A city and port at the head of Spencer Gulf, South Australia, Port Pirie (1996 population: 16,202) lies 219 km by rail from Adelaide. It serves an imporant industrial region which contains a large lead refinery, engineering works, foundries and saw mills. There are rail links with Perth, Broken Hill and Sydney and the city is also a centre for a large agricultural district where wheat, sheep and dairy produce are obtained.
Port Pirie developed in the 1870s but expansion really began in 1889 when the lead smelter was opened. By 1934 this smelter had become the largest of its type in the world.