Mining in Australia is a significant primary industry and contributor to the Australian economy. Historically, mining booms have also encouraged immigration to Australia. Many different ores and minerals are mined throughout the country.
The economy of Australia is a large mixed-market economy, with a GDP of A$1.69 trillion as of 2017. In 2018 Australia overtook Switzerland, and became the country with the largest median wealth per adult. Australia's total wealth was AUD$8.9 trillion as of June 2016. In 2016, Australia was the 14th-largest national economy by nominal GDP, 20th-largest by PPP-adjusted GDP, and was the 25th-largest goods exporter and 20th-largest goods importer. Australia took the record for the longest run of uninterrupted GDP growth in the developed world with the March 2017 financial quarter, the 103rd quarter and marked 26 years since the country had a technical recession.
Immigration to Australia began when the ancestors of Australian Aborigines arrived on the continent via the islands of Maritime Southeast Asia and New Guinea.
Mining contributed significantly to preventing potential bankruptcy for the early colonies in Australia. Silver and later copper were discovered in South Australia in the 1840s, leading to the export of ore and the immigration of skilled miners and smelters. The first economic minerals in Australia were silver and lead in February 1841 at Glen Osmond, now a suburb of Adelaide in South Australia. Mines including Wheal Gawler and Wheal Watkins opened soon after.The value of these mines was soon overshadowed by the discovery of copper at Kapunda (1842), Burra (1845) and in the Copper Triangle (Moonta, Kadina and Wallaroo) area at the top of Yorke Peninsula (1861).
South Australia is a state in the southern central part of Australia. It covers some of the most arid parts of the country. With a total land area of 983,482 square kilometres (379,725 sq mi), it is the fourth-largest of Australia's states and territories by area, and fifth largest by population. It has a total of 1.7 million people, and its population is the second most highly centralised in Australia, after Western Australia, with more than 77 percent of South Australians living in the capital, Adelaide, or its environs. Other population centres in the state are relatively small; Mount Gambier, the second largest centre, has a population of less than 30,000.
Glen Osmond is a suburb of Adelaide, South Australia in the City of Burnside which is in the foothills of the Adelaide Hills. It is well known for the road intersection on the western side of the suburb, where the South Eastern Freeway from the Adelaide Hills and the main route from Melbourne splits into National Route A17 Portrush Road, Glen Osmond Road, Adelaide and state route A3 Cross Road west towards the coast and southern suburbs.
Adelaide is the capital city of the state of South Australia, and the fifth-most populous city of Australia. In June 2017, Adelaide had an estimated resident population of 1,333,927. Adelaide is home to more than 75 percent of the South Australian population, making it the most centralised population of any state in Australia.
In 1851, gold was found near Ophir, New South Wales. Weeks later, gold was found in the newly established colony of Victoria. Australian gold rushes, in particular the Victorian Gold Rush, had a major lasting impact on Victoria, and on Australia as a whole. The influx of wealth that gold brought soon made Victoria Australia's richest colony by far, and Melbourne the island's largest city. By the middle of the 1850s, 40% of the world's gold was produced in Australia.
Victoria is a state in south-eastern Australia. Victoria is Australia's most densely populated state and its second-most populous state overall. Most of its population lives concentrated in the area surrounding Port Phillip Bay, which includes the metropolitan area of its state capital and largest city, Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city. Geographically the smallest state on the Australian mainland, Victoria is bordered by Bass Strait and Tasmania to the south, New South Wales to the north, the Tasman Sea to the east, and South Australia to the west.
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Its name refers to an urban agglomeration of 9,992.5 km2 (3,858.1 sq mi), comprising a metropolitan area with 31 municipalities, and is also the common name for its city centre. The city occupies much of the coastline of Port Phillip bay and spreads into the hinterlands towards the Dandenong and Macedon ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. It has a population of approximately 4.9 million, and its inhabitants are referred to as "Melburnians".
Australia's population changed dramatically as a result of the gold rushes: in 1851 the population was 437,655 and a decade later it was 1,151,957; the rapid growth was predominantly a result of the new chums (recent immigrants from the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth states) who contributed the 'rush'.Although most Victorian goldfields were exhausted by the end of the 19th century, and although much of the profit was sent back to the UK, sufficient wealth remained to fund substantial development of industry and infrastructure.
Australia has mining activity in all of its states and territories. The Minerals Council of Australia estimates that 0.02% of Australia's land surface is directly impacted by mining.
