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Port Pirie is a small city on the east coast of the Spencer Gulf in South Australia, 223 km (139 mi) north of the state capital, Adelaide. Port Pirie is the largest city and the main retail centre of the Mid North region of South Australia. The city has an expansive history which dates back to 1845. Port Pirie was the first proclaimed regional city in South Australia, and is currently the second most important and second busiest port in SA.At the 2021 Census, Port Pirie had a population of 13,896. Port Pirie is the eighth most populous city in South Australia after Adelaide, Mount Gambier, Gawler, Mount Barker, Whyalla, Murray Bridge and Port Lincoln.
The city's economy is dominated by one of the world's largest lead smelters, operated by Nyrstar. It also produces refined silver, copper, acid, gold and various other by-products.
In 2014, the smelter underwent a $650 million upgrade, of which $291 million was underwritten by the state government to replace some of the old existing plant and to reduce airborne lead emissions drastically. Regardless of these upgrades, blood lead levels in young children continue to rise. In 2021 a report from the South Australian Health Department found an average blood level of 7.3 mg/dL in young children, compared to a finding of 5.3 mg/dL in 2014, and an upward trend of airborne lead levels.
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