Lesson

Mining in Australia

So, mining in Australia is a significant primary industry and contributor to the Australian economy. I’m sure if you are here already, you’ve probably seen it on the news as they, the politicians, are always talking about mining.

Numerous different kinds of ores and minerals are mined across the continent and, historically, mining booms have encouraged immigration to Australia.

In the early days of Australia, when the colonies were being developed, mining contributed a significant amount to preventing potential bankruptcy of these early colonies so they were making a lot of money from mining.

Copper and silver were discovered in South Australia around the 1940s, which led to the export of the ore and a great deal of immigration of skilled miners and smelters into Australia.

The first economic minerals in Australia were silver and lead, and that started in 1841 in a mine at Glen Osmund in Adelaide, South Australia. The value of these mines though was soon overshadowed by the discovery of copper at places like Kapunda, Burra, and the Copper Triangle, they are three towns called Moonta, Kadina and Wallaroo. These are all indigenous names, I take it, and this was located at the top of the York Peninsula.

About 10 years later in 1851, gold was found in New South Wales and Victoria and the Australian gold rushes took off. The influx of wealth that the gold brought soon made Victoria Australia’s richest colony by far, and Melbourne, the largest city on the island.

By the middle of the 1850, 40% of the world’s gold was dug out of Australian soils.

Today, mining activity occurs in all states and territories across Australia, but only an estimated 0.02% of Australia’s land surface has directly been impacted by mining. That was actually a lot less than I had expected.

So, major active mines in Australia include the Olympic Dam, in South Australia. This is a copper, silver, and uranium mine believed to have the world’s largest uranium resource. And the Super Pit gold mine, which has replaced a number of underground mines near Kalgoorlie in WA, Western Australia.

So, which minerals and ores has Australia primarily mined? We mine iron ore and we’re the second largest supplier after China, supplying about almost a billion metric tons of iron ore every year, and that is 25% of the world’s output.

We mine nickel, 9% of the world’s output, aluminium that’s almost 30% of the world’s output, number one we are for aluminium. We mine copper, we mine gold, we mine silver, and we mine uranium. Those are the biggest ores and minerals that we mine in Australia. But we also mine diamonds, opals, zinc, coal, oil shale, petroleum, natural gas, silica, and other rare elements as well.

Despite the value of mining in Australia and the revenue that it generates for the Australian Government and obviously the Australian people, many people would like to see an end to mining in Australia, especially, for certain minerals and ores others such as coal, which is a relatively contentious mineral or that is dug up from the ground and burnt in order to create electricity, but it is relatively inefficient and it contributes heavily to climate change. That said, mining is arguably the backbone of the Australian economy and it will likely remain a big part of Australia into the future for better or worse.

So, I hope you enjoyed today’s episode, guys. I hope you have a great weekend and I’ll chat to you soon.

See you later!


Vocabulary

A colony – a country or area under the full or partial political control of another country and occupied by settlers from that country.
A contributor – a person or thing that contributes something, in particular.
A gold rush – a rapid movement of people to a newly discovered goldfield. The first major gold rush, to California in 1848, was followed by others in the US, Australia (1851–3), South Africa (1884), and Canada (Klondike, 1897–8).
A great deal (of ST) – many (of ST)
A metric ton – a unit of weight equal to 1,000 kilograms (2,205 lb).
A miner – a person who works in a mine.
A mineral – a solid, naturally occurring inorganic substance.
A mining boom – a temporary, albeit potentially long, period of exceptional growth.
A primary industry – industry, such as mining, agriculture, or forestry, that is concerned with obtaining or providing natural raw materials for conversion into commodities and products for the consumer.
A smelter – an installation or factory for smelting a metal from its ore.
A supplier – a person or organisation that provides something needed such as a product or service.
An influx (of ST) – an arrival or entry of large numbers of people or things.
An ore – a naturally occurring solid material from which a metal or valuable mineral can be extracted profitably.
Arguably – it may be argued (used to qualify the statement of an opinion or belief).
Around + *amount of ST* – approximately + *amount of ST*
Bankruptcy – Legal procedure for liquidating a business (or property owned by an individual) which cannot fully pay its debts out of its current assets.
By far – by a great amount.
Climate change – a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.
Coal – a combustible black or dark brown rock consisting chiefly of carbonised plant matter, found mainly in underground seams and used as fuel.
Contentious – causing or likely to cause an argument; controversial.
Contribute (to ST) – give (something, especially money) in order to help achieve or provide something.
Encourage ST/SO – give support, confidence, or hope to (someone).
Estimated – approximately calculated
Export ST – sell ST overseas to foreign countries
For better or worse – whether good or bad
Generate ST – produce ST
Heavily – to a significant amount
Historically – in the past
I take it – As I understand it; I’m guessing
Impacted – affected
Indigenous – originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native.
Inefficient – not achieving maximum productivity; wasting or failing to make the best use of time or resources.
Land surface – an area of ground used for some particular purpose.
Likely – such as well might happen or be true; probable.
Natural gas – flammable gas, consisting largely of methane and other hydrocarbons, occurring naturally underground (often in association with petroleum) and used as fuel.
Oil shale – fine-grained sedimentary rock from which oil can be extracted.
Opal – a gemstone consisting of a quartz-like form of hydrated silica, typically semi-transparent and showing many small points of shifting colour against a pale or dark ground.
Output – the amount of something produced by a person, machine, or industry.
Overshadow ST – appear more prominent or important than.
Petroleum – a liquid mixture of hydrocarbons which is present in suitable rock strata and can be extracted and refined to produce fuels including petrol, paraffin, and diesel oil; oil.
Potential – having or showing the capacity to develop into something in the future.
Rare elements – minerals or ores that are not common
Revenue – income; money earned by a person or company
See an end to ST – aim to stop ST from occurring or existing
Silica – a hard, unreactive, colourless compound which occurs as the mineral quartz and as a principal constituent of sandstone and other rocks.
Skilled – having or showing the knowledge, ability, or training to perform a certain activity or task well.
Take off – (of an enterprise) become successful or popular.
The backbone of ST – the chief support of a system or organisation.