Tom Price is a town near the Karijini National Park. Its major industry is the iron ore mine nearby. The mine was opened in 1966, and originally it was thought it would bring about 50 years of operation. However, it was discovered that even today, there is still most likely another 50 years worth of ore to be mined.
You can take a tour of this mine, by signing up in town at the tourist information center. They have a minimum amount of people required for the tour (10 I believe) fortunately today there were 40, so we were allowed entry. The tour costs $30 and we were given a helmet and glasses for when off the bus.
The dump trucks above haul the ore from the pit to the processing area. They have computers on deck to tell them everything from how much they are carrying, to their next pick up point. The chains in between the tires in the back are to rip out any stones that lodge themselves in during driving. We were told these trucks can hold about 4,000 some liters of fuel.
This crane is decommissioned but remains to show tours the scale of the equipment here.
After the garage, we drove up the road to the pit area. Here we were allowed to walk around the observation area. Hard hats required of course.
We got lucky as we drove back to the processing area. One dump truck was driving along side of us, so we got a much better look.
Next was the processing area. Here rock is separated from ore. Anything with 50% or below is considered waste. 51%-60% low grade, 61% and higher is high grade. The pool pictured is where they mix water into the process.
The last piece of equipment pictured took 6 months to build on the site. The most amazing part is that no one in the mine controls it. It's remotely operated from Perth. A city that is a 16 1/2 hour drive away, about 1,400 km (870 miles.) Imagine being the one controlling something from that far away!
It was interesting seeing one of the mines after having met so many miners while traveling around here. Some facts I've learned about the life so far:
1) Most mines run 24/7, therefore, most people work 12-hour shifts. Usually, someone works for a week of night (or morning shifts) then has a week of the opposite.
2) If a person says they're 2 on, 1 off, that means they work two weeks of these shifts, then get a vacation week. Usually, people fly home or somewhere else for this, then fly back before their next work day.
3) Nowadays a lot of mines have about a 60/40 percent ratio of men to women. From what we've heard women do a lot of the truck driving, as they are seen to be gentler on the equipment.