Clay, Sand and Gravel

Sand abounds in Tasmania: this is West Beach at Burnie, 1920 (AOT, PH30/1/799/4)

Clay, sand and gravel, seemingly uninteresting, contribute to the economy to a surprising degree. Clays were one of the first materials used by the early settlers. Good brick-making clay was a prized commodity. Unfortunately, many of the early brick-built structures have not survived because the bricks were made from clay mixed with saltwater, leading to the bricks disintegrating. Brickworks are currently operating at Longford and New Town. Some kaolinite clays have been mined from north-eastern Tasmania and from Surges Bay for use in the manufacture of newsprint. Industries near Granton and Longford used clay to make pipes for industrial and domestic use, but such pipes are now made of plastic.

Sand is used in the manufacture of concrete and for bricklaying, bedding and packing sand used under pipes and concrete foundations, laundry sand and potting mix. Sand from South Arm was used in the manufacture of glass bottles and jars until the 1990s. Currently, high quality silica flour (a very fine sand) is mined at Corinna and exported to Japan for use in producing optical quality glass and lenses.

Gravel is used for road base and surfacing on unsealed roads, and forms the structure of a network of unmade roads across the state and in state forests.

Carol Bacon