Page 700
Previous/Next Page
Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 10

I 1. Introduction

II 2. The Role Of Technology

III 3. Some Highlights Of Australian Minerals Technology

IV 4. Other Technological Achievements (in brief)

V 5. Export Of Technology

VI 6. Education And Research

VII 7. The Scientific Societies

VIII 8. Conclusion



Contact us
Chapter 10 - The Mineral Industries

1. Introduction

Australia -the 'Island Continent' -with its large land mass including an extensive pre-Cambrian Shield, its vast sedimentary basins and its large continental shelf, would naturally be expected to contain significant mineral deposits and coal seams and construction materials, etc. However, to the earliest European settlers this was literally unknown country, and the first concern was the consolidation of the few coastal settlements and the establishment of elementary agriculture. In the course of these activities the existence of coal in the Port Jackson area was confirmed as early as 1791 and actual mining of coal commenced in 1801 in the Hunter Valley. The introduction of the Merino sheep in 1797 had accelerated the movement of population into the interior and broadened the field for exploration, but little of consequence in respect to minerals was reported in the Colony of New South Wales in the period leading up to the first smelting of iron ore at Mittagong in 1848.

In the meantime the first settlement at Port Adelaide in 1836 had been followed by discoveries of silver-lead at Glen Osmond in 1839 and copper at Kapunda in 1843, the latter leading to production over a short life of a substantial proportion, perhaps as much as ten percent, of the world production of copper.

These early discoveries were the forerunners of the vastly more important discoveries of gold in New South Wales and Victoria in 1851 which propelled Australia into the front rank of mining countries, where it still remains. It should be recorded that the population was a mere 200,000 at the time of the gold discoveries and that it increased to about one million in the next decade. One cannot fail to be impressed by the intrepidity and the physical endurance of the early miners and their families in the face of the daunting difficulties and perils of transport to Australia from Europe and North America in the first instance, and within the harsh environment of the mining fields where problems of climate and distance were acute. The inventive and adaptive qualities of the miners in achieving production in a country with the slenderest engineering base are likewise extraordinary. These factors have inspired a wide ranging historical and technical literature which covers the early phases and the subsequent discoveries and development of the great mineral and metal enterprises based on the world famous ore bodies of Broken Hill, Mount Isa, Mount Morgan, Mount Bischoff, Mount Lyell, Kalgoorlie, the Pilbara, Roxby Downs, to mention only a few, and the coal basins of New South Wales and Queensland and the lignite deposits of Victoria. From this literature some few major compilations may be selected as a guide to the general reader; the researcher will need to cover a much wider field. Blainey has published a number of books on the history of the industry in general and of several major fields in particular. Donald dark's 'Australian Mining and Metallurgy' provides a comprehensive coverage of practices up to 1904. Raggatt's 'Mountains of Ore' published in 1968 is a guide to the known resources and reserves up to that stage. J. T. Woodcock as editor of 'Mining and Metallurgical Practices in Australasia' has covered the technical aspects of operations up to 1980. C. L. Knight as editor of 'Economic Geology of Australia and Papua New Guinea' (1975) has covered the relevant geological data which are basic to the industry. The last two sources are publications of The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, which has also published extensive technical material in the course of hosting the Fifth Empire Mining and Metallurgical Congress in 1953, the Eighth Commonwealth Mining and Metallurgical Congress in 1965 and the Thirteenth CMMI Congress in 1986.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

People in Bright Sparcs - Clark, Donald; Knight, C. L.; Raggatt, H. G.; Woodcock, J. T.

Previous Page Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering Next Page

© 1988 Print Edition page 733, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher