Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame Historical Profile – Athol Stanley (Stan) Hilditch

Athol Stanley (Stan) Hilditche (1904-1992) was a prospector and discoverer of major iron ore deposits in the Pilbara region of Western Australia

Few Australians outside of the mining industry would readily associate Stan Hilditch with the vast iron ore mines of WA’s Pilbara; in the popular view of discovery and progress, other names tend to spring to mind. Yet, Stan Hilditch was central to the discovery and foundation of the Mt Newman mining operations. Upon his pioneering contribution has been built an outstanding legacy in the form of one of the largest iron ore mines in the world: at the time of his death in 1992, the mine had produced considerably more than half a billion tons of iron ore over a period of 23 years and the operators expected that more than this again would come from known reserves.

Aside from the extent of his investigation and discovery in the Pilbara, Stan Hilditch is also remembered for what one Chair of BHP noted as ‘his tenacity, vision and unassuming nature [that] represented the very best qualities of the people of Australia’s mining industry.’

Stan Hilditch was born in Newcastle, NSW, in 1904, and came with his family at a very early age to the Eastern Goldfields of WA. Continue Reading →

Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame Historical Profile – Henry James Evans

Henry James Evans (1912-1990) was a leading exploration geologist and the discoverer of the world-class Weipa bauxite deposits in Queensland, Australia.

Henry James Evans was born on 7 November 1912 in Greymouth, centre of a mining region on the south island of New Zealand. He was educated at the Reefton High School and Reefton School of Mines where he studied geology. Initially he gained experience evaluating gold dredging areas on the west coast and later worked for Austral Malay Tin, Alluvial Tin and Consolidated Goldfields. In 1938 he joined New Zealand Petroleum as a senior geologist and spent six years supervising oil drilling, logging and mapping. He spent most of 1945 with the NZ Geological Survey assessing the resources of the Greymouth Coal Basin.

Evans moved to Australia in 1946 to join the Zinc Corporation (now Rio Tinto) and was appointed Chief Geologist with Frome Broken Hill, looking for oil and gas in various parts of Australia, but also did some work on potash in UK and uranium at Rum Jungle.

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Gold Prices May Not Have Silver Lining – Gregory Reynolds

Gregory Reynolds - Timmins ColumnistThe long awaited – and predicted – push by the price of gold through the US$1000 an ounce barrier has occurred.

There is jubilation in the hearts of the gold bugs of the world, those faithful who attend conferences year-after-year to hear the word from on high: gold is the only asset to hold.

That the wait between gold’s previous record high in 1980 at US$850 an ounce to the March 13 break through was 27 years is being ignored.

The gold mining industry, especially in Canada, has reason to be happy but there is a need to look past the event and to ask why it happened.

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Dynamite’s Successor Tested at the Copper Cliff Elsie Mine – Gary Peck

It combines all the elements of dynamite as an explosive as well as many other laudable features. It is safe to handle and needs the action of heat, flame and concussion to ignite it. One can even pound it with a hammer or rub it with sandpaper without fear. As well, it will not freeze under 25 degrees below zero nor is it affected by water or weather.

 Finally, no noxious gases will be emitted underground to slow down work and perhaps overcome the miner.  Such were the claims of a company in 1901 developing a new explosive to replace dynamite. Of interest is the little-known fact that the first Canadian plant was built in Sudbury.

The new explosive was of Russian origin, having been invented by Count Sergius Smollinoff.

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Mining and One Aboriginal Family – A Memoir by Glenn Nolan

Glenn Nolan - Chief of the Missanabie Cree First NationMy Dad was a Cree Indian. He was raised to be self sufficient in the bush. He was raised to know the importance of providing for his family through hard work and dedication. He was, in the true sense of the phrase, a hunter and a gatherer. Dad was not an educated man in the sense of a formal education. He went as far as grade three and realized that he could do more for his family by working at a logging camp at the age of twelve. He did a variety of jobs but always remained close to his cultural roots and continued to hunt, trap and fish to supplement his meager wages.

