A Pilbara history

A potted history of the Pilbara.
A Pilbara history A Pilbara history A Pilbara history A Pilbara history A Pilbara history

The Pilbara taking shape.

Karma Barndon

May 1863- Tien Tsin Harbour and Cossack town site established

1866- Roebourne townsite and Port Walcott gazetted

1893- Marble Bar town site gazetted

1896- Townsite of Port Hedland gazetted

1898- Colonial surveyor A. Gibb Maitland notes possible iron ore at Robe River

1899- Townsite of Nullagine gazetted

1909- Townsite of Point Samson gazetted

July 1911- Railway connecting Port Hedland with Marble Bar opened

1937- Asbestos mined at Yampire Gorge, near Wittenoom

1938- Geological adviser W.G. Woolnough reported to government Australia would run out of iron ore in little more than a generation, unless the 350Mt of known reserves were conserved

April 1938- As WWII looms, Federal government prohibits export of Australian iron ore

1938- Government surveyors Finucane and Telford survey Mt Goldsworthy and report iron content of 65.66%, with estimated reserves of more than 6Mt

1950- Townsite of Wittenoom gazetted

November 1952- Lang Hancock identifies iron ore near his Pilbara homestead

1957- Stan Hilditch stumbles on massive iron ore deposit later named Mt Whaleback, the principal ore body of the future Mt Newman iron ore operation

June 1959- Hancock and partner Wright strike agreement with Rio Tinto Australia under which Han-wright would earn 2.5% royalties from gross sales of all minerals, except manganese, from their mining tenements

February 1960- Deputy Prime Minister John McEwen announced Federal government was abolishing the licensing of imports

March 1961- Western Australian government calls for tenders for Mt Goldsworthy

1961- Han-wright pegs 10 temporary reserves

1961- Australian Garrick Agnew forms partnership with Delaware company Howe Sound to register in Perth new company Basic Materials, to acquire prospecting rights to deposits at Robe River

1962- Cleveland Cliffs’ Vice-President, Bill Dohnal, visits Agnew’s deposits first hand

1962- Merger of Consolidated Zinc and Rio Tinto to form Rio Tinto-Zinc Corporation Ltd, the Australian subsidiary of which was Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Ltd (CRA)

September 1962- CRA geologists identify Mt Tom Price deposits

September 1962- Successful joint bid for Mt Goldsworthy by Consolidated Goldfields Australia, Cyprus Mines Corporation of Los Angeles and the Utah Construction and Mining Company of San Francisco. To win the Goldsworthy tender the three associates agreed to establish a port (ultimately at Port Hedland), build a causeway and construct standard gauge railway and build two townships, one at Goldsworthy and one at the port

October 1962- CRA and Kaiser Steel join to form Hamersley Iron

1962- Two geologists for Consolidated Zinc’s Haddon King discover massive hematite ore body, later named Mt Tom Price

1963- Hilditch and financier Charles Warman reach deal with American Metal Climax (AMAX) for purchase of temporary reserves taken out by Hilditch and Warman, on a royalty formula designed to earn them $10m over the life of the project

November 1963- Hamersley Iron granted temporary reserves totalling 7,008sqkm

1964- BHP asks for permission to export ore from its properties

December 1964- Japanese trading houses Mitsubishi Shoji and Marubeni-Ida arrange for steel mills to import from Hamersley Iron 65.5Mt of direct shipping ore over 16 years

January 1965- Construction begins of port at Parker Point, Dampier

June 1965- Dampier to Tom Price railway works begin; construction of 1.435m standard-gauge track from the mine site to the port, at nearly 300km

1966- Mount Goldsworthy Mining Associates open Goldsworthy mine

1966- Rio opens Mt Tom Price mine

July 1966- First fully loaded ore train from Tom Price to Dampier

August 1966- First shipment of Goldsworthy ore (20,000t) loaded at Dampier

August 1966- The Houn Maru departs Dampier port for the Yawata Iron and Steel Company in Japan (later to become Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal)

