For nearly 100 years, the family operating Northern Smelters has been involved in the tin and lead industry in Australia. The current business was established in 1966 by Dal Hayes, whose experience with metal started with his father in the 1920's, reclaiming lead from old car batteries at a time when the usual method of disposal was the town dump. Edward Hayes later sold his pioneering lead recovery business to Cliff Doring, who in turn sold to Sims Metal, leading eventually to the foundation of Australian Refined Alloys, which was the only Australian producer of refined recycled lead until recent times. The Alexandria plant now is operated by Enirgi Metals.
Dal's brother Ray Hayes, whose knowledge also stemmed from his father's experience, established in Bankstown NSW as Smelters and Refiners, and was the main supplier of wiping metal for GMH, Ford, and Chrysler car manufacturing plants. In the mid-1950's his business was bought by Englehard-Wallace, later to become Consolidated Alloys and now part of the multi-national Amalgamated Alloys group of companies. Ray and his son Philip then became involved with exporting platinum, tin, and other residues for recycling in Belgium and Germany.
In the 1980's Dal's competitor in Brisbane, Col Acton, was bought by Consolidated Alloys, who at the time enjoyed a monopoly in solder products in Sydney. The price there was extremely high, while in Brisbane Dal struggled to compete against solder selling at cost price. In desperation, he suggested 16 year old grandson, Robert Richardson, sell radiator solder in Sydney. By providing competition in Sydney, unrealistically low prices in Brisbane could not be subsidized by the high prices being charged to Sydney's radiator repairers. The plan worked, Northern Smelters survived, and Robert extended his sales to other products, trading as Richardson Alloys.
Dal's daughter Kathryn worked alongside her father in his later years, continuing the tin smelting after his death in 1996 until 2003 when the last mines supplying high grade concentrates ceased to operate. Northern Smelters were the only producers of pure tin in Australia for 20 years.
In charge of production is Warren Sirett with 25 years experience, following in his father Bob's footsteps. Bob Sirett was Dal's 'right-hand' man from the earliest days of Northern Smelters. In total the connection of the two families in the business goes back nearly 50 years....and some of our customers also go back two and even three generations in their dealings with us. This sort of loyalty and respect demonstrates the integrity of the people involved here.
Richardson Alloys combined in 2000 with Northern Smelters and the company is now run by Robert Richardson based in Sydney, and Kathryn Richardson in Brisbane. Northern Smelters Pty Ltd is proud to have originated from the pioneering of lead recycling and solder manufacturing in Australia last century, and pleased today to provide competition where a monopoly market may otherwise exist.