Peko Mine

Tennant Creek Mining Application – 1903 Mining Act – Tennant Creek Register
Lease Number – 324
Area – 40 acres
Applicant – William Bohning; Joseph Kaczinski.
Location – approximately 6 miles east of the Pinnacles and 2 miles north of the Rising Sun
Name – Peko
Date – 12 May 1934

                 A tribute to Joe Kaczinski, a dear friend of my father Frank William Griggs, 1934 to 1953.
Little did Joe know that in time the gold bearing rock cave that his blue-heeler dog “Peko” discovered made Peko Wallsend world known. Joe sold his lease to .. (check- Rudolph Schmidt of Alroy Downs, Schmidt then sold to ..)
From the sale money Joe retired to the Roper River for the fishing.”            written by Iris Griggs
(it is suggested that the pup was named Peko, because his kennel was a “Pekoe” tea chest)

The Peko Mine was located in 1934 and small gold mining operations commenced that year, and is situated ten kilometres east from Tennant Creek, and the gold mine lies on an extensive alluvial plain, common to the Tennant Creek goldfield. This flat lying area is almost devoid of rock outcrops with the exception of a single massive blue-black quartz hematite body. There was no indication of copper above 200feet level and in the sixteen year period 1935-1951 a mere 16,080 tons of ore were extracted, assaying about 15dwts to the ton.
Activities were terminated in 1942 during World War 2.
In 1947 a company Peko Gold Mines No Liability was formed, managed by Mr W MacDonald and has recently started to dewater the mine as a preliminary step towards further mining activity.
The company in 1950 erected its own treatment plant for the extraction of gold and copper from the ore. The low recovery by amalgamation is reported to be due to the very fine grainsize of the gold and the readiness of the ore to “slime”
The mine is reached by following a well-formed sealed road from the township to the No3 Government Battery and then due east along a fire ploughed road. The road is traversable for most of the year, but is impassable for a short period during the annual wet season from December to February.

The surface and underground plans … all levels except the 210 foot level were accessible at this time. Some of the levels had native timbers of carbeen, snappy gum and mulga used as supports.
A small but rich dome of oxidised copper ore had been driven through on the 200foot level in 1950. With limited funds available at the time, assessment of the ore-body was slow and cautious.
by early 1953 it became apparent that a body of copper was coming into existence; fresh capital was called in and the Company started to develop the mine and to erect a plant to produce copper concentrate.
Orlando Mine ..Ivanhoe Mine .. Juno Mine
Peko Mines operates as a subsidiary of Peko-Wallsend Investments Limited, which has interests in coal, beach sands, and tin as well as copper gold and silver

David Tapsell Collection:  (includes 21 photographs and comment)
I worked at the Peko Mine in 1968–69 as the Engineering Draftsman; in 1973 I returned to the company in the same position, but now based at the Warrego Mine. In 1968, Peko-Wallsend Pty. had several mines operating in the Tennant Creek district: Peko, Juno, Orlando, Ivanhoe, and Warrego which was due to begin production in 1970 or ’71. When I first saw the Warrego Mine, in October 1968, the (main) shaft sinkers had got down to approximately 120 feet from the surface. The main output of these mines was copper and gold; and bismuth in smaller amounts.

The Peko Mine was originally sunk as a gold mine, but as the mine deepened copper was found in significant quantities, and years later more gold was found under the copper. Some of the copper was so pure that superb examples of ‘native copper’ could be found underground; but the best example of native copper I have came from the Orlando Mine. The Peko Mine closed in the mid-1970s, and not much of the place remains, although the remaining thousands of tons of ‘tailings’ are currently being re-assessed for any trace gold, copper or bismuth content. The whole of the Tennant Creek mining district is now being re-examined using the latest methods of finding mineralisation – and perhaps there is even more (payable) gold and copper to be mined there.
Read more – Recollections: David Tapsell

This is the view, in early 1969, of the headframe from the top of a recently constructed fine ore bin. On the right is the underground fitters’ workshop; further back is the winder house and its attached crib room, and even further back are some of the Company houses for the married staff. My accommodation was out of the picture to the right, where the single staff lived.

To the right of the headframe was the underground fitters workshop; beyond the headframe was the winder house. Halfway up the back of the headframe was a shed-like structure, inside of which the bottom-dump skips discharged their loads into the two coarse ore bins located under the shed. From the bottom of the bins the ore was fed via an apron feeder to the 24″ x 36″ jaw crusher – this was where and when the primary stage crushing process took place. At this stage the ore had been reduced to minus 5″ in size; it was then fed onto the belt conveyor (shown centre-left of picture) which took it to the top of the surface stockpile, where it remained until proceeding to the second stage crushing. About 500 tons of copper ore a day went through the jaw crusher.
After the Peko Mine closed in 1975, I think that the headframe was eventually dismantled and re-erected, in a modified form, at the Argo Mine near Tennant Creek. The cost-saving modifications were to operate the headframe to wind a cage/skip in a single compartment of the new shaft, with a counterweight to compensate for the loss of natural balance of the original coupled twin-rope winding system that the Peko shaft had with its two haulage compartments.

