Excursion Australia 2009

From August 17 to September 2, 2009 a group of 16 students of the courses mineral resource engineering and mining as well as scientific staff of the BBK III headed by professor Niemann-Delius was travelling to Australia. The route led from Frankfurt via Dubai to Perth. The capital city of the Western Australian state has been visited as the first stop on the Australian continent.

After the first night in Australia, the group traveled by bus to the Draling Range region, situated 50 km south of Perth. There, the two bauxite open-cast mines Willowdale and Huntly are operated by the Alcoa World Alumina Australia Company. The latter is currently considered as one of the largest active bauxite open-cast mines. Both the Huntly mine as well as the connected aluminum refinery has been visited.


The next subject of the field trip was iron ore. Approximately 97 % of the about 275 million tons of iron ore, which were extracted in 2006 in Australia, came from the Pilbara region. The visit of the Cloud Break mine of the Fortescue Metals Group resulted in an extraordinary experience, as the trip participants were flown in by the company. This was due to the fact that the mine is located about 1.100 km north of Perth, in the middle of the Australian outback. The group was accommodated in the company’s own settlement near the open-cast mine, which was entirely built for the mining project as the whole other infrastructure, as well. The extraction of the seam-like deposited iron ore is carried out by shovel and truck as well as surface miners.


After a one-day stay in Cloud Break, the group took the bus to the mining town of Newman, from where it is only 4 km to the iron open-cast Mt Whaleback. The mine extends over a length of 5.5 km and a width of 1.5 km. With Cloud Break and Mt Whaleback, two procedurally and deposit geologically very different mines have been visited.


At the eighth day of the trip, the lignite open-cast mine of Yallourn was visited. In 2002, the production was changed to an innovative extraction system with tearing caterpillars and feeder breaker.

The trip further brought the participants to Singleton in the evening of the ninth day. The Hunter Valley is situated on the south-east coast of Australia. The coal mining and vineyard cultivation are the most important economic factors in this region. Several coal open-cast mines were situated within the travel route. Among other things, the chance to see a dragline at the opencast edge from barely a hundred meters away was revealed. Of course, the group stopped at one of the wineries for a winetasting, too.


On the following day, the participants visited the coal export port Waratah in Newcastle.


With the Chain Valley Mine an underground coal mine was visited at the last day of the excursion. The coal is extracted by continuous miners in room and pillar manner under a lake.