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The Waikato North Head ironsand mine is located at the mouth of the Waikato River on the West Coast of New Zealand's North Island. The mine site contains over 150 million tonnes of ironsand that is mined at a rate of 1.2 million tonnes of sand annually.

Waikato North Head Mine Owned by BlueScope Through New Zealand Steel
The Waikato North Head ironsand mine is owned and operated by New Zealand Steel, a wholly owned subsidiary of the international steel maker BlueScope. BlueScope was formerly a group member of BHP Billiton. It was made an independent company in July, 2002, when it was listed on the ASX (Australian Securities Exchange). BlueScope had evolved as an independent company in its own right after it began life from the integration of Broken Hill Propriety Limited (BHP), Australian Iron and Steel Limited (AIS) and John Lysaght Australia Pty Ltd. The new company, BlueScope, acquired 71 percent of New Zealand Steel in 1989.

Ironsand at Waikato North Head Dates Back Over two Million Years
Ironsand is the black sand found in great quantities on beaches located down the West Coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It was first studied for commercial use in the early days of European settlement of New Zealand. The black sand, known as ironsand, was formed between two and three million years ago from rock formations on the coast that had been deposited there by volcanos erupting in the New Zealand Taranaki Region. The ironsand, that comprises titanomagnetite and lime-soda feldspars, has been deposited on the beaches after being transported along the coast by ocean currents. Many of the sand dunes formed in this manner reach heights of 90 metres.

Waikato North Head Mine's Ironsand Processed at Glenbrook Mill
The huge deposits of ironsand found along the West Coast of New Zealand's North Island, particularly at the mouth of the Waikato River, were subjected to extensive trials that resulted in the New Zealand Steel mill being opened at Glenbrook in 1970, to process ironsand from a mine established at the Waikato North Head site. The mine was owned and operated by New Zealand Steel that also established another ironsand mine at Taharoa, near Kawhia Harbour, 150 kilometres south of Auckland. The Taharoa ironsand deposit covers an area of 1,600 hectares that holds reserves of around 300 million tonnes, the largest ironsand deposit in New Zealand.

Waikato North Head Mine Concentrate Slurry Created Onsite
Before the ironsand mined at the Waikato North Head mine is transported to the Glenbrook mill it undergoes primary treatment at the minesite concentration plant. At this facility the magnetic concentrate is removed by means of a series of separation processes before it is mixed with water to make a slurry. Material that is not part of the slurry, known as tailings, is used for site rehabilitation.

The concentrate in slurry form is taken to the Glenbrook mill in an 18 kilometre long underground pipeline. This pipeline has been acclaimed as a world first innovation. It avoids the need for road or rail transporting of the concentrate from the Waikato North Head mine site to the mill, as it creates a lower environmental impact and is unobtrusive.

New Zealand Steel

New Zealand Steel supply all major markets including construction, manufacturing, infrastructure and agriculture.For the infrastructure industry we manufacture a range of hot rolled products, pipe and hollow sections for use in a variety of applications including bridges and railings.New more


New Zealand Steel
Mission Bush Rd, Private Bag 92121
Auckland, NZ 1142



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