The Peko headframe, with the winder house on the right. The hoisting was done by a 350–horsepower AC second motion winder. Hoisting speed of the 2½–ton bottom dump skips was 1,000 feet per minute.

Looking up the steps that ran halfway up one of the legs of the headframe to a walkway across the back of the frame where the skip unloading chutes were located. Access to the top platform was via more steps at the side of the headframe – seen on the left at the top. The top platform on which the two head-sheaves were located was 85 feet from ground level. The twin head-sheaves were 9 ft. diameter.

The twin 9 ft. diameter headsheaves, and their bearing blocks on the top of the headframe. The winding rope at Peko was 1.125 inch diameter, 6 by 7/3 pre-formed Langs lay-flattened strand. The ropes were changed at 18 month intervals. To keep the ropes and sheaves lubricated they were covered in thick grease. Hoisting in the main shaft was done with a 350 hp second motion winder, with liquid rheostat control.

One of the twin winding ropes – the handrail is caked with the lubricating grease that has been flung from the head-sheaves when the winding was at full speed. The winding rope was 1.125″ diameter, and when hoisting 2½–ton bottom-dump skips the winding speed was approximately 1,000 ft. per minute. Hoisting in the main shaft was done with a 350–hp second motion winder, with liquid rheostat control.

Looking down one of the headframe legs from the top platform level. Attached to the winder house was the crib room.
Centre of the picture is the fan on top of a vent shaft; on the left a front-end loader cleans up material that has spilled from the conveyors. The main ventilation of the Peko Mine was by a 54″ Aerex G-series axial flow fan driven by a 25–hp electric motor, and exhausting about 50,000 cfm. A second surface fan exhausted the upper section of the mine; this was a 12.5–hp Richardson fan pulling about 15,000 cfm. Auxiliary ventilation underground was provided by 5 hp, 15″ Meco electric fans and 12″ Meco air fans. This photo was taken from the top of a fine–ore bin.
In this photograph, taken in December 1968, the two cages are held just above the shaft collar level – the safety gate is open on the left shaft compartment. The cages were used for hauling men and equipment between the underground levels and the surface. On the rail track turntable can be seen a trolley carrying oxygen and acetylene (or propane) cylinders, and a cutting torch on long hoses. Next to the trolley is a side-tipping ore truck body.
The space above the shaft collar, inside the headframe, is known as the sky-shaft – where the skips were hauled up into (above ground level) so they could discharge their contents into the coarse ore bins. In the background can be seen buildings that were part of the Mill area – where the post-crushing process of ore grinding and flotation took place.
Peko Mine had a three-compartment main shaft, 15′-10″ x 4′-6″ inside the timbers. Shaft timber work consisted of 8″ x 8″ oregon frame sets, and swung at 6 ft centres. The shaft guides were 6″ x 4″ karri timber, bolted to angle-iron brackets. The cages and skips were equipped with safety grippers and rubber-tyred rollers running on the timber shaft guides.
The cages used in the main shaft were 3′-10″ x 4′-2″ inside by 9′-7″ high. Each cage could carry up to eight men – or one Eimco 12B bogger on its own. Hoisting of ore was done in 2.5 ton capacity bottom dump skips at a rate of 1,000 feet per minute from loading stations at the 920′, 1,040′ and 1,190′ levels. In late 1968 I began the drawings of a new loading station for the 1,320 ft level.
The underground levels were spaced 150 ft. apart; the main cross-cuts were 11′ wide by 7′ high and drives were 7′ wide by 7′ high. Draw-point cross-cuts were also 7′ x 7′ – with an average spacing of 30ft. Raises were generally 5′ x 5′ in cross-section; sub-level drives were 6′ wide by 5′ high. Long raises were usually done at 60° inclination, using pipe ladders pinned to the slope.
About 100,000 gallons of water were pumped daily out of the Peko Mine; this was done by Ajax 2L-3 all-bronze pumps mounted in tandem units and driven by a 25 hp motor. There were two pump units, with independent rising mains on main sumps at 300 to 400 ft intervals. Inter-level drainage to the main sumps was through AX diamond-drill holes. PVC pipe was used in the rising mains as the original galvanised pipe was unable to cope with the severe corrosion.
The top of the Peko Mine main shaft in December 1968. Under the headframe can be seen two 2½–ton bottom-dump skips suspended next to the shaft collar as both shaft compartments were hauling cages when the photo was taken. In the left-centre of the picture are a couple of the so-called boggers – these are Eimco 12B loaders, or rocker shovels — they were used underground for loading ore into waiting trucks; the one on the left has its destination chalked on its side – the mine level at 980 feet below the surface. These machines were powered by compressed air; they were worked very hard and had to be sent up to the surface frequently for repair work in the underground fitters’ workshop which was adjacent to the headframe. In the immediate foreground is an upturned, side-tipping ore truck chassis. The gauge of the underground rail track at Peko was only 18-in.; whereas, when the Warrego Mine (40-odd miles to the west of the Peko Mine) began operations in about 1970 all the underground track work used 24-inch gauge. At ground level, under the crane hook on the right of the picture, was a small steel turntable used to rotate tracked equipment, like trucks and boggers, by 90° to line them up with the short track into the workshop.
The secondary stage ore crushing process was done by a Symons cone crusher – almost hidden by the steel work surrounding it, although its large electric motor can be seen in the centre of the photo. The minus-5″ ore fed into this 4¼ ft. diameter rotary cone crusher was finally reduced to less than ¾” in size. Any oversize ore that did get through the cone crusher was intercepted by an 8 ft. x 4 ft. vibratory screen, which rejected it and re-routed it back into the crushing circuit, to repeat the crushing operation.
Following the crushing process was the grinding process: this was done initially in rotating rod mills to reduce the ore even further (to minus 14 mesh), and then in ball mills to less than 300 mesh.

