11. Delprat Shaft - 1900
Guillaume Daniel [G.D.] Delprat, after whom this shaft was named, was a Dutch-Australian metallurgist and mining engineer. An astute businessman, Delprat was BHP’s General Manager from 1899 to 1921. He played an important part in the perfecting of a technique that came to be known as the [C.V.] Potter-Delprat flotation process; it revolutionized sulphide ore treatment and brought enormous profits from the metal content of millions of tons [tonnes] of formerly useless tailings.and a developer of the flotation process, which entails separating valuable minerals from gangue (mined rock that is not ore) with water.
The Delprat shaft was sunk in 1900. In 1952, the original wooden headframe was replaced by the present steel structure, and an electric winder replaced a steam engine. The early steam engines used to power mining machinery in the early twentieth century were powered by boilers fuelled by local firewood. Timber was also cut for use in buildings and headframes.
The shaft was closed to mining by the time MMM (mining for metal and minerals) ceased operations in August 1976. It became a tourist mine in 1977, and its closure in 2007 was due to nearby remnant mining operations by CBH Resources.
Audio transcript available.