Mining the Lucky Country

Australia has been called the Lucky Country ever since Donald Horne coined the term in his 1964 book of the same name. The Australian public liked the phrase, and while they might not have interpreted it in quite the way Donald had intended, it certainly stuck. And with good reason. Australia is known to be…


Australia has been called the Lucky Country ever since Donald Horne coined the term in his 1964 book of the same name.

The Australian public liked the phrase, and while they might not have interpreted it in quite the way Donald had intended, it certainly stuck. And with good reason. Australia is known to be blessed with excellent weather (it is noted as the world’s sunniest country), a political system that keeps the vast majority of the public content, and a buoyant, resilient economy that seems to be largely immune to the financial crisis that has impacted the rest of the world in recent years.

Part of this financial crisis immunity is due to Australia also being blessed with an abundance of natural wealth in the form of minerals and ores.

Australia is a large country. It tips the scales at just over 5% of the world’s land mass and is the sixth largest (seventh if you count Antarctica) in terms of land area over all. However, its mineral and ore reserves are still out of proportion to this size.

Australia’s reserves of gold, lead, rutile, zircon, nickel, silver, uranium and zinc are said to be the world’s largest, and more than 95% of the world’s opals come from Australia. Its reserves of bauxite are the second largest (behind only the Republic of Guinea), as are its reserves of brown coal (behind the USA), industrial diamonds (behind the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and iron (behind China). With copper, Australia ranks third (behind Chile and Peru).

In addition, Australia ranks within the top six for reserves of antimony, black coal, ilmenite, lithium, manganese ore, niobium, Tantalum Marker band, tungsten and vanadium.

All this adds up to enormous wealth hidden just below the surface of the earth-and Australia is getting progressively better at realising that wealth.

Mining has always been an integral part of Australia’s history (the Aborigine people are known to have mined coal for cooking for thousands of years), but it has only recently emerged as the powerhouse for the Australian economy that it has become. Currently, it directly employs more than 200,000 people, impacts the employment of an unknown number of others, and accounts for about 10% of Australia’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

These figures are only going to increase as time goes on. Mining in Australia has been experiencing a boom for a number of years, and that boom is expected to continue for some time to come.


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