City of Broken Hill

Looking to the Future, Honouring the Past

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– By Aleisha Parr

One visit to the rather isolated NSW city of Broken Hill and you’ll discover that it’s anything but the dusty old mining village of yore.  While the city still boasts a thriving mining industry, it has also evolved to become a cultural and social mecca, actively developing interests in the tourism and film industries.  With its vibrant red landscape in contrast with its vast cerulean skies, Broken Hill’s isolation becomes not a hindrance, but a beckoning for explorers and artists alike.

Broken Hill has long been one of Australia’s most important mining towns, with Charles Rasp’s 1883 discovery of the largest silver, lead and zinc deposits anywhere in the world.  In fact, BHP Billiton – one of the world’s largest mining companies today – has roots in the area as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company.

Many of the industrial standards we employ today were forged in Broken Hill in its early years through its extraordinary trade union activities.  Issues we now take for granted, like workers’ compensation or standard work hours – were fought and resolved there.  Through these struggles, Broken Hill became a leader in the labour movement, helping to support the formation in 1923 of the Barrier Industrial Council, a group of 18 trade unions and one of the city’s most influential organisations.

“The mining companies after that started becoming very, very good corporate citizens,” Broken Hill’s Mayor, Wincen Cuy, recounts.  “They produced parks, events, and sporting activities, and grounds were developed and maintained during that period of time.  From an early period of time they actually would help green the city, so it was a very, very prosperous and great time to live in Broken Hill.”

Just two years ago though, with the global collapse in metal prices, it looked as though the end was near for long time mining city Broken Hill.  Losing nearly half of its workforce with the closure of Rasp Mine in 2008, the community hit a lull, looking outside of the mining industry for sustenance.  But now, with a full-on revitalisation effort involving a number of exploration and mining companies, the future once again looks encouraging for the mining industry in Broken Hill.

Says Mayor Cuy: “We quite obviously are one of the world’s leaders in developing, and the mineralisation in and around this area is just phenomenal – it really is phenomenal.  So people are once again starting to explore and develop in and around Broken Hill. Whilst we are doing that, we are still trying to diversify our industry into tourism, into the film sector, and trying to make sure that we are not necessarily only reliant on exploration and mining but we do diversify.”

Mayor Cuy also reports that a number of junior development companies and prospecting companies have been exploring the city and its surrounding region for everything from tin to iron ore and oxides – some with significant discoveries.

Carpentaria Explorations has recently announced its discovery of 1.4 billion tonnes of iron ore at Hawson’s Iron Prospect, 60 km southwest of Broken Hill.  The resulting potential project, currently entering a bankable feasibility stage, could mean the creation of a mine with a fifteen year plus life and magnetite production starting at 6 million tonnes a year in 2014, eventually increasing to up to 20 million tonnes a year.

Minotaur Explorations, a smaller company in Broken Hill, has called for smaller magnetite project owners on the Braemar Iron Formation to join together in their search for iron ore, to develop a “super iron plant”, which could save billions of dollars in up-front project costs while delivering up to 100 years of regional mining.

Said Andrew Woskett, Minotaur’s Managing Director in a press release dated February 2, 2011: “Should our projections become fact, as explorers work towards defining resources and reserves, it is reasonable then to see the possibility of several new magnetite mines along the Braemar Iron Formation, each potentially hosting several hundreds of millions of tonnes of magnetite rich siltstones, near a centre better known for its historic lead, silver and zinc production.”

Even the historic Rasp Mine has been given a new lease on life, having achieved final development approval on its new major expansion project by the NSW Government on February 2nd of this year.  As part of the expansion, CBH Resources plans on building its own processing plant, with construction set to commence in March 2011 and operations anticipated to begin mid-2012.

The company expects to directly employ 160 workers once in operation, with approximately twice that amount gaining employment through flow-on effects. In a recent news report in the Barrier Daily Truth, Professor Ian Plimer, a Director with CBH Resources and a well-respected geologist from the area, reports: “I think the Rasp mine tells us what everyone already knows – that the orebody has a lot of juice left in it . . . We’re certainly very happy to be keeping Broken Hill going as a mining town.” With all of these recent developments, it seems certain that Broken Hill will continue to thrive in the mining industry for years to come.  The area is still rich in resources, and is ready to grow with the proper investments nurturing that process.  Mayor Cuy asserts that, with the continuation of mining activities spreading throughout the entire region surrounding Broken Hill, the city can become a hub of activity as well as a provider of the core infrastructure, which would be a great benefit to its future growth as a dynamic community.

“Not only do you have that, from a mining perspective,” recounts Mayor Cuy, “but you can actually encourage your partner to come because we have a huge art opportunity in Broken Hill as well.  We have more art galleries than we have pubs in Broken Hill.  From a mining town that used to be renowned for its ‘rough and tough’ we are now a very sophisticated community.”

With an assortment of quality coffee houses, art galleries and boutique shops, the downtown core of Broken Hill has become a thriving cultural destination. Boasts Mayor Cuy, “I’m really excited about our future . . . it’s a place that every Australian should visit because they won’t be disappointed.”

He adds, “We’re looking forward to our future, but we never, ever forget our past.”

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

November 21, 2018, 3:46 AM AEDT