The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) is an industry association, notable for representing companies that generate most of Australia's mining output. The MCA was founded in 1995. It used to be known as the Australian Mining Industry Council which was established in 1960. The Minerals Council is an associate member of the World Coal Association.
Particularly significant areas today include the Goldfields, Peel and Pilbara regions of Western Australia, the Hunter Region in New South Wales, the Bowen Basin in Queensland and Latrobe Valley in Victoria and various parts of the outback. Places such as Kalgoorlie, Mount Isa, Mount Morgan, Broken Hill and Coober Pedy are known as mining towns.
The Goldfields-Esperance region is one of the nine regions of Western Australia. It is located in the south eastern corner of Western Australia, and comprises the local government areas of Coolgardie, Dundas, Esperance, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Laverton, Leonora, Menzies, Ngaanyatjarraku and Ravensthorpe.
The Peel region is one of the nine regions of Western Australia. It is located on the west coast of Western Australia, about 75 km (47 mi) south of the state capital, Perth. It consists of the City of Mandurah, and the Shires of Boddington, Murray, Serpentine-Jarrahdale and Waroona.
The Pilbara is a large, dry, thinly populated region in the north of Western Australia. It is known for its Aboriginal peoples; its ancient landscapes; the red earth; its vast mineral deposits, in particular iron ore; and as a global biodiversity hotspot for subterranean fauna.
Major active mines in Australia include:
Large quantities of minerals and resources :
Much of the raw material mined in Australia is exported overseas to countries such as China for processing into refined product. Energy and minerals constitute two-thirds of Australia's total exports to China, and more than half of Australia's iron ore exports are to China.
Australia ranks among the top 4 in economic resources for 21 primary industrial minerals, more than any other nation. Statistics are for December 2016.
Units of measurement: t = tonne; kt = kilotonne (1,000 t); Mt = million tonne (1,000,000 t); Mc = million carat (1,000,000 c)
|Mineral||Unit of Measurement||Demonstrated|
|Production (2016)||World |
Ranking of Production
|Years of Resources|
at Current Production
|Coal, Brown (lignite)||Mt||66,439||2||24||63.3||5||6||1,050|
|Iron ore||Mt ore||49,588||1||29||858||1||38||58|
|Rare Earth Elements||Mt ore||3.43||6||3||.014||2||11||245|
Coal is mined in every state of Australia except South Australia. It is used to generate electricity and is exported. 54% of the coal mined in Australia is exported, mostly to eastern Asia. In 2000/01, 258.5 million tonnes of coal was mined, and 193.6 million tonnes exported, rising to 261 million tonnes of exports in 2008–09. Coal also provides about 85% of Australia's electricity production. Australia is the world's leading coal exporter.
Uranium mining in Australia began in the early 20th century in South Australia. At 2016 Australia contained 29% of the world's defined uranium resources. The three largest uranium mines in the country are Olympic Dam, Ranger Uranium Mine and Beverley Uranium Mine. Future production is expected from Honeymoon Uranium Mine and the planned Four Mile uranium mine.
Based on 2008 CSIRO report, Australia estimated to have stranded gas reserves with about 140 trillion cubic feet or enough to fulfil the needs of a city with one million people for 2,800 years.
At various stages in the history of the mining industry in Australia, individual mining managers, directors and investors have gained significant wealth and the subsequent publicity. In most cases the individuals are designated Mining Magnates or Australian mining entrepreneurs.
A number of large multinational mining companies including BHP Billiton, Newcrest, Rio Tinto, Alcoa, Chalco, Shenhua (a Chinese mining company), Alcan and Xstrata operate in Australia. There are also a lot of small mining and mineral exploration companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). Overall, the resources sector represents almost 20% of the ASX market by capitalisation, and almost one third of the companies listed.
Mining contributes about 5.6% of Australia's Gross Domestic Product. This is up from only 2.6% in 1950, but down from over 10% at the time of federation in 1901.In contrast, mineral exports contribute around 35% of Australia's exports. Australia is the world's largest exporter of coal (35% of international trade), iron ore, lead, diamonds, rutile, zinc and zirconium, second largest of gold and uranium, and third largest of aluminium. Japan was the major purchaser of Australian mineral exports in the mid-1990s.
Of the developed countries, perhaps only Canada and Norway have mining as such a significant part of the economy; for comparison, in Canada mining represents about 3.6% of the Canadian economy and 32% of exports,and in Norway mining, dominated by petroleum, represents about 19% of GDP and 46% of exports. By comparison, in the United States mining represents only about 1.6% of GDP.
