Revisiting 
AUSTRALIA
2005

 

 

Route of Mines
Western Australia is peppered with mines. Flying the country, we only notice the above ground mines. They can be seen all over in the most remote places or close to the middle of a town. Many are old and abandoned with most of the equipment removed, as the large holes in the ground slowly fill up with water over a period of time. There is no way to know about the quality of the water from our perspective, except that there are often many poisonous minerals involved with mining. One hint is that there is few, if any vegetation visible. The old truck roads leading to the water are very steep and hardly suitable for any kind of access.  It may well be more of a trap for those having been lured to the refreshing looking pools of water in the sweltering heat.

From the air it is hard to tell exactly what is being mined but still, there are some clues. If there is little dead rock deposited at the side and a railroad leading away from the site, then it is most likely in the iron category. We were told that at the present time, the Chinese are the largest customers of most iron ore, then process it in their own country.

If there are large hills of deposits and murky ponds, the mined product is usually being separated on site. It most likely is gold, nickel or  another mineral, possibly uranium or plutonium. The final product can then be hauled away in trucks or by aircraft. If the mine is still active, most likely there is a town or a city nearby. Each site could tell thousands of stories of the rise and fall of countless towns along with the tremendous suffering of those people who were part of the "Hole" in the ground.

 

 
ProspectingProspecting site far from any major road in eastern part of the very prolific Hamersley Range, northwest of Newman. Small dead MineAlong our route - one of the many abandoned mines terminated at an early stage.
 
Larger old mineAbandoned mine surrounded by salt covered soil close to one of the many dried up lakes. It shows a typical terrace pattern with a single access ramp leading to the bottom. Old DepositsLike the start of a pyramid,  deposits have been stacked up. Some processing plants are still nearby. However, the trees and grass on the top indicate that the good days are far gone. With little rain, the sides still hold quite well.
Old Mine scooped outThis old mine looks as if a slab was scooped out and deposited at the side, or is it a footprint of a shoe in a XXXXXXL size? Old mine waiting The engineers of this mine must have had plans to later use it as a unique water skiing resort. The Town of Meekatharra still perks along because of  more active mines around.
 
Active iron ore mine at NewmanOne of the largest open pit iron ore mines in the world is in Newman. Almost no processing is being done. The iron ore is hauled by train NW to Port Hedland. Active Gold Mine at KalgoorlieThe Town of Kalgoorlie boasts of having the largest open pit mine in Australia, producing primarily gold and nickel. It is about 300 miles east of Perth.
 
Active iron ore mine at Cockatoo Is. KimberlyNorth of Broome off Cape Leveque, there are hundreds of small islands of the Kimberley. Cockatoo and Koolan Islands  are slowly being mined out of existence.

Don't hesitate to give us your impressions.

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This page was last modified on 22. April 2005