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4 September 1953 Radium Hill

 4 September 1953 Radium Hill

On 4 September 1953 the manager of the mine at Radium Hill announced the completion of setting up of the uranium mine for initial production would cost £5 million with an annual operating cost of £2 million.

When W.B. Greenwood, who had been prospecting in the Flinders Ranges since the 1890s, sent a specimen of some minerals he had found to Adelaide for analysis in 1910 he probably did not realise the importance of his discovery. Douglas Mawson, lecturer in geology at the University of Adelaide, identified the emerald green material as torbanite which contains uranium. That year the Radium Extraction Company of South Australia was formed and secured leases at Mount Painter, in the northern flinders and at Radium Hill near Olary. In 1923 another company was floated in Melbourne and took over three other smaller companies to become the Australian Radium Corporation and erected a treatment plant and refinery at Dry Creek near Adelaide. But the failure to find high grade ore and the difficulties of the remoteness of the area, lack of water and transport costs, forced the leases to be abandoned in 1928. With the development of atomic research during World War Two the Australian Government decided to work the area again but the end of the war in 1945 terminated the Mount Painter work although Radium Hill operated until1961.

Hans Mincham, The Story of the Flinders Ranges, Rigby, 1964, pp.294-96.

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