The Anchor mine and its stampers have had a checkered history from opening in 1880 to finally closing in 1996. We encourage you to visit this interesting site and to read about the mine’s history.
How to find the Anchor stampers in Tasmania
This is a 2.5 hour excursion. There is a 40 minute drive each way and a 30 minute walk. Then of course you should enjoy a picnic lunch or a meal at a local hotel!
From Tin Dragon Trail Cottages you turn right onto the Tasman Highway (A3). Then you drive up over the hill out of Branxholm, before continuing along the Tasman Highway through Derby, Moorina to Weldborough (26 Km). From Welborough driving on the A3 you will pass the Little Plains Lookout (6.8 km from Welborough). The Anchor Road turn-off is 17 km from Weldborough. Less than 1 km along the Anchor Rd is a turn-off to the right for Halls Falls. But you will continue another 4 km on Anchor Road, cross the Groom R bridge & look for the Anchor stampers signage. The Anchor Road is a well maintained gravel road suitable for the family sedan car.
Easy 30 min return walk to the Anchor stampers
The heritage stampers (1930)
The battery at this site consists of 2 sets of 10-head stamps, which were relocated from Tasmania’s west coast in the 1930’s. A Gardener diesel powered the stampers motor till the mine closure in 1950.
Brief history of the Anchor Tin Mine in Tasmania
Following the discovery of alluvial tin in the Groom River during 1880, Arthur Hodge and James Robinson worked the original Anchor leases on “tribute”. The tribute system involved a self-employed miner agreeing to share the profits of his labour with a mine manager in return for the use of the mine property.
The Anchor Mine Mining Co NL was floated on the Hobart stock exchange in September 1882. The Anchor Mining Company used the capital raised from the float to replace the alluvial mining with an open-cut lode mine. The company opened two faces into the steep hillside at the site. In addition they erected a crushing and concentrating plant and installed the famous water wheel. However the company soon closed and sold the mine only two years later.
Tasmania’s largest waterwheel drove the original Anchor stampers
The waterwheel (the largest in Tasmania) could power a 40-head stamper battery and was an estimated 20m across, 1.34m wide and 100 tonnes. Water to drive the wheel was diverted from many streams and water races. In fact ten tonnes of water was required for just one revolution of the wheel. However, an inadequate supply of water meant that only about 30 of the 40 stampers could be used.
Most lode tin mines had a crushing battery to reduce the ore to fine particles ready for further extraction treatment. In the 1880’s the Anchor Mine in Tasmania had an enormous crushing battery of 100 stamps.
This type of crushing machinery was called a gravity stamp, because the engine lifted a series of heavy iron rods then let them drop onto the ore in the mortar box. So gravity did the work of crushing the stone. When the stone particles were small enough they splashed out through a screen and went to a shaking table known as a Wilfley table. The Anchor stampers were not very efficient, but were popular in the Tasmanian bush because they were simple, strong and easy to maintain.
The Anchor mine sold then re-sold…
There were many further attempts to re-open the mine, with the final chapter in January 1989 when the New Zealand based Spectrum Resources re-opened the mine. But after only two years of operation and expenditure of around $7 million the Company closed the mine again.
Then in 1994 Mancala Pty Ltd acquired the mine. They produced tin till 1996.
Graham and I first saw the Anchor mine (and old stampers) in 1997–one year after Mancala turned off the plant. The power lines were still live at the mine site. The extraction plant looked like the switch had just been flicked off because there were rocks still on the conveyer belt and half-filled bags of tin sitting abandoned. Workers had even left their jackets behind.
Final close-down of the Anchor Mine
In 2007 after heavy rain a dam built for the mine collapsed and washed away a large section of the visitor walking track. The wash-out was spectacular and indicated the level of force behind the escaping water! (We suspect it may have been more than rain fall that caused the dam wall wash-out…).
Then after several years, Forestry Tasmania constructed a new walking track, car park and Anchor stampers viewing platform. The mining company removed all the plant equipment from the new mine site and blocked the entrances to the mines.
See a working stamper in Beaconsfield
The Grub Shaft mine museum in Beaconsfield has a working display of an old water wheel and stamper battery, which was reconstructed from parts obtained in the Blue Tiers.
Off the beaten track in North East Tasmania
Please read our Blog pages to learn about other interesting places to visit in our region!