The Kapunda Mine


AUG 28TH 2020



The Kapunda mine is located in the core of a northwest-trending anticline comprised of metasediment.

Umberatana Group





Three vertical zones were identified: The upper impoverished zone extending to a depth exceeding 50 meters, comprised of leached ore minerals; The lower secondary enrichment zone is around 40 meters thick, reaching around 90 meters; The third and final zone reaching around 30 meters of primary sulphides, the zones shallows to the north.

Tapley Hill Formation

Siltstone, grey to black, dolomitic and pyritic grading upwards to calcareous, thinly laminated, locally cross-bedded; dolomite, grey, flaggy to massive; limestone conglomerate, intraformational; greywacke.

The Tapley Hill Formation is heavily kaolinised, fine-grained and is metasedimentary, 

Blue decomposed slate is associated with more metallic minerals to the East and the North, red soapstone is visible on the Western edge. While on the Northeast side a dark rocks is visible which dips to the south below the serface but is not seen again until 75 fthoms are met underground.

dolomitic siltstone, minor arkose and shale. 


Min & Max: Sturtian


Quartz / Malachite Veins & The Ore Lode

The Kapunda Mine site hosted four ore lodes with widths from 4 feet to 6 inches, the lodes were facing N. 25 E., these ore lodes were named for convenience:

Main Lode -

Intersected by Cox's Lode at a 25 degree angle.

Cox's Lode -

Sitting at a 25 degree angle and intersects the Main Lode, while also being intersected by Hart's Lode.


Hart's Lode -

Crosses both Cox's and the Main Lode, this lode had the best ore deposits visible.

Final Lode (Not Mentioned or named) - 

No Information Given.

18 1/2 % per ton of metal ore was being mined during the hight of its operation. 


The deposits were related to regionally metamorphosed rocks in a structural-fault, shear, and fracture zone. Early miners recognised an observational relationship between the more highly mineralized areas and the amount of kaolinisation.

The vein systems extended for 730 meters, and to a width of 150 meters, these veins were worked to around a depth of 146 meters.  

The most high-grade ore occurred in quartz veins in kaolinised “shoots.” The lodes occurred in a system of three main collections of veins, the most productive was trending in an NNE direction. The Tapley Hill Formation which hosts the veins is also mineralised but to a much lower degree. The individual ore shoots were around 0.45-1.20 meters wide, and from 45 to 60 meters long.


Copper Staining




The Arches are visible behind the gates leading into the Stockyard Open Cut, they were most likely cut out during mining efforts and not as a natural erosional feature formed after the closure of the mine. This is because a tunnel leads into the Tapley Hill Formation behind the arch as not enough time has elapsed for that type of erosion and collapse to have occured.


The Kapunda Mine

One of the oldest copper mines in South Australia, discovered in 1842, and now a very significant mine to the state of South Australia. The first ore was raised on the 8th of January 1844, with the first 5 dray loads sent to Adelaide that same month on the 23rd of January. This discovery had an effect on mineral exploration in that region as other people also searched the area for copper braring ground. 

The first ore was raised to the surface in 1844 by shovelling the blue/green outcrop into carts, a few months after that, underground mines had also begun expanding well into December of that year. During its first 5 years of operation ore was carted to Port Adelaide and shipped to and smelted at Swansea in Wales. The Kapunda Mine was forced to close in 1851 and re-open in 1855 as the mining towns population dwindled as the Victorian Gold Rush began.

From the beginning and to the end of operations 69,000 tonnes of ore was yielded, 13,700 tonnes of that ore was copper. Copper production peaked in 1857 with ore being transported overseas, smelting works were commissioned around 1852 when an impure metallic form of substance was produced through (reduction) for shipment, later a refining unit was added for the production of high-grade copper products.


During the final stages of operation from 1869 to 1878, a leaching process was added to treat the much lower grade 2.5% copper ore, this produced copper cement until its final days of operation. Mining ceased in 1878 when an eastern drive from the Harris shaft hit the water table at 146 meters, the water flow exceeded 1.3 million litres per day. The ore deposit was worked on occasion until 1912 by miners that worked on small amounts of ore above the water table. 


From Newspaper Articles:


"Francis Dutton, separately discovered copper ore on the surface of the ground, in the county of Light, about 45 miles north from Adelaide. Mr Dutton and Captain Bagot afterwards agreed to purchase the section of 80 acres, keeping of course the secret, and they have thus become, for the sum of £80, the fortunate proprietors of, apparently, one of the most valuable copper mines which has been discovered in any part of the world. Captain Bagot transmitted specimens of the ore to London, for the purpose of being assayed, and received in reply the following highly favourable report of an assay by Mr Percival Johnson:

Copper ................................................32¾

Carb. Acid ...........................................18¾

Water ......................................................8

Oxide of Iron ...........................................21

Earthy matter, chiefly Silex ..................19/100


At which percentage of copper the ore was worth £27 per ton. This mine has been called the Kapunda Copper Mine. Even after the above report, people paid very little attention to the discovery."  The Southern Australian, 22nd of March 1844" - The South Australian, March 22nd 1844.

