Limestone


King Solomon's Caves at Mole Creek, 1952 (AOT, PH30/1/3307)

Tasmania is well endowed with deposits of limestone, which range from ancient Ordovician (400 million years old) to relatively recent lime sands, many of which have been quarried for a variety of purposes. Limestone is currently used in metallurgical works and road construction, and in the manufacture of cement and agricultural lime. In previous years limestone was used in the manufacture of calcium carbide, newsprint and paper, and as flux in the smelting of copper and iron.

The better quality the limestone the more soluble it is. Spectacular cave systems have developed in limestone in many places, such as those near Mole Creek, Gunns Plains and at Lune River. Bender's Quarry at Lune River, where metallurgical grade limestone was quarried, was closed by the commonwealth government in 1994 to protect nearby Exit Cave.

At Railton, a deposit of limestone nearly 900 metres thick is the major raw material used in the nearby cement works, which produces Portland cement for the Tasmanian market and for export. Dolomite is quarried at Smithton and Cressy for use in agriculture, while at Mole Creek agricultural lime and quicklime are produced. Limestone is mined at Flowery Gully for agricultural use and road construction.

Further reading: V Threader, 'Limestone Tasmania', in C Knight (ed), Economic geology of Australia and Papua New Guinea 4, Melbourne, 1975.

Carol Bacon