Ottery Mine | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Ottery Mine

Item details

Name of item: Ottery Mine
Other name/s: The Ottery Mine; Industrial Archaeological Site; Ottery Arsenic Mine
Type of item: Archaeological-Terrestrial
Group/Collection: Mining and Mineral Processing
Category: Mine site
Location: Lat: -29.408944 Long: 151.660319
Primary address: 8km north-east, Emmaville, NSW 2371
Parish: Tent Hill
County: Gough
Local govt. area: Glen Innes Severn
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Moombahlene
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT47 DP753317
PART LOT7004 DP92697

Boundary:

8 kilometers northeast of Emmaville and 35 kilometres north of Glen Innes in the New England region of NSW. The site lies within the Shire of Severn, the Parish of Tent Hill and the County of Gough. The road to Torrington lies to the south and east of the site, and Ottery Creek is located to the north.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
8km north-eastEmmavilleGlen Innes SevernTent HillGoughPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Department of Primary IndustriesState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Ottery Mine is the only arsenic refinery plant remaining in any condition in New South Wales. It is the oldest principal ore refinery in Australia. It was one of the first underground mines in the Emmaville area and largely responsible for the economic and social development of the town. The design of the Ottery arsenic plant is unique in Australia. It is the most complete and complex of the arsenic refinery sites. It is an excellent example of a traditional method of industrial processing.

The site has a unique potential to provide information about the mining and extraction of arsenic, for students of geology, archaeology and industrial process. No detailed plans of the site or individual structures are known to exist. The site can therefore provide information not available from any other source. (Godden 1981: 7-9)
Date significance updated: 07 Jun 00
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Construction years: 1882-1939
Physical description: The total site covers some 20 hectares, although the PCO curtilage is confined to the area immediately surrounding the main buildings and works. The Ottery mine workings lie on the side of a steep hill at the head of a narrow gully. All drainage from the gully flows into a small, un-named ephemeral creek. Numerous derelict structures, open mine workings, eroding slimes dams, spoil heaps and pieces of machinery are scattered acrosss the site. These include the primary kilns, the secondary kilns, the rotary kiln, refinery, cooperage and two twin banks of condensers leading up the hill to a common flue and chimney. The chimney stack still in excellent condition, dominates the crest of the hill.

The burnt-out timber framework and concrete foundations of the tin processing plant can still be seen below the main shaft. Many bricks have been removed from every structure on the site except the chimney. The kilns are also relatively complete. The main shaft, which is open, has been built up with an extensive timber retaining wall and a large mullock dump on the down hill side. The mine workings extend up the gully to the southwest of the main shaft and numerous adits, small shafts, holes and collpased stones are sacttered throughout the bush. Several large circular open cuts, thought to be relics from the earliest tin producing days, occur towards the top of the hill. Two freshwater storage dams occur to the northeast and southwest of the mine workings. (Toyer and Main 1981: 11)

Two large waste dumps block the drainage line below the arsenic chambers. A five-head stamper and engine stands nearby. Much of the area is covered with scrubby regrowth. (Toyer and Main 1980: 13)

The gradient of the site falls steeply from south to north. (Steding, 2003:3)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Most of the structures on the site are in ruins although stabilisation works have recently been undertaken.

Archaeological potential is high.


"The Ottery Mine has considerable archaeological research potential. Its main value lies in the unique and substantial structural remains and the mining landscape itself. Detailed examination of the site has the potential to reveal information about the operations of the mining process, developments in mining technology and the lives of the people working the mine.

"It is possible that refuse or other artefacts associated with mining activities were deposited on site in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries through discard, loss or other processes. Such artefacts may reveal additional information associated with the lives of those who worked the mine. Surface artefacts include, for instance, remnants of machinery, pieces of metal flue, iron bolts, wedges and other tools, broken timbers, bricks, wrought iron, a brass handle and fragmented riveted square tins or buckets. However, these artefacts were spread across the site and were no longer in situ. Most often they lay within the layer of mullock more recently distributed over the site. Additional artefacts may have been covered by the mullock.

