Iron Knob Progress Association - Preserving our past, forging our future.
Content and images © Iron Knob Progress Assoc and respective contributors 2009 - 2015
[Home] [Visitor Information] [Errappa Camp] [Mine Tours]
History of Iron Knob page 2

The following is a section of the history of Iron Knob taken from the Booklet ' The Iron Knob Experience -
November 1999. Copies maybe purchased from the Iron Knob Tourist Centre.

1802         On March 9th;  Matthew Flinders surveyed  the areas  around the  (now) Whyalla  and surrounding  areas. The following words were written by Captain Matthew Flinders on that day. " I have examined on the western side of a squat hill apparently rising directly from a broad bay with a low sandy shore rising gradually. Here the adjacent mud banks appear to
be frequented by a large number of ducks and black swans. I have named this spot Hummock Mount.

Matthew Flinders named about 140 of the prominent landmarks including Mount Middleback, Middle Mount, Hummock Mount and (later Hummock Hill) and Point Lowly. 12

1814            Hummock Mount appeared as a small dot on the Admiralty Maps 12 

1840            Edward John Eyre recorded in his journals that on September 18th; he climbed a hill that was formed ' principally of  ironstone  formation.' It  has subsequently been  established that  this  hill  was Iron Baron or  Iron Prince  (most likely Iron Baron). 2

1848         A report issued in late 1848 lists copper, lead, zinc and manganese as the ' only ones yet discovered in  the colony '. 12 No mention of ironstone as yet.

1849             On April 20, 1849 a Mr Trewartha (mine Surveyor and Toller of Crown Lands) lists iron as one of the chief metallic minerals  occurring in  South Australia  and briefly describes  the principal  deposits, but  does  not mention  the   Middleback Ranges or Iron Knob. In September of that same year, he reported a ' large body of iron near Trumpy Bay but again makes no mention of Iron Knob or the Middleback Ranges.

1849 - 1854    The Discovery of Iron Knob must have been between 149 and 1854 as it is not mentioned in an 1849 report on South Australian mineral resources, but appears on a grazing lease application dated 1854. There is no record of when or  by whom Iron Knob was named. Nevertheless, clearly the presence of iron rich rocks was recognised.

1861           In 1861, Abraham Scott took up 56 square miles. He abandoned his efforts after seven years. In 1868 his holdings were transferred to Sir John Morphett and Sir Samuel Davenport. 13   

Corunna Station was taken up for pastoral purposes.5    

1878            Sir Samuel Davenport was aware of the Iron Knob deposit in 1878 and he exhibited specimens of Iron Knob ore at the Colonial  and Indian Exhibition in London 1886.

1888            The smelters at Port Pirie were established. On June 6th, 1888, William Jones, a prospector from Broken Hill, was the first applicant for a mining lease south of Corunna Station. Permission was not granted until 1890.  

1890            Between 1888 and 1891, there were 34 applications to mine in the area south of Corunna Station5.
The discovery of silver underneath a cap of iron ore at Broken Hill probably spurred a renewed interest in Iron Knob in the belief that a similar deposit existed there. 14

The Iron Monarch Company sank several shafts near Iron Knob but only found copper.

In the ' Port Augusta Despatch ' of December 12th 1891, a Mr. WT Campbell was reported as estimating the presence of at least a million tons of iron. According to above newspaper, on November 12th 1891, the Iron Monarch Syndicate had become the Mount Minden Mining Company. There was great objection to the registration of the former name for the group. 11

Mr John Ferry, Mr John Steicke, a blacksmith from Caltowie and a man named Bill Howie observed the mountains of ore at Iron Knob while passing through the district on the way to Streaky Bay. On their return trip to Caltowie they informed Mr. E Siekman, Mr Ferry's father in law. Mr E Siekmann formed a syndicate and named it after his birthplace in Germany - Minden. (please read note below from the Great grand son of Mr Siekmann.)

"There is an inaccuracy in your text relating to the founder of the Mount Minden Mining Co. His name was Ernst Siekmann (my great grandfather) and he became an Australian citizen in 1865. He was not German but came from Prussia, where he grew up in the town of Minden. The story of his connection with Iron Knob is much more complex than you indicate. A fuller yet brief account is given in an article I have written for the State Library's SA Memory website. I would be beholden to you to check this out, and to correct the text. Many thanks.
Peter Brinkworth"
Link to the Library's SA Memory website:>>

The syndicate pegged out thirteen 40 acre mineral leases, which was part of a pastoral lease owned by Sir Samual Davenport and his son in law, John Morphett named Corunna. Mr Sutherland, who was manager of the station also took out a parcel of shares.

Mr Ferry said the syndicate sank a hole 100 foot deep on the east face about two third's up and drove in about 25 feet. They also sank one on the western side of the Pinnacles.

1891            The new company, formed by Ernst Siekman and other local people and was registered as a non-liability company on May 13, 1891. This company was named the Mount Minden Mining Company. The company worked their leases at the Iron Knob and Iron Monarch deposits.

Iron Ore Production - Iron Knob and Middleback Ranges

Year                                           Tonnes

1900-1910                                   524,000
1911-1920                                 1,874,000
1921-1930                                 6,344,000
1931-1940                                14,839,000
1941-1950                                19,971,000
1951-1960                                30,702,000
1961-1970                                50,828,000
1971-1980                                43,120,000
1981-1990                                19,851,000
1991-1997                                19,219,000
                         207,000,000      Continued page 3

5  -  '60 Years of Whyalla' - 1974
12 -' Iron Ore mining in  South Australia ' - LPD BHP Steel.
13 - ' Ribbon of Steel ' by Sue Scheiffers
Iron Knob Banner images from Iron Knob and surrounding area
Photograph of Ernst Siekmann supplied by Mr Brinkworth.

Photograph on right supplied by BHP Archives.