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Tin mining

Learn about the early tin miners who mined the area and the role tin played in shaping our lifestyle today.

Tin mining on the Granite Belt

1.8 Mining - tin - tin miners with sluice boxes, stanthorpe district 1872 -  Boag QSL.jpg
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The 1870s saw a great rush to mine alluvial tin in a place called Quart Pot Creek on the Darling Downs. This rural locality, 170km south-west of Brisbane, is now known as Stanthorpe, named after the Latin word for tin, stannum. Geoscience Australia records that Tin (Sn) is one of the few metals that has been used and traded by humans for more than 5,000 years. One of its oldest uses is in combination with copper to make bronze. Tin has the advantageous combinations of a low melting point, malleability, and the ability to alloy with other metals. Tin is almost always found closely allied to the granite from which it originates, hence the discovery of tin in the Granite Belt region of Queensland’s Southern Downs.

Tin was first discovered in the Stanthorpe area in 1852, but was not actually worked until 1872. The area was a quiet backwater, with several pastoral runs and shepherds’ huts dotting the landscape. The Pioneer Tin Mining Company started mining at Stanthorpe in 1872, putting the place on the map. With the global boom in tin prices in the 1870s, prices rose by 20 pounds per ton.  Intermittent booms occurred in subsequent years. With tin found along the watercourses, streams and creeks, the region quickly became the largest alluvial tin mine in Queensland. In 1874, Mr Miles MLA said that “the district of Stanthorpe had contributed more largely to the prosperity of Queensland than any other district in it.” Tin valued at 2.5 million pounds was reportedly produced from the area.  Commercial mining operations continued in the area for over 60 years.


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1.36 Mining - tin - tin mines in amiens state forest 2013 - Paula Boatfield.jpg
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Remnants of tin mining activities in the Passchendaele State Forest (southern Amiens section).

in 2016, these tin mining remnants were bulldozed and collapsed to eliminate safety hazards. 

Image credit: Paula Boatfield

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