"The site is of educational importance to tertiary students of industrial archaeology, geology and mining . . . In particular, through Adit No. 1 underground workings and rock formations are still accessible at this site, providing a unique opportunity for scientific examination where safe conditions allow." (Steding 2003: 16)
Modifications and dates: 1882 - smelter constructed
1920-22 - arsenic extraction plant constructed
1927 - tin extraction plant constructed, including a ten-head battery, dam and concentrating tables
1939 - flotation tanks and freshwater dam constructed
1940 - much equipment removed and structures dismantled
1993 - Ottery was rehabilitated in a joint project by the Department of Conservation and Land Management and the Department of Mineral Resources
2003 - Additional rehabilitation works due to continuing safety hazards and pollution problems on the site (signage, fencing, erosion and drainage control)
Former use: Mine

History

Historical notes: The Ottery Mine is a derelict underground tin/arsenic mine located 8km northeast of Emmaville in far northerm New South Wales. It was one of the first underground base metal deposits exploited in the Emmaville district and lies about 2.5 km north of the old mining village of Tent Hill (Toyer and Main 1980: 1-3).

The mine was discovered by and named after Alexander Ottery in the late 1870s. It was worked continuously for tin between 1882 and 1905 by the Glen Smelting Company who set up a 15 head stamper battery at near by Tent Hill (Toyer and Main 1980: 3). Extensive mine developments occured with eight shafts being sunk and 2,500 tonnes of tin concentrate being produced. As the lode became deeper the sulphide content became higher and a smelter was erected on site to calcine the ore. After it was fired the ore was transported to Tent Hill for crushing. After a fatal accident in 1906, operations ceased and did not begin again until 1920 when the mine was aquired by the Sydney based William Cooper and Nephews (Aust.) Pty. Ltd (Toyer and Main 1980: 3). Their sole purpose was to produce arsenic for sheep and cattle dips and other pesticides. An on site ore processing plant was constructed under the supervision of a Mr A.C. Julius the mine manager and production of the 99.7% pure arsenic trioxide began in 1921 (Godden 1981: 2).

The process of arsenic extraction involved feeding the coarse ore into roasting kilns and the fine ore into a mechanical furnace for firing. The resulting arsenic fumes passed into a set of 66 condensation chambers where the gasses were cooled and sublimed onto the interior brickwork as solid crystals of crude arsenic trioxide. The crytals were further refined by being re-fired and the gasses re-sublimed. The concentrated arsenic trioxide was then barrelled and transported to Sydney. (Toyer and Main 1980: 3). The handling of arsenic was a dangerous process and the men followed strict safety procedures including rubbing soft soap into their skin, wearing silk boxer shorts under their trousers and paiting theor bodies with red paint of unknown composition (Toyer and Main 1980: 4-5).

From 1925 to 1927 a ten-head stamper battery, grinding pans, concentrating tables, a concrete weir and pump were installed to extract the tin that was also present in the arsenic ores. The plant reworked arsenic tailings as well as some high tin, low arsenic ores (Godden 1981: 3). Operations ceased in late 1929 due to the economic depression and low mineral prices, only to reopen again in 1931. It operated in a limited capacity until 1936 when it was forced to close due to the importation of cheaper arsenic.

Burma Malay Tin Ltd. purchased the Ottery and commenced operations in June 1938. The company imported floatation equipment and constructed a freshwater dam for the storage of boiler feed and dressing water (Toyer and Main 1980: 5; Godden 1981: 3). No arsenic production occured at this time. Prolonged dry weather forced the close of operations in 1940 and the company pulled down the plant buildings and equipment and transferred them to other sites.

From 1956-7 the Guardian Trading and Investment Company Pty. Ltd. reconditioned the mill and set up equipment to treat the remains of the old calcine dump. Further minor attempts were made to mine and treat the dumps but no further major mining operations were established.

In 1993 Ottery was rehabilitated in a joint project by the Department of Conservation and Land Management and the Department of Mineral Resources. This included: reducing the pollution of contaminated water/sediemts in the area; improving fencing around the structures, many of which were unstable; fencing and covering open shafts and erecting walkways and viewing platforms.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Mining-Activities associated with the identification, extraction, processing and distribution of mineral ores, precious stones and other such inorganic substances. (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Ottery Mine is the only arsenic refinery plant remaining in any condition in New South Wales. It is the oldest principal ore refinery in Australia. Ore from the site was smelted at Australia's first tin smelter. It was one of the first underground mines in the Emmaville area and largely responsible for the economic and social development of the town.

The tin dressing plant represents the fluctuating fortunes of the tin mining industry.

