1925 - A Geologist's Report and a Road Crossing
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Meade Street, Bulahdelah in early years.

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The Dungog Chronicle.

January 16, 1925.

Since 1890, the quantity of alunite recovered and treated from the Bulahdelah Mountain exceeded 60,489 tons, the value of which was £190,103.

Mr. L. F. Harper, Senior Geological Surveyor, of the Department of Mines, has furnished a report on the deposit. This states that the only workable deposit of alunite yet found in N. S. W., is close to the village of Bullahdelah, on the Myall River, which flows into Port Stephens. The village is about 60 miles north of Newcastle, from which a tri weekly service runs.

Attention was directed to this deposit in 1888, the first lease being taken up in that year by the Australian Alum Company. Since then the company has acquired a much larger area, and worked the deposit more or less continuously to the present time.

As regards to the origin of the deposits, Mr. E. F. Pittman, a former Government Geologist of N. S. W., expressed the opinion that the alteration of the rhyolites by steam and sulphurous acid vapours following the intrusions of dolerite during the Tertiary period was responsible† .....the higher grade mineral occurs only in patches or enrichments of the main body of low grade material† ..... circulation of these vapours along the fault planes and subsidiary cracks led to the alteration of the rhyolite into an impure alunite, and irregular shaped masses and bunches of that mineral were deposited in favourable conditions in open spaces in the fault zone.

It is from these that the supplies of commercial alunite have been obtained, and their intimate association with the fault zones is most marked in all the quarries.

If this explanation be correct, it is evident that the tonnage of commercial alunite is limited, but prospecting operations for further payable deposits, which may not be actually exposed, should be simplified.

In 1890, works were established at Bullahdelah for the production of alum and aluminium sulphate, but local consumption in Australia was too small to result in commercial success.

Consequently, all the suitable material now raised is exported for conversion into the finished products.

The ore is won from open quarries, the higher grade being picked out for shipment, and the lower passed over the dumps.

The exportable material is sent by an incline tramline to bins on the bank of the Myall River, transported by steam punts to Port Stephens, from there it is conveyed to Sydney per steamer, shipped in bulk to Liverpool, England, and treated at the company's works at Runcorn, on the Manchester Ship Canal.

Owing to the nature of the occurrences it is not possible to form an estimate of the ore reserves of commercial alunite, but there is reason to expect that careful prospecting along the fault zones will result in further bodies of good grade alunite being located.


Stroud Shire Council Report

June 12, 1925.

The clerk was instructed to write to Mr. Heighway of the Alum Co., Bullahdelah, requesting that the Bullahdelah - Lower Myall road where their tramline crosses it, be put in order, or the council will do the work and charge them for it.

Copyright © 2000, Malcolm Carrall, Archives Officer, The Bulahdelah & Districts Historical Society Inc., 20 Ann Street, Bulahdelah, New South Wales, Australia, 2423. Original content in these Web pages is copyright. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be produced by any process or any other exclusive right exercised without written permission from the copyright holder. Published by Malcolm Carrall.

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