Harsh, arid and lonely. The Western Australian outback is an inhospitable place. Despite the difficult conditions, however, men have pursued their dream of finding gold in this challenging region for well over a century. At Coolgardie in the 1890s, their hopes were well founded, for nearby lay what would become famed as the richest square mile on Earth.
Paddy Hannan, a 50 year old prospector originally from Ireland, walked the 600 kilometres from Perth to try his luck. Together with Thomas Flanagan and Dan Shea, he pushed a further 39 kilometres in a north-easterly direction and on 14 June 1893 made a discovery that was to change the face of Australia.
Within hours of the claim being registered, a stampede to the gold diggings had begun. As the news became more widespread, local men were joined by ranks of hopefuls from all over Australia and as far away as China, Europe, Africa and America.
Developed in 1893 for Western Australia’s arid conditions, dry blowing machines were equipped with bellows that separated dust and dirt from heavier gold.
As a result, Coolgardie expanded quickly and Kalgoorlie, Western Australia’s most celebrated gold mining town, grew up around Hannan’s Camp. With a honeycomb of ever expanding underground shafts and tunnels topped by headframes (winding towers), the area was memorably dubbed the Golden Mile.
Remarkably, more than 125 years after its discovery, the Golden Mile remains at the heart of the Australian gold mining industry – albeit in a dramatically different form!
The Super Pit
Amid a global recession in the early 1980s, gold experienced a sharp leap in demand. Rising prices breathed new life into the region which saw another huge boom in activity.
It was during this decade that businessman Alan Bond began buying up individual mining leases, the precursor of a seismic shift in the Kalgoorlie landscape – literally.
Bond’s vision involved sweeping away some 3,500 kilometres of underground workings and creating a single, enormous open cast pit. Ultimately, the project was completed by the Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM) joint venture, which has created a void so vast that it can be seen from space!
According to KCGM, the Super Pit is 3.5 kilometres long, 1.5 kilometres wide and more than 600 metres deep – and is continuing to expand. Tonnes of rock are regularly blasted, scooped up and trucked away to the crushers. Even now the modern miners must remain wary of the potential hazards of old underground workings.
About 800,000 ounces of gold has been recovered annually over the past 25 years. This impressive quantity accounts for about eight per cent of Australia’s total gold output. In a country currently ranked second among the world’s top producers, it represents a truly remarkable resource.
Taking Australian gold to the world
Investors and gold bugs worldwide who are fascinated by the history of Australian prospecting can now claim a genuine piece of Super Pit gold for themselves.
Encapsulating the spirit of Western Australia’s golden heritage, the 2019 Australian Super Pit 1oz gold bullion coin comprises gold sourced exclusively from the iconic mine. Portraying the stepped sides of its enormous canyon-like hollow, the highly desirable release has a mintage of just 15,000.
The coin’s awe-inspiring scene is also portrayed on a pure silver version with a total mintage of 100,000.
Buyers in Australia are invited to purchase both coins from The Perth Mint online at perthmintbullion.com, in our Bullion Trading Room, open seven days a week at 310 Hay Street, East Perth, or through Customer Services on 1300 201 112 during normal business hours.
Overseas buyers should contact leading coin dealers.
Unique additions to the Mint’s renowned line up of 99.99% pure gold and 99.99% pure silver coins, both releases are issued as official legal tender under the Australian Currency Act 1965.