The Cooke Plains deposit is South Australia’s largest producer of agricultural gypsum.
It was first discovered in 1876. It wasn’t until 1920, that the deposit was worked to produce seed gypsum for agricultural purposes. This deposit is geologically related to the old lakebed where the gypsum crystallized and was subsequently blown into dune formation, on the South Eastern edge of the lake. The low sodium content is due to the natural leaching process.
COOKE PLAINS GYPSUM today is being used in broad acre farming in all southern regions of South Australia, and Western Victoria. Large quantities are being used in Horticulture, mainly supplying Vineyards, Ovals, Golf Courses and some fertilizer manufacturers, as well as Mushroom Farms in South Australia, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
The Gypsum is mined by use of a front-end loader and then placed through a Screening Plant on site and directly transported to purchasing customers. Customers are also able to load directly into their own vehicles directly at the mine site.
Gypsum is a Hydrated Calcium Sulphate (CaSO4.2H2O)
This deposit was discovered during surveys in 1876 when the land was made perpetual leasehold. First production was not until 1914 when 28 tonne was taken for agricultural use by Mr W. Cummins. Around that period it was found to be unsuitable for plaster manufacture.
The deposit was not again worked until 1925 when it was taken up by several small operators who mined the flower Gypsum for agricultural use. The leases were purchased by Mr. D. Smith in 1927. At that time Gypsum was shovelled into bags, hand loaded onto horse wagons, then loaded onto rail at Cooke Plains. The first Mechanical Bulk loading took place in 1945 when the Smith family purchased a cable operated Fordson Front End Loader along with a 6 tonne tip truck. Gelignite was used to blast the face down until the early 70’s, when bigger four-wheel drive loaders were able to break down the face. Until the 40’s, Gypsum was used only as a soil additive binding boggy soils into usable granules. From then till the mid 1960’s it was used extensively as a retardant in cement manufacture by the Adelaide Cement Company, when they started working their own deposits on Yorke Peninsula. Also Gypsum was used in this period as filler in the manufacturing of Superphosphate.
Norm Paterson became manager of the Gypsum Works in February 1958 and spent many hours carting up to 120 Tonne of Gypsum per day tipping into rail trucks at the local siding, by reversing up a ramp built to the height of the rail wagons and yes I did operate that Cable Fordson Loader.
The Smith Family purchased a bogie axle Bedford in 1964, able to carry a 16 tonne payload. Eventually, Norm purchased all the equipment and subcontracted to the Smith Family.
As the demand and efficiency became more specific, road delivery was used in favour of rail. Paterson Bulk Transport delivers Gypsum far and wide using B-Double Tippers, carrying a 44 tonne payload or Truck and Quad dog trailers able to split load 13 tonne on the truck and 20 Tonne on the trailers.
Our firm belief and dedication to Gypsum has been developed into a beneficial commodity for agriculture in general.