This is the place to visit if you want to learn more about mining.
You can tour an old underground goldmine and try to wash your own gold. I wouldn't have been too successful in this, soon lost my patience in the sun with all the flies around.
There museum has a large collection of different minerals and a gallery to the most prominent prospectors.
The Mining Hall of fame is open from 9am to 4.30pm daily and admission is 24 AU$ for the full tour.
To see how gold is mined these days, go to the Super Pit lookout. The Fimiston Mine is the largest open cut mine in Australia and it's still growing. When finished it will be 3,8km long, 1,35km wide and 500m deep and is suppossed to produce 300 tonnes of gold until its lifespan is thought to run out in 2018.
It's really impressing watching those giant trucks appearing like toys.
The lookout is open from 7am-9pm. Contact the tourist centre in Kalgoorlie for info about the blast times.
The museum is the place to learn about the history of Kalgoorlie and to admire a lot of gold in their underground vault. Of course you also can marvel at artefacts from the days of the goldrush and learn that Kalgoorlie is also an important producer of Sandalwood!
A huge headframe stands in front of the museum, you can go up there and enjoy excellent views over the town.
The museum is open from 10am to 4.30pm and admission is by donation
The main street of Kalgoorlie, named after Paddy Hannan, the Irishman who discovered the Golden Mile, is framed by carefully restored heritage buildings from the gold rush times. The architecture can be described as a mix of Wild West and Victorian historism. The wide street once provided enough room for the camel caravans that were used for transport.
The Super Pit is a part of the 'Golden Mile', reputed to be the richest square mile of gold bearing earth in the world.
It is 320 metres deep, about 3km long and 1.4km wide which operates 24 hours a day.
You can see the giant mining trucks with tyres taller than the average person.
The Boulder Town Hall is an historic hall with pressed tin ceilings and wrought iron balustrades.
You can see the last surviving example of a working Phillip Goatcher stage curtain. This curtain depicts the scene of the Bay of Naples and has hung in the hall since 1908. I
t has been restored and is lowered by its original pulley system every Wednesday 10:00am to 12:00pm and 13:00pm to 15:00pm.
The open-cut mine in the area that once was the Golden Mile is the largest man-dug hole on Earth. The view from the lookout is impressive.
Observe the drills, shovels and trucks at work. It's hard to imagine how huge the machines which move down there like toys actually are.
Blasting occurs 3-4 times a week, enquire times at the Super Pit Shop (Baoulder, 2 Burt Street).
The lookout is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., no entrance fee.
Mount Charlotte is the lookout closest to the town and provides a great overview of the landscape with the two towns, old gold mines, superpit and the surrounding bushland.
The hilltop is used as a water reservoir that stores a good more precious than gold. Water is delivered through a pipeline from the Perth hills.
The open-air museum shows original heritage buildings from the gold rush era. Here you'll understand that the life of a gold digger was not romantic at all...
The modern building known as the actual Miners' hall of Fame includes a museum which shows prospecting methods in the past and present, minerals and ores, machinery and interactive presentations.
Guided tours take you into 35 m deep into an underground mine (see separate tip).
If the gold fever bug bites you, you can try your luck at gold panning.
The main street in Boulder is kind of a smaller edition of Kalgoorlie's Hannan Street. Heritage buildings tell the tale of the gold rush era. Today it's a bit run down, though. Not exactly pleasant in the evening.
Good cappuccino and the hugest Hamburgers I've ever seen to be obtained at Mama Maria's cafe (if I remember the name of the place correctly).
The town of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia joins onto the town of Boulder, the area is referred to Kalgoorlie-Boulder, although each had its own identity, the first photos are of Boulder.
The towns were amalganated in 1989 to become the City Kalgoorlie -Boulder.
This photo is of the town hall built in 1908, originally was a theatre.
In the Miners' Hall of Fame, guided tours take you underground to a depth of 35 m into the original shafts and galleries. The guides are retired miners who report first-hand from their own experience. A presentation of the machinery noise is included - hard to imagine how people can stand this day after day for years.
Well, there are no prizes for guessing why the Superpit is called the Superpit!
The Fimiston Pit (aka The Superpit) has no 'Guiness Book of Records' claim to fame in that it is not the deepest or widest pit in the world, and neither is it the only one located smack bang in the suburbs of a town. However, at 3.5km long x 1.5km wide x 400m deep, there is no doubting that it is a colossal great hole in the ground, and well worth a look, especially if you've never had the opportunity to get up close and personal with an open pit mine before.
The Superpit is actually quite a recent phenomenon, which only came into being in 1989 as a result of the consolidation of a number of earlier pits into one big hole by Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM). To date the Superpit (including the earlier previous pits) has generated 50 million oz of gold - that's a staggering 1,550 tonnes of gold!
The orebody in Kal is located quite close to surface (which is why they mine the ore in an open pit, rather than from underground), but because the orebody is quite complex and controlled by geological structures, it's quite a trick to mine the minimum of waste (barren) rock to expose the gold-bearing ore, whilst maintaining a stable pit that provides safe working conditions. Obviously the deeper the pit extends, the more waste rock they have to mine to expose new ore and maintain stable sidewalls and the higher the operating costs become.
For those interested in the mining process, the pit has long since extended past the zone where the ore can be 'free dug' with earth moving equipment, and so regular blasting is required. If you look at the main photo, you can just see a tiny drill rig on the large flat bench, which is drilling blastholes in which the explosive will be placed. Once the blast has taken place, the broken rock is loaded with massive bulldozers onto equally massive trucks and driven up the access ramps. The waste rock (which contains no gold) is discarded onto waste rock dumps, and the gold-bearing ore is driven to the metalllurgical plant.
At the plant, the rock is ground down into small fragments in a mill, and then mixed with water and a cocktail of chemicals, most notably cyanide. The cyanide chemically bonds with the gold and the 'pregnant' solution (containing the gold complexes) is then passed through an electrowinning circuit, where the gold metal is extracted from solution by electrolysis.
So far, so good. But what's most mindboggling about the operation are the economics. The average gold grade of ore mined from the Superpit is about 2g/tonne. That probably doesn't mean much to most people, so let's put it into layman's terms. In other words, every tonne of ore mined contains less than a teaspoonful of gold, which has to pay for all the activities outlined above AND make some sort of profit. Moreover, the Superpit's stripping ratio (less exciting than it sounds, even in a town full of skimpies!) is about 5.5:1, which means that for every tonne of ore mined, they need to remove an extra 5.5 tonnes of waste rock. In practical terms, this means that 6.5 tonnes of rock need to be drilled, blasted, loaded and transported just to generate that half teaspoon of gold. Even at the all time high gold price at the time of writing (September 2011), that's what the Aussies would call, "A big ask"!
There are some really excellent information boards displayed at the Superpit vantage point. Note that access to the viewpoint is usually not possible during blasting for safety reasons, but check at the tourist office in town just in case, as it's quite a sight to see.
See the website below on details of guided tours of the Superpit.
This is the Red Light area of Kalgoorle still in operation (1996)
I believe it was the only legal brothel in Australia and due to being cut away from the rest of Australia was legal to give the hard working miners relief without creating sex crimes in the area.
The model shows what the Super Pit will look like in 2017 when the Golden Mile is expected to be exploited. The mine will then reach a depth of more than 500 m.
The model is on display in the Super Pit Shop, which sells Super Pit souvenirs.