The gossan outcrop of the Red Lead Mine was discovered in 1890 by Thomas Page, of Zeehan, and was worked intermittently for approximately four years as the Dundas Extended Mine.
During this time an eighty foot shaft was sunk to intersect the lode, and a connecting adit was driven 300 feet to intersect it.
Despite extensive tunnelling on this lode and several smaller lodes, no un-oxidised ore was found, and the mine was abandoned with no production recorded.
This mine was the first recorded occurrence of the mineral crocoite in this mineral district. Specimens far surpassed those from the original Russian locality in terms of crystallographic perfection and size, and created a sensation amongst mineralogists at the turn of last century.
Mention was made in the Zeehan & Dundas Herald in 1894 of the spectacular display of crocoite evident in the roof of the main adit.
The mine was once again under lease in 1902, and worked for two years, this time for ferromanganese flux for the Zeehan smelters. During this time over 2400 tons of flux was trucked to the smelters, to win the approximately five grams per ton silver content.
It was during this time that a connecting adit from the base of the shaft to a lode approximately 100 metres to the east was put in. This lode was approximately two metres wide and was stoped to the surface in one section. Judging by the specimens recently found in the upper levels of the stope, where crystals to 10cm are not uncommon, there must have been large quantities of crocoite sent to the smelters. Recent exploration has shown that large sections of this lode are still available for mining, this time for crocoite specimens.
The first mention of the name "Red Lead Mine" was in 1925 in a report on the district. This report made mention of adits high on the eastern side of the hill. These workings postdate that of the flux mining period, and are quite separate from the original Dundas Extended workings.
The mine laid idle for nearly fifty years, until the mid seventies, when a succession of miners tried their luck searching for crocoite. This time with modern machinery the idea was to open cut the hill in the vicinity of the lodes. Over the last thirty years this has resulted in an open cut over three hectares in extent, to a depth of twenty metres below the top of the hill.
Shane Dohnt purchased the mine in 1986, and has worked it since for crocoite, initially continuing with the open cut, and more recently with the plan of opening up the lodes below surface to reduce environmental impact and to access potentially rich areas too deep for open cut mining.
The company has a policy of not allowing unsupervised visitors, and trespassers will be prosecuted.
If you are visiting Tasmania, I will show you around the mining operation, if time permits.