Townsville Copper Refinery turns 60!

The Townsville Copper Refinery has a rich history to celebrate and recently hosted over 150 employees and family members to a fun-filled day of activities to celebrate its 60th anniversary.

Decked out in personal protective equipment, a little oversized for some of our younger guests, groups headed for a tour of the operational areas of the refinery.

It's not often visitors get the chance to walk through the Tankhouse and Casting House, get up close with the cranes and other machinery in operation, and see how we make copper. The tours piqued great interest and many questions were asked and answered.

The children were kept busy with a jumping castle, laser skirmish and colouring in, while a demonstration using keys immersed in a copper sulphate solution to electroplate copper provided great insight into the copper refining process used in the Tankhouse.

An historical photo display and video presentation of today's refinery showcased our operations from the early days to now, while mobile plant and equipment on display also attracted attention.

To cap off a great day, guests were treated to a gourmet sausage sizzle and celebratory cake.

The family day of celebration was a fitting way to mark the refinery's milestone and pay tribute to its proud history.

The refinery was established in 1959 following the proving of substantial copper ore reserves in the lodes operated by Mount Isa Mines.

Townsville was chosen as a prime location for a refinery thanks to the variety and availability of transportation services. Having railway connections meant that copper could be transported to southern manufacturing facilities and overseas via the Townsville Port.

Land was acquired at Stuart in Townsville in September 1956 and a three-year target date was set for the design, construction and commissioning of the refinery. On 2 October 1959, the Townsville Copper Refinery was opened by the Premier of Queensland, Mr GFR (Frank) Nicklin.

Paul Taylor, Copper Refinery Manager says there have been significant advancements at the refinery over the past 60 years.

"From producing 40,000 tonnes of refined copper per year in 1959, we now have the capacity to produce up to 300,000 tonnes per annum," Paul says.

"And of course the development of the ISA Process Technology at the refinery in the 1970s revolutionised the copper refining world."

Now known as the ISA KIDD Process, this essentially replaced copper cathode starter sheets with stainless steel sheets transforming what was an extremely labour-intensive process and allowing it to be mechanised for the first time.

Our copper refinery in Townsville is one of the world's leading electrolytic copper refineries and the largest in Australia. The refining process purifies copper anode to 99.995% pure, premium-quality ISA brand LME Grade A copper cathode.

The Townsville Copper Refinery is very proud of its commitment to high standards of health, safety, environmental protection and community relations. As we move to the future, we look forward to building on the success of our refining operation.