50 Years of the Tin Mill at Port Kembla.

An illustrated history of Australia's only tinplate manufacturing operation, which was opened in 1957 and closed fifty years later.

About the Book


The tin mill within the steelworks at Port Kembla, NSW, was established to produce steel covered with a thin layer of tin suitable for making tin cans.

Initially the steel strip was dipped in molten tin, later electrolysis was used to transfer the tin to the steel.

Although the process became more sophisticated, changing packaging trends (increasing use of plastic, paper and aluminium, for example) and increased competition from cheaper imports made the mill increasingly unviable.

Despite some major investments and restructures, the difficult decision was eventually made to close Australia's only tin mill.

BlueScope Steel commemorated the occasion - and the half century of manufacturing that preceded it - by commissioning a book and accompanying DVD.


Published by BlueScope Steel.

Copies can be obtained from BlueScope Steel Public Affairs department and are also available in the National Library of Australia, the State Library of NSW and Wollongong Library.

Accompanying the book is a 30-minute DVD which includes archival footage of the Tin Mill, as well as a moving record of the Tin Mill at the time of its closure.

The Tin Mill Song, lyrics: Simon Luckhurst, music: Brett Hunt, accompanies some of these images.

Listen to the song on the SoundCloud link below.


Here are some of the photographs which appear in Commemoratin'.

Goodbye, Tinmill.

Cleaning residue.

50th anniversary cake.

Manufacturing area.


Manufacturing process.

Queen's visit to Port Kembla, 1950s.

Hard work.

Annealing section.


Coil storage area.

Annealing area.

Cleaning line.

Furnace interior.

Electro-tinning line.


All photos taken by Simon Luckhurst, except the Queen's visit photo which is from the BlueScope Steel archives.