Three landmark chimneys are on the move at Ravenswood, with the first sections of the old Grant and Sunset Extended Mine chimney dismantled and relocated on Wednesday (February 17).
The relocation of the historical goldfields structures will allow for the progression of Ravenswood Gold’s mining activities at the Buck Reef West open pit.
That operation is part of the Ravenswood Expansion Project (REP) which will see mining continue in the North Queensland township until at least 2035.
Chimneys from the old General Grant Mine and Deep Mine and Mill will also be relocated.
The chimneys vary in height from just over 13m to 18m and are being dismantled in sections braced in steel frames – with each section weighing in at approximately 10 tonnes.
In preparation for the move, specialist heritage bricklayers from Brisbane company Mozbiz (Potrzeba Heritage) conducted extensive repairs to the chimneys including binding large structural cracks.
Maurie Potrzeba from Mozbiz said the first step in forming the sections was to remove bricks from the middle and edges of the chimney to allow for bracing bars to go underneath the section.
“Once we have the main supports positioned through the chimney, we can separate the remaining bricks by cutting through the mortar, then we lower a cage over the section and bolt it all together,” he said.
“When we are doing the lift, we take it very slowly – we check at 10mm, again at 20mm and then at 300mm before we leave the crane to lift that section down.
“We were all grinning ear to ear when we watched the first section coming down – it all went to plan and there were no cracks formed in the chimney which was a good result.”
Ravenswood Gold chief executive officer Brett Fletcher (pictured above) said he was very happy to see the chimney relocation and restoration project underway.
“The chimneys are not only a very important feature in the Ravenswood landscape, but they are a significant aspect of the town’s early mining history,” he said.
“Ravenswood Gold has invested a substantial amount of funding in this project to ensure the chimneys will be around for many future visitors and residents to enjoy and the restoration works have the chimneys looking better than they have for many years.”
Heritage precinct to display mining artefacts
Ravenswood Gold said the chimney sections would be stored within the boundary of the Ravenswood Mining Landscape and Chinese Settlement Area heritage listing. Plans for the relocated chimneys are yet to be finalised.
“Ravenswood Gold is working with the local Ravenswood Restoration and Preservation Association and state heritage on a number of projects including the chimneys,” Mr Fletcher said.
“Currently we are working on the establishment of a heritage precinct to preserve and display several of the larger mining artefacts from the Buck Reef West area including the Duke of Edinburgh boilers and the Deep Mine Mill strongroom.”
Ravenswood Gold and Mozbiz have also completed extensive repair work on Ravenswood’s other chimneys – the Mabel Mill, Sunset No.2 and the General Grant – to restore the structures to their former glory and ensure their survival for many years.
Ravenswood’s chimneys were all constructed in the New Ravenswood era of mining, from 1899 – 1918, during which time new technology, including the use of cyanide, was introduced to local mines leading to the town’s most prosperous years.