Despite its export importance, the mining sector employs only a small proportion of the workforce – roughly 129,000 Australians, representing only about 2.2% of the total labour force.
Australia's mining services, equipment, and technology exports are over $2 billion annually.
Many mines in remote areas have a traditional company town (for example Roxby Downs or Leigh Creek), or support towns that used to be company towns such as Broken Hill and Mount Isa.
Mining has created major economic benefits for the country, but has also had a substantial environmental impact in some areas of Australia. Historically, the Victorian gold rush was the start of the economic growth of the country, leading to major increases in population. However, it also resulted in deforestation, consequent erosion, and pollution in the areas that were mined. million hectares of land have been affected throughout the history of mining in Australia. Because Australia's mines are distributed across varying climates the knowledge gained from one mine's restoration does not easily extrapolate to other sites.The effects on the landscape near Bendigo and Ballarat can still be seen today. Queenstown, Tasmania's mountains were also completely denuded through a combination of logging and pollution from a mine smelter, and remain bare today. It is estimated that 10
Uranium mining has been controversial, partly for its alleged environmental impact but more so because of its end uses in nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The Australian Labor Party, one of Australia's two major parties, maintains a policy of "no new uranium mines". As of 2006, the increased world demand for uranium has seen some pressure, both internally and externally on the ALP, for a policy change.Australia is a participant in international anti-proliferation efforts designed to ensure that no exported uranium is used in nuclear weapons.
Creswick in the Victorian goldfields was the site of The New Australasian No.2 Deep Lead Gold Mine. At 4:45 am, Tuesday 12 December 1882, 29 miners became trapped underground by flood waters that came from the flooded parallel-sunk No.1 mine shaft, only five men survived and made it to the surface. Despite two days of frantic pumping the waters filled the mine shaft. The trapped men scrawled last notes to their loved ones on billy cans before they drowned. Some of these have been kept and still bear the messages. The men that perished left 17 widows and 75 dependent children.
In 1883 a coal mine was opened near Mount Kembla in the Illawarra District of New South Wales. In 1902 there was an explosion in the mine and 96 men and boys lost their lives, either while at work or in the course of trying to save the lives of others. Every family in the village lost a relative. A service of commemoration is held annually on 31 July at the Mount Kembla Soldiers' and Miners' Memorial Church. This is the worst mining disaster in Australia's history.
Balmain Colliery was located in Birchgrove, New South Wales and produced coal from 1897 until 1931 and natural gas until 1945. During this period, 10 miners lost their lives in three separate incidents:
1900 On 17 March 1900, six miners were being lowered down the Birthday shaft. At 1,424 feet the bucket they were travelling in caught on a projection, tipped over and five of the six men fell to their death in the shaft. As a result of this accident, the Mining Act was amended to provide guide rails in shafts to prevent bucket swinging or overturning.
1932 In 1932, a year after the mine closed, a six-inch bore was sunk below the Birthday shaft to pipe Natural Gas to the surface. During the sinking of the bore, two men were killed when the gas ignited and exploded.
1945 During the sealing of the Birthday shaft on 20 April 1945, a rudimentary test was being undertaken which ignited escaping gas and caused an explosion below the seal. The company manager and two men were killed in the accident and another two men injured.
On 12 October 1912, the North Mount Lyell Fire caused the death of 42 miners, and required breathing apparatus to be transported from Victorian mines at great speed, to rescue trapped miners. The subsequent royal commission was inconclusive as to the cause
The 1921 Mount Mulligan mine disaster occurred in Far North Queensland. The coal dust explosion killed seventy-five men.
Four serious accidents have occurred at mines in the Central Queensland town of Moura. The first accident took the lives of 13 men in September 1975. In July 1986 there was an explosion at Moura Number 4 Mine. 12 coal miners lost their lives in this disaster that sparked controversy after experts claimed the accident was avoidable. Another explosion killed two men in January 1994 and just eight months later another explosion deep underground took the lives of 11 men.
On 26 June 2000, at the Bronzewing Gold Mine in Western Australia (400 kilometres from Kalgoorlie), 18,000 cubic metres of sand-slurry, sludge, mud and rock broke through a storage wall. Two men (Timothy Lee Bell, 21, Shane Hamill, 45) were killed and eight escaped the 'accident'. It took over a month to retrieve the men from the site.
On 25 April 2006, part of an underground gold mine at Beaconsfield in Tasmania collapsed. One miner, Larry Knight, was killed by the rock fall, and two others, Brant Webb and Todd Russel, were trapped, leading to a rescue mission that took two weeks to get them out alive.
