Oh my these early mornings are really getting to me. I'm really not a morning person. But at least I don't have to drive yet. I'm sure at some point I'll be asked. lol I'm just not used to driving on the left as yet. I can't wait to see the mine. I've been to 5 different mines in the US but I've never been to this type of mine.
The Mount Tom Price mine is an iron ore mine located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, near Tom Price.
The mine is fully owned and operated by Rio Tinto Iron Ore and is one of twelve iron ore mines the company operates in the Pilbara. The Pilbara is a large, dry, thinly populated region in the north of Western Australia known for its Aboriginal peoples, its stunning landscapes, the red earth and its vast mineral deposits, in particular iron ore. In the calendar year 2009, the combined Pilbara operations produced 202 million tons of iron ore. The Pilbara operations accounted for almost 13 percent of the world's 2009 iron ore production of 1.59 billion tons.
The Hamersley Range, where the mine is located, contains 80 percent of all identified iron ore reserves in Australia and is one of the world's major iron ore provinces. Rio Tinto's iron ore operations in the Pilbara began in 1966, with the Mount Tom Price mine opening that year. Mount Tom Price was the companies first mine to open in the Pilbara. The mine has an annual production capacity of 28 million tonnes of iron ore, sourced from open-pit operations. The ore is processed on site before being loaded onto rail. Ore from Mount Tom Price is transported as lump and fines ore product from the mines to Dampier via rail. Before being loaded onto ships for export, the product is blended and rescreened. The maximum size for the lumps is 31.5 mm, while the fines are at a maximum of 6.3 mm.
Ore from the mine is then transported to the coast through the Hamersley & Robe River railway, where it is loaded onto ships. The mines workforce is residential and lives in Tom Price. In the calendar year 2009, the mine employed 1,515 people, a decrease in comparison to 2008, when it employed 1,701.
The equipment is on a scale that makes our jaws drop! We are not even half the height of one tire. The boys with their toys though. Looking down those huge trucks, scoops and drills look like ants. They remind me of tinker toys that young kids play with. Knowing the actual size of the equipment makes it just that much more impressive to us all!
After we are finished gawking we all load back up in our tiny looking campers and get back on the road. We are headed to Karijini National Park.
The National Park is centered in the Hamersley Ranges of the Pilbara region in northwestern Western Australia. The Hamersley Ranges is a mountainous region of the Pilbara, Western Australia. The range runs from the Fortescue River in the northeast, 460 km south. The range contains Western Australia's highest point, Mount Meharry, which reaches approximately 1,249 meters. There are many extensively-eroded gorges, such as Wittenoom Gorge. The twenty highest peaks in Western Australia are in the Hamersley Range. Geologically, they are some of the most ancient regions of the earth's crust known as the Pilbara craton.
It is just north of the Tropic of Capricorn, approximately 1,055 kilometers from the State's capital city. It was formerly known as Hamersley National Park. At 627,442 hectares, it is the second largest national park in Western Australia (Karlamilyi National Park is larger). The park is physically split into a northern and a southern half by a corridor containing the Hamersley & Robe River railway and the Marandoo iron ore mine.
A party led by explorer F.T. Gregory explored the area in 1861. He named the Hamersley Range, on which the park is centered, after his friend Edward Hamersley.
The park is located in the Pilbara region, and is mostly tropical semi-arid climate. In summer, thunderstorms and cyclones are common, bringing 250–350 mm of rain annually. Temperatures on summer days frequently exceed 40 degrees Celsius, while winter nights can bring frost.
The five gorges that flow north out of the park, the Bee Gorge, Wittenoom Gorge, Kalamina Gorge, Yampire Gorge, and Dales Gorge provide spectacular displays of the rock layers.
Banded iron formation (BIF) - Brockman iron formation
Banded iron formations (also known as banded ironstone formations or BIFs) are distinctive units of sedimentary rock that are almost always of Precambrian age. A typical BIF consists of repeated, thin layers (a few millimeters to a few centimeters in thickness) of silver to black iron oxides, either magnetite (Fe3O4) or hematite (Fe2O3), alternating with bands of iron-poor shales and cherts, often red in color, of similar thickness, and containing microbands (sub-millimeter) of iron oxides. Some of the oldest known rock formations, formed over 3,700 million years ago, include banded iron layers. Banded layers rich in iron were a common feature in sediments for much of the Earth's early history but are now rare.
Dolomite - Wittenoom dolomite
Dolomite is a carbonate mineral composed of calcium magnesium carbonate CaMg(CO3)2. The term is also used to describe the sedimentary carbonate rock dolostone. Dolostone (dolomite rock) is composed predominantly of the mineral dolomite with a stoichiometric ratio of 50% or greater content of magnesium replacing calcium, often as a result of diagenesis. Diagenesis is changes to sediment or sedimentary rocks during and after rock formation (lithification), at temperatures and pressures less than that required for the formation of metamorphic rocks or melting. Limestone that is partially replaced by dolomite is referred to as dolomitic limestone, or in old U.S. geologic literature as magnesian limestone.
Shale - Mount McRae Shale
Shale is a fine-grained, clastic sedimentary rock composed of mud that is a mix of flakes of clay minerals and tiny fragments (silt-sized particles) of other minerals, especially quartz and calcite. The ratio of clay to other minerals is variable. Shale is characterized by breaks along thin laminae or parallel layering or bedding less than one centimeter in thickness, called fissility. Mudstones, on the other hand, are similar in composition but do not show the fissility.
The park is most notable for its four prominent gorges marked by waterfalls and water holes. The park's wildlife includes red kangaroos, euros, wallaroos, echidnas, geckos, goannas, bats, legless lizards and a large variety of birds and snakes, including pythons.
We also go visit Hamersley Gorge. The Rocks exposed in the gorges of Karijini National Park originated as fine grained sediment which accumulated on an ancient sea floor 2,500 million years ago. At this time, the atmosphere contained much less oxygen and the only forms of life were simple bacteria and algae. Many of these sediments laid down in the oceans were rich in iron and silica.
Over hundreds of millions of years, the iron-rich deposits were transformed by the pressure of further sediments laid down over them, and they gradually turned into tough well-bedded rock. The gorges were eroded when a sharp drop in sea level caused the rivers to erode the landscape rapidly — a process enhanced by the onset of a more arid climate, which depleted the protective vegetation cover on the valley sides.
We all pack back into our campers and drive to the EcoKarijini Campsite. It is just cute and we all get settled and take a hike.
When we get back we find someone has left us wine and food to eat. That was so thoughtful of them.
After we all partake in the wine and food we make it an early night tired from the last couple of days travel. I'm so excited to go hiking around looking into all the gorges around here.
I ended up with 1030 steps because I found a great knee brace in Exmouth!
It won't fix my knee but it does make it feel better than without it.