The Outcrop: Back to Broken Hill article comment

IT'S very nice to see the spiritual home of Australian mining get a mention in Top marks for the subject but some of the content is a bit slapdash.
The Outcrop: Back to Broken Hill article comment The Outcrop: Back to Broken Hill article comment The Outcrop: Back to Broken Hill article comment The Outcrop: Back to Broken Hill article comment The Outcrop: Back to Broken Hill article comment

Modern day exploration in the Broken Hill region

It's ironic that an article aimed at re-introducing the largely forgotten mining backstory to the iconic Broken Hill/ BHP discovery should get details askew and omit key facts

The 1867 gold rush mentioned was a hoax and focused on Poolamacca Station, 50km north of Broken Hill. There was an earlier 1858 SA Government party that prospected the Barrier Range region (where Broken Hill is located) for gold without success.

The iconic Broken Hill Lode "discovery" story is all about George Rasp on Mt Gipps Station - many km to the south of Poolamacca.

Now to the glaring omission in the article.

Prior to "discovery" (pegging) of the Broken Hill Lode in 1883, and the 1885 recognition of its huge potential, there was significant small siderite-galena vein oxide silver mining at a number of locations in the Barrier Range region.

The first silver veins were discovered at Thackaringa in 1875 and in production by 1876. The Thackaringa vein field is located 30km WSW of Broken Hill and interestingly are within sight of Cobalt Blue's current feasibility project. More proof, if any was needed, that no area is ever exhaustingly prospected.

At Silverton (originally Umberumberka), 20km NNE of Thackaringa, similar veins were discovered in 1879 with production under way by 1881. The nearby Apollyon Valley veins were discovered in 1883.

Silverton, well known as the backdrop to many iconic Australian movies, was the first significant town in the Barrier Ranges and its population was in the order of two to three thousand at the time of the pegging of the Broken Hill Lode, which is situated 25 km to the east. There was even a substantive commercial syndicate - the Barrier Ranges Silver Mining Association - founded in 1884 to consolidate and develop the regions silver vein mining assets prior to recognition of the significance of newly pegged Broken Hill Lode.

In fact, the Broken Hill was well known to the first silver vein miners and prospectors in the region who considered it the "worthless hill of mullock" as the surface ironstone exposures were heavily leached and carried little or no obvious near surface metal. The bonanza was below the ironstone exposures and awaited the first shaft sinking by the soon to be minted BHP in late 1884 and 1885.

So, as the article commendably highlights, there is a far more complex backstory to the iconic Broken Hill Lode's discovery and the birth of world's largest mining company. It's a backstory with many signposts and lessons on the journey to discovery of the "big one" that should not be forgotten. Many of the world's giant mineral deposits have similar backstories. Indeed, the "big-ones" backstory is a recurrent theme in the character of history of mining worthy of careful study.

In Broken Hill's case the mining backstory is fundamentally all about silver veins, not gold. All that glitters is not gold.