Australian continent has the world’s largest known resources of iron ore, lead, bauxite, uranium, zinc, silver, mineral sands and industrial diamonds. Mining activities in Australia supposedly started with the coming of aboriginals some 40,000 years ago. However, the scenario of Australian mining changed with the arrival of Europeans on the eastern sea coast in 1788. Coal was first discovered in the year 1791 by escaped convicts in the Newcastle region. Thereafter coal was discovered in different parts of north and south of Sydney. The coal industry started in 1798 when certain ship owners transported coal from Newcastle to Sydney for sale. Export of coal started in the year 1799 when a large shipment was sent o India.
Australia has witnessed several gold rushes starting from the 1800’s, but most of the gold discoveries were exhausted by the 1890’s. These gold mines were mostly discovered by the shepherds and convicts and were mainly centred on the eastern coast of Australia. In the year 1852, New South Wales became a major producer of gold and produced about 26.4 tonnes. This amount was quite negligible in contrast to the gold which was explored in Victoria. Victoria became the main producer of gold, contributing more than one third of the world’s total production. As a result of these gold discoveries in Australia, the number of immigrated people started to grow with each passing year. During early 1850’s gold was even discovered in Western Australia, Northern Territory in 1865, Queensland in 1853, Beaconsfield in 1877 and at Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie in the 1890’s.
The mining history of Australia is very interesting. In 1841, lead became the first mined metal in Australia which was explored from the Glen Osmond hills in Adelaide. Thereafter copper mining followed at Kapunda in Adelaide in the year 1842. Copper was also explored at Burra Burra in Southern Australia in 1845. In 1848, lead was discovered in the beds of the Murchinson River, Western Australia. In 1864, coal was found at Greta-Cessnock-Maitland field which later became the major source of gas coal in Australia. In the year 1871, tin was discovered at Mount Bischoff, Tasmania and Inverell, New South Wales. In 1879, copper and tin was found at Herberton mineral field in Queensland. In 1899, 17 individual goldfields and four mining districts were set up at Western Australia. In 1927, copper was found at Mount Isa and in 1931; the Mount Isa Mines Ltd. started its operations. Bauxite was explored at Gove in 1950. From 1970-73, Ranger, Jabiluka and Nabarlek uranium deposits were discovered.
Mining industry in Australia uses the latest technologies and software solutions. The safety regulations, research work and the importance paid towards mining by every government has become a learning experience for all leading countries of the world. The mining sector of Australia also provides a huge range of lucrative jobs and has become one of the key employing sectors.