He tried his hand at a variety of jobs ranging from being on a road gang on the railroad, prospecting, guiding American anglers and hunters, as well as working as a labourer at various construction projects throughout Canada. He always returned home to be close to his family.

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Sudbury’s Cambrian College Closes Desperately Needed Geology Programs – John Filo

I am a Mineral Exploration Geophysicist and very disappointed with Cambrian College’s decision to suspend the Geological Engineering Technology program.

The mining industry is booming. There will be a shortfall of 92,000 workers in Canada alone, during the next decade as industry expands and wages significantly increase. Australia, Chile, Brazil and all other mineral producing countries are also facing the same labour shortages as us.

Cambrian has had an ample number of years to pursue an aggressive Geology marketing program when it felt it had to suspend the Geological Engineering Technician Program a few years ago.

One need not be a rocket scientist to realize that these symptoms should have provided notice to senior management that the publicizing of a unique program in Ontario had been inadequate. Continue Reading →

Excerpt From Michael Barnes New Book – More Than Free Gold: Mineral Exploration in Canada Since World War II

More Than Free Gold - Michael BarnesFaults and Fissures Vein Deposits

The discovery of silver and gold vein deposits marked the start of Canada’s mining legacy. The discovery of gold at Kirkland Lake and Timmins and silver in Cobalt and near Thunder Bay set the stage for the development of these parts of Canada’s hinterland and founded the development of a mining culture that continues today. …

Gold mining has come a long way in Ontario since the first property, the Richardson Mine in Eldorado near Madoc, fizzled shortly after its 1867 opening. The scattering of small mines working in northwestern Ontario eked out a few ounces of gold in the early part of the twentieth century. The success of the Cobalt camp gave witness to the Mexican proverb, “It takes a silver mine to make a gold mine,” by providing a labour pool and ready financing for the rich gold bonanzas of the Porcupine and Kirkland Lake.

The Porcupine-Timmins area produced 67 million ounces of gold from 48 mines between 1910 and 2004. The smaller but richer grade Kirkland Lake camp had an output from twenty-four mines that gave up 42 million ounces between 1917 and 1990.

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When the Worth of Sudbury Rocks was Being Known – Gary Peck

In the spring of 1894 the Provincial Mining Association of Ontario met in Sudbury. The meeting was afterwards described as, to that time, the largest and most successful ever held. Suffice to say, the meeting provided an opportunity for all to focus attention of the mining potential of the area. Today we’ll examine the Nickel Range in some detail.

 At that time the full extent of the Nickel Range was not known. Yet, the nickel-bearing belt was felt to be about 70 miles in length, extending from Lake Wahnapitae in a southwesterly direction along the Vermillion and Spanish Rivers. The width was described as irregular with it being wider at both ends and narrower in the middle where the main line of the CPR crossed it. Deposits were scattered throughout the range.

In Denison township, southwest of Sudbury, there was a regular series of approximately a dozen large ore beds on one ridge. This extended eastward into Graham township as a vein system. Prospectors referred to the rich nickel deposit as a “red hill” based on the color of the surface capping of gossan. It was the ambition of the prospector to make such a find.

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Barrick Gold and World Vision Fight Child Malnutrition in Peru

Photo-Philip Maher, World Vision

In the mountainous rural regions of Peru, malnutrition affects six out of every 10 children. Many children living in poverty subsist on a daily diet limited to basic starches like potatoes, while lacking other essential food groups. This daily diet may relieve hunger, however it fails to support proper growth and development or defend against diseases.

Barrick and World Vision Canada have teamed up with local residents in a collaborative approach to tackle these problems in communities surrounding the company’s mines in Peru. The project started in May 2003, when Barrick made an initial commitment of US$1 million over five years to help impoverished families near its Pierina mine. Building on the success of the first program, in 2007 Barrick contributed a further US$1.3 million to start up a similar project near its Lagunas Norte mine in northern Peru. World Vision has complemented Barrick’s funding thorough its popular child sponsorship program, which is supporting over 3,000 children in these areas.

“Our partnership with World Vision is based on a shared vision of children free from the dangers of malnutrition and illness, with access to clean water and education,” says Greg Wilkins, Barrick President and CEO, “Strong, healthy children are able to perform better in school and can go on to achieve their potential later in life.” 