1887 At 2.30 pm on 23 March 1887, an explosion at the mine in Bulli in New South Wales killed 81 people. A special commission was set up to investigate the explosion and concluded:
..that the explosion was caused by marsh gas or carbonic hydrate that had accumulated at the face. That the immediate cause was probably the flame from an overcharged shot fired by a miner in the coal in No. 2 Heading.
This gas explosion propagated a coal dust explosion and travelled towards the fresh air at the surface. The commission was also of the opinion that the Deputy, Overman and to a lesser extent the Manager, were all guilty of contributing negligence.
1965 On 9 November 1965, a pocket of gas ignited in a panel several hundred yards from the main shaft and killed four miners. Ten mining rescue teams and the Southern Mines Rescue Station worked all night to extinguish the fire.
At the Box Flat Mine in Swanbank, South East Queensland, 17 miners were lost after an underground gas explosion occurred on 31 July 1972.Another man died later from injuries sustained in the explosion. The mine tunnel mouths were sealed and the mine closed shortly after.
Coal mining is the process of extracting coal from the ground. Coal is valued for its energy content, and, since the 1880s, has been widely used to generate electricity. Steel and cement industries use coal as a fuel for extraction of iron from iron ore and for cement production. In the United Kingdom and South Africa, a coal mine and its structures are a colliery, a coal mine a pit, and the above-ground structures the pit head. In Australia, "colliery" generally refers to an underground coal mine. In the United States, "colliery" has been used to describe a coal mine operation but nowadays the word is not commonly used.
A mining accident is an accident that occurs during the process of mining minerals. Thousands of miners die from mining accidents each year, especially from underground coal mining, although hard rock mining is not immune from accidents. Coal mining is considered much more hazardous than hard rock mining due to flat-lying rock strata, generally incompetent rock, the presence of methane gas, and coal dust. Most of the deaths these days occur in developing countries, and rural parts of developed countries.
Mining in Western Australia, together with the petroleum industry in the state, accounted for 92 per cent of the State's and 41% of Australia's income from total merchandise exports in 2015–16. The state of Western Australia hosted 111 principal mining projects and hundreds of smaller quarries and mines. The principal projects produced more than 99 per cent of the industry's total sales value.
Mining in Iran is underdeveloped, yet the country is one of the most important mineral producers in the world, ranked among 15 major mineral-rich countries, holding some 68 types of minerals, 37 billion tonnes of proven reserves and more than 57 billion tonnes of potential reserves worth $770 billion in 2014. Mineral production contributes only 0.6 per cent to the country's GDP. Add other mining-related industries and this figure increases to just four per cent (2005). Many factors have contributed to this, namely lack of suitable infrastructure, legal barriers, exploration difficulties, and government control over all resources.
Coal is mined in every state of Australia. Mining occurs mainly in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. About 75% of coal mined in Australia is exported, mostly to eastern Asia, and of the balance most is used in electricity generation. Coal production in Australia increased 13.6% between 2005 and 2010 and 5.3% between 2009 and 2010. In 2016, Australia was the biggest net exporter of coal, with 32% of global exports, and was the fourth-highest producer with 6.9% of global production. 77% of production was exported.
The Pike River Mine is a coal mine formerly operated by Pike River Coal 46 km (29 mi) north-northeast of Greymouth in the West Coast Region of New Zealand's South Island. The mine and assets are currently owned by Solid Energy.
Mining in South Africa was once the main driving force behind the history and development of Africa's most advanced and richest economy. Large-scale and profitable mining started with the discovery of a diamond on the banks of the Orange River in 1867 by Erasmus Jacobs and the subsequent discovery and exploitation of the Kimberley pipes a few years later. Gold rushes to Pilgrim's Rest and Barberton were precursors to the biggest discovery of all, the Main Reef/Main Reef Leader on Gerhardus Oosthuizen's farm Langlaagte, Portion C, in 1886, the Witwatersrand Gold Rush and the subsequent rapid development of the gold field there, the biggest of them all.
Gold mining in the People's Republic of China has made that country the world's largest gold producer by far with 463.7 tonnes in 2016. For the year 2007, gold output rose 12% from 2006 to 276 tonnes to become the world's largest for the first time—overtaking South Africa, which produced 272 tonnes. South Africa had until then been the largest for 101 years straight since 1905. The major reasons for this change in position had been due to South African production falling by 50% in the past decade as production costs there have risen, more stringent safety regulations have been implemented, and existing mines have become depleted.
