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What is Underground Mining in Australia and What We Look For

What is Underground Mining in Australia and What We Look For

Underground mining is an exciting business within Australia. Accounting for 8% of the GDP, it’s an industry that is at the forefront of our economy, with over 350 active mines in the country today. These mines each produce their own products, with 19 valuable minerals produced by Australian mines every day. There are mines throughout Australia, but New South Wales, Western Australia, and Queensland are the most active states. This blog is all about underground mining in Australia.

The Underground Mining Industry in Australia

The Australian mining industry is incredibly influential across the country. In 2018-19, NSW produced around $25.5 billion of coal from its mines, demonstrating the power and profit in this industry. Similarly, Queensland generates around $21 billion per year in coal mining: thousands of people are employed within the coal mining industry every single year.

There is huge economic power in mineral mining. In fact, across Australia, many mines rely heavily on hard rock or mineral mining, which includes materials like gold, silver, copper, aluminium, and zinc. Australia is a world leader in bauxite production. In Orange, NSW, Newcrest’s Gold, Silver and Copper Cadia Valley Operations is one of the largest underground ines in Australia and has reserves of 37 million ounces of gold and 8.2 million tonnes of copper. Again, these mines are responsible for thousands of jobs and inject hundreds of millions of dollars into the economy every year.

Mineral Resources in Australia

Mineral Resources in Australia

As said, Australia is a world-leading country in mineral mining. The Australian mineral resources include:


Iron Ore Australia is the world’s largest supplier.
Nickel Australia produces 12.5% of world production.
Aluminium With 29% of world production in 2015,
Australia is the world’s largest provider.
Gold Australia has reserves of 37 million ounces.
Silver Australia is the 5th largest producer in 2015.
Copper Australia produces 6% of the world’s output.
Uranium Australia is responsible for 11% of the world’s production.
Opal Australia produces 95% of opals worldwide.
Zinc 12% of the worldwide output is in Australia.
Coal World’s largest exporter.


As you can clearly see from this table, Australia is a world leader in exporting minerals from our many mines. It’s why the mining industry is an influential leader in economic decisions and possesses huge political power. Different states are capable of producing other minerals.

Types of Underground Mines in Australia

Types of Underground Mines in Australia

There are different types of mines used throughout the industry. Essentially, the two main types of mining are surface mining and underground mining. This blog focuses on underground mining, so we will continue to explain the different types within this area.

Underground mining involves creating tunnels from the ground surface into the mineral seam. These tunnels can be hundreds of metres below ground level and are used to transport the heavy machinery that will extract each type of mineral. There are two main types of underground mining in Australia: bord and pillar and longwall.

Bord and Pillar

This is the oldest underground mining technique in the world. It is used heavily in coal production throughout Australia. This method involves a grid of tunnels and progressively cutting into the coal seam. Coal pillars are used to support the mine roof. This method is gradually becoming outdated as companies turn to more efficient and safe methods to extract minerals.


This method is much safer, cost-effective, and efficient. Longwall mining uses mechanical shearers to cut coal while relying on hydraulic-powered supports to keep the mine safe and supported. As the machinery moves through the mine and continually extracts coal, the supports move forward, allowing the roof of the mine to collapse behind it. This method is now much more preferred to bord and pillar because it doesn’t leave behind coal pillars, allowing for more to be extracted.

There are several other popular methods of underground mining, like:

● Open stoping
● Block caving
● Cut and fill mining
● Shrinkage
● Room and pillar

Each method comes with its own positive aspects, as well as safety risks. They are also used depending on the material being extracted, so different mines will use other methods.

Mining is a leading industry in Australia, and it’s clear to see why. Employing thousands of people each year, both directly through the mines and indirectly through contracting, machinery and equipment, and more, it’s an ever-growing industry. However, as the world turns to different power sources, specific mining industries, like coal, are threatened. Time will tell how Australia tackles the differing global priorities while continuing to be a world leader in this particular industry.


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