In January 1969 an old and redundant ball mill had been refurbished with new bearings and liners, and installed as part of an auxiliary grinding circuit. It was fed by a screw conveyor, and the ground product from the mill was taken by bucket elevator to the top of a new storage bin.
February 1969: refurbished ball mill had been charged with new 1-inch diameter balls for final grinding of ore.

Bucket Elevator February 1969: the elevator for handling the final ground ore.
This was the view looking approximately north from the top of the headframe. The circular tanks are part of the ore treatment plant known as the Mill; behind them is a fenced-off compound that was part of the stores department – in there was the stock of steel plates, structural sections, pipes, timber, and anything else that could be left outside.
Running across the photo from left to right is the road from Tennant Creek, the Peko Road; and the other side of it, on the right, can be seen part of the tailings dam. On the left is a new fine ore bin, from the top of which I took several photos of the mine area.

The ore treatment area took place in what was known as The Mill. This was the post-crushing and grinding part of the ore treatment process and it involved numerous conveyors, pumps, pipework, thickening tanks, flotation equipment, cyclones, agitators, scrubbers and so on. It was a great tangle of pipes, tanks, steps, walkways and handrails, etc. And being a continuous process operation it kept going night and day, week after week, on a three-shift system.
The Peko Mine had two principal end products: gold and copper. Pure gold (bullion) left the mine in the form of a brick-sized ingot; copper left the mine in the form of bagged concentrate. The concentrate was partially pure (unsmelted) powder, very heavy and very dirty stuff, that was dried in the sun before being bagged up and transported by road trains down the Stuart Highway to the railhead at Alice Springs, where it was transhipped to railway wagons for the journey south to Port Augusta. From there it was shipped to Japan where it was smelted into pure copper. Due to the unavoidable heavy charges for freight (road, rail and ship) from Tennant Creek, the concentrate was ideally at least 26.5% pure copper.
This rake of pots on rail trucks were moved along a short length of railway track (5 ft. gauge) at Peko; traction was provided by an old Massey Ferguson tractor which shoved them up and down the track. The sides of the pots were dented with repeated nudging with the front bucket mounted on the tractor. The stencilled lettering on the side of each pot said, “FULL TO PORT KEMBLA. EMPTY TO TENNANT CREEK”. So, before my time at the Peko Mine, the concentrate had been transported, by truck and train, all the way south while remaining in the pots. What happened to the concentrate at the docks remains unknown to me — perhaps someone else knows.


The power house at the Peko Mine contained several large diesel engines that drove generators to provide not only all the 33 kv electricity that the mines needed (including the Juno, Ivanhoe and Orlando mines) but a 11 kv supply for the township of Tennant Creek as well. I cannot remember now what make the engines were, except that they were built in England. When the Warrego Mine was up and running the new power house there contained five Mirrlees K8 Major diesel engines to drive the generators – which supplied electricity to the mine, the new township, and later on, the copper smelter that had been built seven miles from Warrego.
In 1968 one of my projects was to design a bridge across the main road through the mine workshops and mill area. This bridge had initially to carry a large bore pipe to carry water to the mill across a span of 60 feet and at a height of nearly 20 feet above the ground to allow mobile cranes to pass beneath it – and it had to be built quickly and if possible with materials already on site, because to order anything heavy meant it had to be transported up from South Australia, and that could take weeks to arrive (by train to the Alice Springs rail-head, then by truck to Tennant Creek). However, suitable lengths of steel channel and large bore pipe were readily available in the store compound; the suspension cable was an off-cut of 1-1/8 inch diameter redundant winding rope from the Peko main shaft (the winding ropes were changed every 18 months).


Single Men’s Quarters


1975 … Mick and Marion Meagher’s photos taken from “Iron Stone Hill” – the solitary rock outcrop at Peko Mine, and the location where Joe’s blue heeler dog “Peko” found a cave.

This outcrop had the water tanks on it and was also a popular place for the Peko children to climb and explore the pipes, rocks and man made cave, which was previously used for storing gelignite out of the heat in the early days.


1989 …


photos recollections – David Tapsell, Patrick Kenny, Stan Thompson, Iris Griggs, Mick and Marion Meagher : State Library of Victoria – JD Holt
Geological report on Peko   1950
Peko Mines NL Tennant Creek – Points of Interest August 1965

Balfours Mining Claim applications