The mineral industry of Russia is one of the world's leading mineral industries and accounts for a large percentage of the Commonwealth of Independent States' production of a range of mineral products, including metals, industrial minerals, and mineral fuels. In 2005, Russia ranked among the leading world producers or was a significant producer of a vast range of mineral commodities, including aluminum, arsenic, cement, copper, magnesium compounds and metals, nitrogen, palladium, silicon, nickel and vanadium.
The mineral industry of Africa is the largest mineral industries in the world. Africa is the second largest continent, with 30 million km² of land, which implies large quantities of resources. For many African countries, mineral exploration and production constitute significant parts of their economies and remain keys to economic growth. Africa is richly endowed with mineral reserves and ranks first or second in quantity of world reserves of bauxite, cobalt, industrial diamond, phosphate rock, platinum-group metals (PGM), vermiculite, and zirconium. Gold mining is Africa's main mining resource.
The mineral industry of Mozambique plays a significant role in the world’s production of aluminium, beryllium, and tantalum. In 2006, Mozambique's share of the world's tantalum mine output amounted to 6%; beryllium, 5%; and aluminium, 2%. Other domestically significant mineral processing operations included cement and natural gas.
Mining is the biggest contributor to Namibia's economy in terms of revenue. It accounts for 25% of the country's income. Its contribution to the gross domestic product is also very important and makes it one of the largest economic sectors of the country. The majority of revenue comes from diamond mining.
Mining in New Zealand began when the Māori quarried rock such as argillite in times prior to European colonisation. Mining by Europeans began in the latter half of the 19th century.
Tajikistan has rich deposits of gold, silver, and antimony. The largest silver deposits are in Sughd Province, where Tajikistan’s largest gold mining operation also is located. Russia’s Norilsk nickel company has explored a large new silver deposit at Bolshoy Kanimansur. More than 400 mineral deposits of some 70 different minerals have been discovered in Tajikistan, including strontium, tungsten, molybdenum, bismuth, salt, lead, zinc, fluorspar, and mercury. These minerals have been found suitable for mining. Uranium, an important mineral in the Soviet era, remains in some quantity but is no longer extracted. The Tajikistan Aluminium Company (TALCO), an aluminium smelter, is the country's only large-scale production enterprise in the mining sector. Tajikistan hosts the annual Mining World Tajikistan, an international exhibition on mining in Dushanbe.
The mineral mining industry is a crucial piece of the Economy of Niger. Exports of minerals consistently account for 40% of exports.
Mining in the United Kingdom produces a wide variety of fossil fuels, metals, and industrial minerals due to its complex geology. In 2013, there were over 2,000 active mines, quarries, and offshore drilling sites on the continental land mass of the United Kingdom producing £34bn of minerals and employing 36,000 people.
Mining in the United States has been active since colonial times, but became a major industry in the 19th century with a number of new mineral discoveries causing a series of mining "rushes." In 2015, the value of coal, metals, and industrial minerals mined in the United States was US $109.6 billion. 158,000 workers were directly employed by the mining industry.
Mining is an important industry in Pakistan. Pakistan has deposits of several minerals including coal, copper, gold, chromite, mineral salt, bauxite and several other minerals. There are also a variety of precious and semi-precious minerals that are also mined. These include peridot, aquamarine, topaz, ruby, emerald, rare-earth minerals bastnaesite and xenotime, sphene, tourmaline, and many varieties and types of quartz .
Mining is important to the national economy of Mongolia. Coal, copper, and gold are the principal reserves mined in Mongolia. Several gold mines are located about 110 kilometres (68 mi) north of Ulaanbaatar, such as Boroo Gold Mine and Gatsuurt Gold Mine. Khotgor Coal Mine is an open-pit coal mining site about 120 kilometres (75 mi) west of Ulaangom. Ömnögovi Province in the south of Mongolia is home to large scale mining projects such as the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine and the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine. Oyu Tolgoi mine is reported to have the potential to boost the national economy by a third but is subject to dispute over how the profits should be shared. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has estimated that 71 percent of the income from the mine would go to Mongolia.
Mining in North Korea is important to the country's economy. North Korea is naturally abundant in metals such as magnesite, zinc, tungsten, and iron; with magnesite resources of 6 billion tonnes, particularly in the Hamgyeong-do and Jagang-do provinces. However, often these cannot be mined due to the acute shortage of electricity in the country, as well as the lack of proper tools to mine these materials and an antiquated industrial base. Coal, iron ore, limestone, and magnesite deposits are larger than other mineral commodities. Mining joint ventures with other countries include China, Canada, Egypt, and South Korea.