1966- Commonwealth government establishes iron ore guideline prices

1967- Iron ore discovered at Mt Whaleback, Newman   

May 1967- Hamersley Holdings Ltd shares list on the ASX                             

1968- BHP Billiton establishes iron ore mine at Mt Whaleback

April 1969- Robe River signs contracts worth $1.37 billion with Japanese steel mills, who agree to purchase 87.7Mt of pellets over 21 years and 73.4Mt of sinter fines over 15 years

August 1969- Development of  Karratha begins on Nickol Bay as joint State government-Hamersley Iron project to meet the expanding accommodation needs of the mining company   

1970- Construction project worth $274 million begins at Robe River

July 1970- East Intercourse Island connected by causeway                           

1971- Townsite of Wickham gazetted    

1972- Cape Lambert port opened            

1972- Townsite of Newman gazetted

1972- Rio opens Paraburdoo mine

1972- Townsite of Paraburdoo gazetted

1972- Townsite of Pannawonica gazetted

1972- Completion of facilities on East Intercourse Island more than doubles Dampier’s capacity

1972- $274m construction complete at Robe River

1973- Mount Goldsworthy Mining Associates open Shay Gap mine, near Goldsworthy

1974- North West Coastal Highway from Geraldton to Port Hedland completely sealed

1974- Australian iron ore exports peak at 82Mt

1982- Goldsworthy mine closes

1984- The Shinho Maru loaded at East Intercourse Island with the first cargo greater than 200,000t to be despatched from any Australian port

1988- BHP Billiton opens Nimingarra mine near Goldsworthy

1989- Jimblebar iron ore mine opens near Newman

January 1990- Rio Tinto Group opens Channar iron ore mine in Hamersley Range, in joint venture with China Metallurgical Import and Export Corporation to develop 200Mt of high-grade hematite ore over 20 years

1992- Rio Tinto opens Brockman 2 iron ore mine in Hamersley Range

1992- BHP opens Yandi mine near Newman

1992- BHP Billiton acquire Jimblebar mine

1993- Shay Gap mine closes

1993- Biggest ship to visit Australian port, the 322,941dwt Bergeland, loaded at Cape Lambert

December 1993- BHP Billiton opens Yarrie iron ore mine near Shay Gap

1994- Rio opens Mesa J mine near Pannawonica

1994- Hamersley Iron develops former Han-wright tenement at Marandoo

1998- Rio opens Yandicoogina mine near Newman

2002- Rio Tinto  develops former Hanwright tenement at West Angelas

2003- BHP Billiton opens Area C mine near Newman       

2004- Rio Tinto opens Eastern Range iron ore mine in Hamersley Range

2006- Indee Gold Mine opens at Mallina, east of Whim Creek and is closed in 2008

2006- Rio opens Nammuldi mine near Tom Price

2007- Rio opens Hope Downs mine near Newman                            

October 2007- Fortescue Metals Group begins mining iron ore at Cloud Break in the Chichester Range   

April 2008- First train runs on Fortescue railway

2008- Atlas Iron opens Pardoo mine near Port Hedland

2008- Brockman 2 iron ore mine temporarily closed

June 2009- Fortescue Metals Group opens Christmas Creek iron ore mine in the Chichester Range

2010- Rio opens Mesa A mine near Pannawonica

2010- Atlas Iron opens Wodjina mine near Port Hedland

September 2010- Rio Tinto opens Brockman 4 mine near Tom Price

February 2011- Nullagine Joint Venture between BC Iron and FMG starts exports

May 2013- FMG opens Firetail mine at Solomon Hub

October 2013- Atlas Iron opens Abydos open pit iron ore mine

December 2013- first iron ore delivery from Firetail leaves Port Hedland

February 2014- BHP Billiton announce iron ore output at Yarrie suspended indefinitely

July 2014- Atlas Iron opens Mt Webber iron ore mine

2014- BHP Billiton develops former Han-wright tenement at McCamey’s Monster (Jimbelbar)

December 2015- Temporary suspension of DSO operations at the NJV