I didn’t forget to take a few photo’s. But I did forget to take the camera! These were taken with our new Samsung Galaxy S smartphone. The phone is part of our continuous cruising communications strategy which I will post about later. It has an 8MP camera and appears to take good photo’s.
This first photo was only taken to show you the smelter smoke stack. I have been informed it’s the tallest stack in the Southern Hemisphere. The smelter is the world’s leading producer of lead. Other metals refined as by-products include, gold, silver and zinc. Every worker undergo a monthly blood test and if the level of lead in their body is too high they are either “stood down” or placed on alternative duties pending a decline in the level of lead present. Most of the contamination occurs through the mouth. I was informed this is primarily due to poor personal hygiene (failure to wash hands) or cigarette smoking. The refinery is very serious in its efforts to minimise contamination with all employees wearing protective overalls and respirators, or facemasks, anywhere on the site. Also, plastic “bootees” have to be worn over footwear when entering buildings to reduce contamination inside the administration areas.
The majority of the lead and zinc ingots are exported by rail to either Adelaide or Melbourne. I was advised the smelter “only” extracted a few tonnes of gold each year with approximately four times as much silver obtained from the ore. My site escort asked (jokingly) if I’d like one of the grey ingots (lead). However I asked if I could have one of the bright yellow ingots as it was my favourite colour. Unfortunately I’m still poor!
The smelter regularly shuts down for planned maintenance which is mostly completed by off-site contractors who need temporary accommodation. This is probably the main reason why a small town like Port Pirie has so many hotels and motels.
It is unlikely I will be able to update the blog during the coming week. Not only am I likely to be away but our wireless internet gets disconnected on the 19th. The home phone is already disconnected. Soon the packers will be here and we will be on the road heading towards northern New South Wales. Oh, and I’ve received another work inquiry. “Could I complete another small task in Melbourne”!