BHP / Onesteel / Arrium Tramways

The Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP) has had a long association with Eyre Peninsula, and has operated two 'tramways' on the Peninsula. The first to open was the 3' 6" gauge line from Hummock Hill (now Whyalla) to Iron Knob, in 1901. At the time the iron ore was shipped across Spencer Gulf to Port Pirie for use as a flux in the smelters where silver-lead ores from Broken Hill were processed. This Tramway pre-dated the SAR's Port Lincoln lines by six years. A branch to Iron Baron was opened in 1930, and that line was in turn extended to Iron Duke in 1990.

The small company town at Hummock Hill was proclaimed as Whyalla in 1914. Then in 1915, shipments of iron ore began to BHP's newly-established Newcastle steelworks. A blast furnace was opened at Whyalla in 1941, and a full steelworks in the early 1960s.

BHP ended its association with Whyalla in 2000 when the iron ore mines, processing and shipping facilities, steelworks, and associated railway infrastructure were 'spun off' into a new company, Onesteel Ltd. Onesteel embarked on a major upgrade program to use magnetite ore (delivered via a new slurry pipeline from the Middleback Range) in the Whyalla blast furnace. Rail haulage of hematite continues, with increased domestic and export shipping. Onesteel changed its name to Arrium in 2012.

In addition to the tramways based on Whyalla, BHP also operated a standard gauge line from Port Lincoln to the limesand deposits near Coffin Bay. This line opened in 1966, but operations ceased in 1989 and the line was dismantled in 2001.

BHP Coffin Bay Port Lincoln: DE02 shunting limesand gondolas, Feb 1986.

Photo: John Dennis

BHP Whyalla Iron Duke: DE1 and two CKs on an ore train, May 2003.

Photo: Martin Thobaven