 2016.

Risdon Smelter ( TAS )

The Risdon Smelter in Hobart Tasmania, which was built in 1921, remains one of the world's most efficient zinc producers.

Lady Loretta ( QLD )

The first zinc, lead and silver ore was trucked into Mt Isa for processing from the Lady Loretta mine in north west Queensland, in September 2012.

Dugald River ( QLD )

MMG delays development of the Dugald River zinc, lead and silver mine in Queensland while it considers alternative mining methods.

Sorby Hills ( WA )

The Sorby Hills mining project, located in the Kimberly Region of Western Australia, contains the largest near surface silver lead deposit in Australia.

Flinders Zinc ( SA )

Perilya keep the Flinders Zinc Project mine in South Australia on care and maintenance while carrying out further exploratory drilling programs.

Sulphur Springs ( WA )

The Sulphur Springs underground copper mine is being developed in Western Australia by VentureX Resources Limited.

Hera Nymagee ( NSW )

The Hera-Nymagee mine, south east of Cobar in New South Wales, includes the Hera gold mine and the Nymagee copper mine.

Kempfield ( NSW )

The Kempfield polymetallic project in New South Wales is ready waiting for precious metals prices to recover before it progresses into the production stage.

Lennard Shelf ( WA )

Chinese company, NWII, looks to re-opening the Lennard Shelf high quality lead /zinc mining operation in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Great Southern Kundip Polymetallic Project ( WA )

The Great Southern Polymetallic Project that is located in the southeast of Western Australia is subject to a Farm - In and Joint Venture arrangement between Silver Lake and ACH Minerals.

Admiral Bay ( WA )

The Admiral Bay base metal project in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, to be developed by Metalicity, contains one of the world's largest zinc deposits.

Yeneena ( WA )

The Yeneena base metal project in the east Pilbara region of Western Australia is being developed by Encounter Resources Limited with the assistance of farm-in agreements.

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