Day 285 | getting to the Super Pit in Boulder: and just biking around town

rest day

The Super Pit was a surprise even if you are prepared: the scale of the operation is staggering.

I missed the usual 1pm explosion: the wind was blowing the wrong direction and I’ll head back tomorrow.

31 Tonka toy trucks each carry 225 tons of gold bearing ore at walking pace up the 330 m slope, they do go faster downhill. At current prices at over $1000 an ounce the usual load has about $20k of gold for extraction but the process of separating the gold doesn’t sound particularly environmentally friendly. The face shovels are a huge unit, weighing 685 tons and costing over $10m a pop, which scoop up 60 tons of ore in each yellow bucket load and chug away relentlessly 24 hours a day.

The big hole, more of a long deep slash really and slowly heading it’s way north, was orchestrated when the hugely fragmented gold claims started becoming less economic in the 1980s and Alan Bond started buying up the individual leases to allow the mine switch from numerous deep tunnels to a single open cut operation. There’s 50 million ounces that has come out of this small area since Paddy Hannan stumbled across nuggets in 1893.

Even to this jaded traveller the operation is a stunning display of the power of international capitalism at work and the environmental devastation required to create one of life’s little luxuries.