Home Page Iron Ore Mine
Savage River's history
really dates from the 1950s. Exploration of the area's ore bodies did not begin
until the mid- 1950s.
Population: 1700 at its peak in the 1970s and '80s. (Barb here from 1967-69 and lived at 17 Meredith Cresent)
Industries: Iron ore mining.
Amenities: In the peak mining era: supermarket, fruit and vegetable store, butcher shop (Barb worked here), credit union and bank, swimming pool, squash centre, medical centre, district high school, motor-inn, numerous sporting clubs.
NOW - Population: None full-time. Miners and staff live on site during their shift.
Industries: Iron-ore mining.
Amenities: Australian Bulk Minerals' lodge, former school now single men's quarters.
In 1876-77 iron
deposits were discovered in the Savage River and gold in Whyte River. From 1919
to 1926 iron deposits investigation found ore grade too low for mining to be
economically feasible. Pickands Mather study in 1965 showed the ore could be
extracted and refined into pellets for transport. Savage River mines began
operations in 1967. Savage River township established and an 85km slurry
pipeline built to the pelletising plant at Port Latta on the North-West coast.
Australian Bulk Minerals took over in 1996, implementing a $500 million
Resumption of Operations at Savage River
In 1996, the operators of the Savage River iron ore mine in northwest Tasmania ceased mining operations and planned to end all activities on the site in the first quarter of 1997 after almost 30 years of production. The orebody was known to extend beyond the floor and into the walls of the existing pits, and the associated facilities were in reasonable condition, although proper maintenance had been somewhat lacking in the later years.
Australian Bulk Minerals was invited to carry out a due diligence on the orebody and facilities with a view to acquisition and resumption of operations. Minserve was engaged to manage the due diligence and the subsequent feasibility study. The work was carried out in the second half of 1996, with the feasibility study being delivered in December. Operations at the mine recommenced in late 1997.
The operation lies some 100 kilometres south of the port of Burnie on the north coast of Tasmania. Run of mine ore from the open cut is concentrated on site in a wet magnetic separation process and concentrate is pumped through an 83 kilometre pipeline to Port Latta, where it is pelletised prior to export.
The mine is located in an environmentally sensitive area close to the Pieman National Park. As the name implies the site is adjacent to the Savage River, which crosses the orebody between the two major pits. Therefore as a result of the geography of the deposit, and because of concerns about the impact of earlier activities, environmental concerns played a significant part in feasibility work.
In essence, it was proposed to redesign the approach to mining and other aspects of the operation. At the same time many of the maintenance and overhead expenses, which had added considerably to production costs, were reduced or eliminated.