Australian Gold Production an Overview

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 2
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1988
Unnamed early prospectors panned gold from creeks drain- ing the Great Dividing Range in the early part of 1851. The first publicised discovery was credited to Edward Hargraves near Bathurst in New South Wales later in 1851 and during the ensu- ing gold rush, prospectors rapidly made discoveries elsewhere in New South Wales and later across the border in Victoria. Reference to the attached graphs of gold production indicates that for much of the first 100 years, gold production came from the easily worked and readily discovered shallow alluvial deposits, many of which were located in the creeks draining mountainous regions of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland (Fig. 1 and 2). As these deposits were exhausted, prospectors turned their attention to outcrop lode deposits which led to the development of underground mining techniques and a significant boost in over- all gold production. With the discovery of the rich Golden Mile lodes in Kalgoorlie in 1893, gold production increased signifi- cantly and peaked around the turn of the century. At that time, the enormous potential of the great Witwatersrand deposits in South Africa had only just been appreciated and for a few years, Australia led the world in gold production (1855-1863 and again in 1903). Underground mining continued in the Eastern Goldfields area of Western Australia, the Bendigo-Ballarat region of Victoria and in northeast Queensland. Very few of these operations continued beyond the Second World War, except the larger producers in the Kalgoorlie region where recovered grade had dropped to about 6 g/t Au. By the early 1970s with the gold price fixed at US$35 per ounce, most of the operations were shut down as labour costs escalated, with only the low cost bulk mining operation at Mt. Charlotte and the high grade reefs at Norseman continuing in Production.
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