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Lake MacDonnell Gypsum Mine, Ceduna, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, Australia

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 32° 1' 37'' South , 133° 4' 57'' East
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): -32.02694,133.08250
Köppen climate type:BSk : Cold semi-arid (steppe) climate

Lake MacDonnell, Australia's largest gypsum mine, developed on deposits of gypsum and salt deposited within a 20km NW-trending depression in calcreted coastal dunes of the Pleistocene Bridgewater Formation. The gypsum and salt formed by natural solar evaporation of marine brines during Holocene times. In the deeper parts of the embayment selenite (rock gypsum) domes were initially deposited from gypsum-saturated brine. Domes pass upward to laminated selenite comprising vertically orientated crystals with layers of aragonite pelletoids. As the volume of brine decreased freshening by meteoric water resulted in cessation of laminated selenite deposition and formation of up to 1m of laminated gypsarenite (seed gypsum). Maximum total thickness of gypsum was 8m, average 3.9m. Main impurities are aragonite and salt, which must be reduced to ~1%. Indicated reserves in 1980 were 575 million tonne at an average grade of 91.3% CaSO4.2H2O in a bed averaging 3.87 m thick. Grade distribution was an upper ~1m zone of gypsarenite at 93% CaSO4, and an underlying zone of selenite at 94-96% CaSO4. Mining commenced in 1919. Workings extend over an area of ~10 x 8 km. Production from 1920-78 was 6,114,938 tonne gypsum. Production for the period 1978-2011 was ~40 million tonne. Annual production is in the order of several 100,000 tonne. After mining, crushing and screening, the salt content of stockpiled gypsum is reduced to acceptable levels by stockpiling on site for several years to allow the leaching action of rainwater. Solar salt has been extracted annually from the western end of the lake since 1968 with 936,608 tonne harvested. Operators are Gypsum Resources Australia (100%), formed in 1984 when CSR and Boral combined separate operations. The gypsum product is railed 64km to a 160,000 tonne stockpile at Thevanard. Gypsum from Lake MacDonnell is mainly used for the manufacture of plaster products for the building industry. It is shipped in bulk to production plants located near major Australian cities.

Mineral List

3 valid minerals.

Regional Geology

This geological map and associated information on rock units at or nearby to the coordinates given for this locality is based on relatively small scale geological maps provided by various national Geological Surveys. This does not necessarily represent the complete geology at this locality but it gives a background for the region in which it is found.

Click on geological units on the map for more information. Click here to view full-screen map on

Holocene - Late Pleistocene
0 - 0.126 Ma

ID: 701803
Yamba Formation

Age: Pleistocene (0 - 0.126 Ma)

Stratigraphic Name: Yamba Formation

Description: Friable pale grey gypsite, gypsiferous clay, grey pelletal gypsum-quartz aggregates, black sulphide-rich mud, ephemeral salt crusts of gypsum, halite, bischofite, thenardite, mirabilite

Comments: regolith; synthesis of multiple published descriptions

Lithology: Regolith

Reference: Raymond, O.L., Liu, S., Gallagher, R., Zhang, W., Highet, L.M. Surface Geology of Australia 1:1 million scale dataset 2012 edition. Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia). [5]

Data and map coding provided by, used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License

This page contains all mineral locality references listed on This does not claim to be a complete list. If you know of more minerals from this site, please register so you can add to our database. This locality information is for reference purposes only. You should never attempt to visit any sites listed in without first ensuring that you have the permission of the land and/or mineral rights holders for access and that you are aware of all safety precautions necessary.


SA Geodata Database, Deposit Number: 390

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