Rutile and Zircon mining

Rutile and Zircon, found in mineral sands, were mined on King Island's beaches in the 1960s to obtain titanium dioxide, used in paint manufacture, and zirconium dioxide, valuable for its ability to withstand high temperatures. In 1968 mainland company Mount Costigan Mines, through its subsidiary Naracoopa Rutile Ltd, set up a plant at Naracoopa on the east coast of King Island. Production began in 1969, but in three years the plant produced only 20,000 tonnes of rutile and 16,000 tonnes of zircon, due to inadequate reserves and difficulties in recovering the minerals. The company went into receivership in 1972.

In the mid-1970s another mainland company, Buka Minerals, bought the mine and formed Kibuka Mines to manage the operation, but found the same problems, and mining ended in 1977.

Alison Alexander