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Barrick Gold/NGO Partnership Makes Dental Care in Tanzania a Reality

Dentist from Bridge2Aid in Rural Tanzania Photo Supplied by Barrick GoldOver 5,000 villagers living in Tanzania’s Lake Victoria area have received free emergency dental care, thanks to a unique partnership Barrick established with Bridge2Aid in 2003. Bridge2Aid is a British NGO specializing in providing dental care in Tanzania, where experts estimate 70 to 90 per cent of the population have no access to dental care.  

Barrick’s involvement began five years ago, when the company’s chief medical officer, Dr. Rob Barbour, recognized that dental problems were becoming increasingly serious at the Bulyanhulu mine in Tanzania. In many cases, employees were experiencing significant pain and infection associated with oral health issues. At that time there was only one option: patients were referred to a dentist in Dar es Salaam, over 800 kilometers away. As a result, employees spent more time away from the mine site and productivity began to suffer.

Meanwhile, for other residents living in the Lake Victoria area where Barrick’s mines are located, oral health care was virtually out of reach. This lack of accessible dental services reflects a larger, country-wide trend. Today in Tanzania there is only one dentist for every 300,000 people, in contrast to the United States where there is one dentist for every 1,700 people. Moreover, many economically disadvantaged Tanzanians lack the income to pay for and maintain good oral health.

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High-School Mining Education in Sudbury – Sofia Gallagher

Students from Rainbow District School Board at a Vale Inco facility in Sudbury - Photo SuppliedImagine yourself in Grade 12 again. What do you remember? Did part of your schooling include visiting an underground mine and witnessing the various career opportunities available there? Do you remember receiving certification awareness training at a local employer, alongside other workers in the plant? Upon graduation, were you able to say that you had the skills and knowledge to pursue your postsecondary destination of choice, had spent time shadowing the types of jobs you were interested in, and had acquired a number of certifications that made you more appealing to employers?

These opportunities are now being provided to our youth thanks to a new Ministry of Education initiative – the Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM). This program, launched in September 2006, is part of the Student Success Initiative, a province-wide strategy to expand learning opportunities for students and support success for all.

Students enrolled in a SHSM focus their learning on a specific economic sector while meeting the requirements for their secondary school diploma (OSSD). Continue Reading →

Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame Historical Profile – John Campbell Miles

John Campbell Miles 1883-1965John Campbell Miles (1883 – 1965) was the prospector and pastoral worker who discovered the mineralisation upon which the famous Mt Isa Mine was established in Queensland.

John Campbell Miles was born on 5 May 1883 in Melbourne. He was a wanderer and an adventurer from the time he ran away from school to work with a bootmaker. Blainey listed his quick progression of jobs as ploughman, miner, carter, railway navvy, wild-pig hunter and windmill repairer.

At the age of twenty-four (1907) he took a job as underground worker at Broken Hill, but stayed only until the following April before riding his bicycle 1,500 miles to the Oaks goldfield in north Queensland. While Miles would return to labouring work within a few months, his inauspicious prospect at the Oaks led to his discovery of the greatest twentieth century Australian mine.

From the Oaks, Miles worked as farm labourer in the Wimmera, then returned to Queensland where he spent ten years drifting from station to station, probably supplementing his wages by fossicking. After a brief visit to Melbourne in 1921, he decided to follow up the reminiscences of an elderly boundary rider who claimed to have seen gold on the Murranji Track, a cattle trail in the Northern Territory.

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Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame Historical Profile – Patrick (Paddy) Hannan

Patrick (Paddy) Hannan 1843-1925Patrick (Paddy) Hannan (1843 – 1925) was one of the prospectors whose discovery of gold in 1893 paved the way to mining in  Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia.

Kalgoorlie/Boulder’s Golden Mile is recognised as the richest mile in the world. The gold mines and the nearby city owe their existence to the discovery of gold made by Patrick Hannan, Tom Flanagan and Dan Shea in the area in 1893.

