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Types of Australian mine: Open Pit or Underground?

Australian mines can be classified into two main categories: Open Pit mines and Underground mines.

Open Pit Mines

An open pit mine.
An Open Pit mine.

Open Pit Mines are so named because that’s exactly what they are: big open pits in the ground.

The idea is to progressively dig through layers of mineral and ore-rich earth, separating out that ore or mineral deposit. The longer a mine has been operating, the bigger the pit will become.

This type of mining is favoured when the minerals or ores being extracted are near the surface – and when the concentration of the mined substance is high enough to justify it.

It’s a popular option for mine workers as it’s perceived as less dangerous than Underground mining.

Open Pit mines in Australia

There are many open pit mines in Australia. These are some of the better known, with detail about where they are and what they produce:

  • Super Pit (gold, near Kalgoorlie, Western Australia)
  • Cadia mine (gold and copper, near Orange, New South Wales)
  • Boddington Gold Mine (gold, Boddington, Western Australia)
  • Telfer Mine (gold and copper, Pilbara, Western Australia)
  • Ranger Mine (uranium, east of Darwin, Northern Territory)

Underground Mines

Unless you’re already familiar with mining, underground mines are what you probably think of whenever anyone talks about a mine. Tunnels or shafts are dug into the earth to reach ore or minerals deep underground.

It is the less common mining technique, and because of the risk of mines collapsing, is the more dangerous of the two. It’s the method of choice when the materials being mined are far beneath the surface—and when it isn’t economical to use the open pit method.

Underground mines in Australia

There are fewer underground mines in Australia than there are open pit mines, but there are still quite a number. The following is just a small sample:

  • Argyle Diamond mine (diamonds, open pit and underground, Kimberley region, Western Australia)
  • Broken Hill (lead and zinc, Broken Hill, New South Wales)
  • Coolgardie Gold Mine (gold, near Kalgoorlie, Western Australia)
  • Olympic Dam (copper, uranium, gold and silver, North of Adelaide, South Australia)
  • Renison Bell (tin, on the west coast of Tasmania)

What to expect from both Open Pit and Underground mining

With both open pit and underground mining, the work can be hard and the hours long, and you can be rostered on for many days at a time.

That said, it can be rewarding in ways that are more than just financial—and the money is great!

If you have any questions on either open pit or underground mining jobs in Australia—or both—simply fill in the form on the right and click on the 'Submit' button.

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