The Ottery also has historical links to the wool industry, as arsenic was the principal ingredient in sheep dip.
(Godden 1981: 7-8)


"With production commencing in 1882, the Ottery Mine is one of the oldest underground mines in the Emmaville District. Emmaville, Torrington and neighbouring towns developed from the mining industry. As such, the Ottery mine is an integral part of the history of the area. It represents the fluctuating fortunes of those who mined the Ottery tin lodes in the late nineteenth century and those who produced arsenic in the early twentieth century. Both tin and arsenic were extracted after 1927.
"(SHR: Criterion a) Local and State significance." (Steding 2003: 20)


"The Ottery arsenic refinery is the oldest principal ore refinery in Australia. Arsenic mining ceased in Australia in 1952 and in New South Wales in 1936, as the Ottery Mine ended production. As Godden suggests, it is unlikely that the mining of this resource will take place again, since the Bolidan copper mine in Sweden produces enough arsenic as a by-product to satisfy world demand.
"(SHR: Criterion a and f) State significance." (Steding 2003: 20)
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
"The Ottery Mine is associated with Tent Hill, location of the first tin mine in Australia. The tin ore was concentrated initially and later smelted, at Tent Hill, the site of Australia’s first tin smelter.
"(SHR: Criterion b, Association) Local and State significance." (Steding 2003: 20)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The site is an intergral part of the Emmaville mining landscape. (Godden 1981: 6)


"Substantial structural remains from the arsenic treatment plant and the intricately constructed brick checker-work condensation chambers, afford this site aesthetic and architectural significance. The Ottery arsenic treatment plant is particularly unique in Australia for its design, thought to be Portuguese.
"(SHR: Criterion c) Local and State significance." (Steding 2003: 20-1)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Emmaville owes its existence to the discovery of alluvial and lode tin. Ottery, as one of the first and largest underground mining operations in the area, holds an important place for the local community in the history of their economic and social development. (Toyer and Main 1980: 3)


"The Ottery Mine is an integral part of Australia’s mining history in the northern NSW region. It was once a major place of employment for many people, the descendents of whom still live in neighbouring towns. The Ottery Mine is also important to local organisations as a tourist site. Such groups include the Glenn Innes Historical Society, the Gem and Mineral Club and Emmaville Tourism & Progress Association. While its relative isolation may limit the number of visitors, the site is actively promoted through literature, signage and community support.
"(SHR: Criterion d) Local significance." (Steding 2003: 21)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The design of the Ottery arsenic plant is unique in Australia. It is the most complete and complex of the arsenic refinery sites. It is an excellent example of a traditional method of industrial processing.

The site has a unique potential to provide information about the mining and extraction of arsenic, for students of geology, archaeology and industrial process. No detailed plans of the site or individual structures are known to exist. The site can therefore provide information not available from any other source.
(Godden 1981: 7-9)
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
"The Ottery arsenic refinery is the oldest principal ore refinery in Australia. Arsenic mining ceased in Australia in 1952 and in New South Wales in 1936, as the Ottery Mine ended production. As Godden suggests, it is unlikely that the mining of this resource will take place again, since the Bolidan copper mine in Sweden produces enough arsenic as a by-product to satisfy world demand.
"(SHR: Criterion a and f) State significance." (Steding 2003: 20)


"The Ottery Mine is one of only four arsenic mines in Australia. These are the Ottery and Mole River mines in New South Wales and two mines in Queensland. Only the Ottery and Mole River mines were equipped with on-site refining plants capable of producing the final product.
"(SHR: Criterion f) Local and State significance." (Steding 2003: 21)


"The arsenic refinery is the best preserved of the sublimation type arsenic refineries. It is believed to be one of the last arsenic refinery relics of this type anywhere in the world. As such, it has international as well as national significance.
"(SHR: Criterion f) State significance." (Steding 2003: 21)
Integrity/Intactness: The structures on the site are in ruins, but their potential to yield information about the site remains.


"Ottery Mine and its site shows a continuity of historical process and activity in relation to the operation of the mine for a period of 60 years. Although demolition, structural deterioration and disturbance of mine workings has occurred, substantial structural remains have survived upon a largely in tact mining landscape. The mine presents an excellent and rare opportunity to gain insights into the past.
"State significance." (Steding 2003: 21-2)
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0039202 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0039230 Aug 85 1224627
Local Environmental PlanSevern Local Environmental Plan heritage item 27 Dec 91   
National Trust of Australia register 1979    

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenDon Godden1981The Ottery Mine: A Report to the Heritage Council of New South Wales
WrittenG.S. Toyer and S. Main1980Environmental Investigations and Rehabilitation Considerations at the Ottery Mine, Emmaville NSW
WrittenLouise Steding, Stedinger Associates (Heritage & Archaeology)2003"Proposed Rehabilitation Works at the Ottery Mine, Emmaville NSW: Excavation Permit Application and Research Design"
TourismMining Legacies Ottery Arsenic Mine View detail

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045692
File number: S90/06178 & HC 32087


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