Monday, May 15, 2017

WA Gold Country

After the Nullarbor we ventured slightly north into the heart of WA Gold Country. Many miners from across the globe ventured before and after the turn of the century to pursue riches in the brutal desert of the goldfields. With almost no reliable surface water, a miners best companions were his camel and a water skin.
 
Many small towns have restored the tools used in the mines, and places them for public display, often in a well maintained park.

Enormous steam winding engines rarely survive being scrapped.


 




Equipment used in mine shafts was often powered by compressed air, usually provided by a steam driven compressor, and later by diesel engines. Early shaft mines used horses or oxen to pull loads out, and hand drills, and explosives did the clearing.



Hauling the ore out by hand in the 40C heat...



We also visited the "Super Pit" in Kalgoorlie. Still operating, this enormous pit mine extracts thousands of ounces of gold each month. The scale of the operation is simply overwhelming.

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That tiny spec down at the bottom of the mine?  That is a face shovel.  We could see over 20 load trucks working the mine roads from here, each one over 20ft tall (you can see 2 of them on the right center of the photo).



The remains of mine equipment used in the old shaft mines was removed before the entire area became the pit.

The load trucks move 280 tons of ore per load to the surface.  Each one yields a golf-ball-sized amount of gold.









Several enormous head frames dot the landscape for both current and closed shaft mines.
 


This one marks a mining museum.





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