(£27 Australian pounds in todays currency is equivilent to $50 Australian dollars in 2021.)


By the 4th of June 1879 the mine was sold for liquidation, from its shutdown date to May 1886 it was worked by tributers which all together made around £9,000. A report was realeased on the mines production rate from its beginning to its end of operations, "In Harcu's "South Australia," 1896, Mr. J. B. Austin stated that the quantity raised from the time of the opening of the mine until it was sold averaged 2,000 tons per year, or a total of 70,000 tons". 

"Tributing operations have been carried on successfully at this mine during the period under review, and arrangements are in progress which are expected to result in the mine being fully worked again" - A review of mining operations in the state of South Australia during the year ended June 30th 1906, No° 5 (P. 14).


Mine Adit's

The underground workings cover an area of one kilometre in length in an NNW-trending zone.



Vertical Shafts

A number exceeding more than 29 separate productive ore veins were recorded, various productive branch veins were mined from at least 15 separate vertical shafts. The main lode they were chasing dipps to 30-45° and towards 250° degrees.

In 1845 the underground workings hit the water table, a horse and whim was installed for bailing the water out. By 1847 the horse-drawn whim was incapable of drawing the water out as the shafts got too deep and the water volume was increased. As the water volume became too much a steam engine was bought and transported from England, a second engine only used for pumping was also installed in 1850.


Stockyard Open-Cut

Operations began in 1866


The Kapunda Copper & Gold ISR Project

The latest project to work on the Kapunda Copper Mine started up in 2016 after the permits were agreed through Terramin Ltd. Funding was negotiated with Thor Mining in several stages which incorporated EnviroCopper Pty Ltd during August in 2017. The Light Regional Council approved EnviroCopper to start early-stage investigations in February of that year. In February of 2019, a Joint Venture Agreement was signed and lodged with Terramin Ltd. and with the Department for Energy & Mining (DEM).

With enough historical drilling data from 1965 to 2008, a calculation of the inferred copper could be estimated which came around to 119,000 tonnes. Historical water sampling data indicated that significant amounts of copper are located within the mine's groundwater.

The project is expected to take place in stages and to be in accordance with the South Australian Mining Act of 1971. EnviroCopper was awarded a Commonwealth Government Co-operative Research Centre Grant (CRC-P) in Copper & Gold In-Situ Recovery Mining that was worth $2.8 Million which will fund more research for better environmental outcomes. By 2021 improved economic results and community engagement is expected. 



South Australian Government. (n.d.). SARIG geological map. SARIG. 

The South Australian, Adelaide, SA: 1838 - 1844. (1844, March 22). The Mining Interest. Trove. 

EnviroCopper. (n.d.). The Kapunda Copper & Gold ISR project | EnviroCopper. Environmental Copper Recovery SA Pty Ltd. 

Minister of Mines, South Australian Government. (1906). A review of mining operations in the state of South Australia during the year ended June 30th 1908, No° 5. C. E. Bristow, Government Printer North Terrace. (P. 14). SARIG online store. 

H. Y. L. Brown, F.G.S., W. H. Matthews, M. I. M. M. Lond. (1905). Record of the Mines of South Australia, Supplementary Issue. Minister of Mines, South Australian Government. (PP. 25-26). C. E. Bristow, government printer, North Terrace. State Library of South Australia.

Cowley W.M. and Preiss, W.V. (2016). Mineralisation in the Mid-North. Geological field excursion guide — Rifts, reverse faults and regolith: Neoproterozoic to Cenozoic geology in the Mid-North of South Australia.  (pp. 22–26). Report Book 2016/00013. State Development, South Australia; and Geological Society of Australia, South Australia. SARIG. 

South Australia Department of mines and Energy and Natural Resources. (1990, January). Kapunda Mine, 1–4.

H. Y. L Brown, F.G.S., (1908). Record of the Mines of South Australia. Fourth Edition. Minister of Mines, South Australian Government. (PP. 66-70). C. E. Bristow, government printer, North Terrace. State Library of South Australia. 

Dickinson, S.B. (1944). Structural control of ore deposition in some SA copper fields (Part 2). Kapunda Mines / Blinman Mine / Sliding Rock Mine / Lady Lehmann Mine, South Australia. Geological Survey. Bulletin, 021. Departmental publications.