Born in Ireland, Hannan, Flanagan and Shea had migrated to Australasia in the mid C19. Flanagan arrived in the early 1850s and went to the fields at Bendigo in Victoria; Hannan arrived in Melbourne in 1863 and most likely went to join relatives in Ballarat; and Shea probably arrived at the end of the 1860s.

By the time they came to the newly discovered fields to the east of Perth in Western Australia, all three had prospected or worked in mines in various colonies. In 1867, for instance, Hannan left for New Zealand and worked there for six years before returning to Australia. He arrived in WA in 1889, Flanagan probably in the same year, and Shea around 1892. Like many from the eastern colonies at that time, they found their way to the developing finds on the Yilgarn. Hannan’s accounts of his time in the west report that in 1892 he was working at Parker Range, south-east of Southern Cross.

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The Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame – Stan Sudol

Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia - Supplied PhotoAustralia is considered the third largest minerals producer in the world, larger than Canada. The value of minerals exports (including oil and gas) is forecast to reach A$116 billion in 2007-08. As a result, Australian mining, supply and service companies and expertise are in demand around the world. In fact 60% of global mines use software designed and produced in Australia.

Both, the enormous iron ore deposits in the Pilbara region of Western Australia and the vast bauxite reserves at Weipa in the state of Queensland are among the top ten most significant mining regions in the world. The mineral deposits at Mount Isa, Kalgoorlie, Kambalda and Bowen Basin, just to mention a few regions are all world class.

Australia is the world’s leading producer of bauxite and alumina, number two in gold, iron ore, uranium, lead, zinc, number three in nickel and silver, and the fourth biggest black coal supplier. This is by no means a complete list.

Like Canada, Australia has experienced many gold rushes and other mineral booms in the past century and a half, that helped open up unexplored parts of their vast interior, increase immigration as well as contributed to the country’s economic development.

As well-known Australian journalist Trevor Sykes once stated about his country’s mining history, “…a saga of tough men, iron-nerved gamblers, violence, death and glittering riches set against the backdrop of some of the most awful country on earth.”

Noted Australian history professor Geoffrey Blainey, who wrote the much acclaimed, “The Rush That Never Ended – A History of Australian Mining” stated in his book, “Australian prospectors found or pioneered new mining fields from the Rand to Rhodesia to New Zealand and the Klondike. Australian mining investors opened Malayan tinlands and New Guinea and Fiji goldfields, and there is hardly a mining field that has not used Australian innovations in metallurgy.”

The Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame has graciously given Toronto-based Republic of Mining.com permission to post individual profiles from their digital archives of some of the most famous Australians who have made major contributions to their mineral industry.

Opened in 2001 and located in the Western Australian city of Kalgoorlie, the site of one of the country’s most famous gold rushes, the Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame tourist attraction offers many exhibits that colorfully explain mining history as well as current industry practices. You can go 36 metres underground with a retired miner and see how mining was done at the turn of the last century with picks and shovels and wheelbarrows.

You can also watch a gold pour demonstration in the original 1920s Paringa Mine Gold Room or try gold panning in ponds on the property. Other galleries showcase a mineral collection, explain mining laws and regulations and environmental issues. The facility also has a major education outreach program.

The following website has more information on the Miners Hall of Fame as well as extensive archives profiling the men and women who made Australia such a global mining powerhouse: http://www.mininghall.com/Home.php

Excerpt From Michael Barnes New Book – More Than Free Gold:Mineral Exploration in Canada Since World War II

More Than Free Gold - Michael Barnes

Our Best Friend
Kimberlites with Diamonds

With the discovery of diamonds in the kimberlite bodies of the Lac de Gras district in the N.W.T., Canada emerged as a major diamond producer, challenging South Africa, Botswana, Australia and Russia in both quality and quantity of diamond production.

Diamond hunting is difficult because kimberlite outcrops are rare, due to the fact that the rock is easily eroded; often a chunk of the stuff will crumble in the hand.

The big mining news in the eighties was of the gold at Hemlo, but in that decade two men were searching for a much more elusive quarry. Veteran prospector Chuck Fipke and geologist Dr. Stu Blusson spent all they had and all they could borrow to finance a quest for diamonds.

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