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Far from Ordinary

Ores, Technology Research

The mining and minerals sector in Tasmania entered a cyclic downturn in 2008 after riding the global commodities boom fuelled by demand from China. Exploration investment had reached a 15-year high in late 2007, with more than 4,000 people employed in mining and minerals processing. Production had been around $1.5 billion a year and exports had exceeded $350 million a year. Then the global recession saw some major mines placed on care and maintenance and widespread job losses in the industry.

The west coast of Tasmania is one of the most heavily mineralised regions in Australia and its mineral industry has played a significant part in economic and cultural development for well over 150 years. World-class ore deposits lie in an arc of volcanic lavas from Low Rocky Point in Tasmania's south-west, northwards through the great mines past and present of Mt Lyell, the Dundas mineral field, Henty-Zeehan mineral field, Renison Bell, Rosebery, Tullah, Que River, Hellyer then eastwards to the Moina mineral field near Sheffield.

Hot metal-bearing fluids, associated with undersea volcanism approximately 600 million years ago, poured out on to a sea floor to form the copper, lead, zinc, silver and gold ore deposits that are presently being mined at the Mt Lyell, Rosebery and Henty (gold only) mines.

Mining expertise in Tasmania has evolved, from being focused only on winning the resource, to providing innovative techniques and equipment so that operations can be increasingly efficient and environmentally sensitive. Tasmanians now sell their hard-rock expertise and the technology they have developed to the mining industry worldwide.

Caterpillar designs and constructs underground mine machinery in Burnie and distributes it to far flung markets. Haulmax, located in Wynard, manufactures extended distance off-highway bulk haulage vehicles for mining applications. Terratec Asia Pacific, near Hobart, designs and builds tunnelling and drilling machines that can be found working in mines in America and Europe, as well as Australia

The University of Tasmania based Centre for Ore Deposit and Research has an international reputation for excellence in geological research. With the advent of natural gas as an energy source, Tasmania is set to develop partnerships with companies anxious to add value, through innovative and environmentally sensitive methods, to the State's abundant natural resources.

West coasters have seen booms and busts before and are confident the good times will return.

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