Top 10 mining animals

It seems animals are getting in on the mining action.

So we’ve put together a list of the top ten fury, scaly, and slimy fauna related stories we’ve come across in the sector.

Feel free to add your own animal related tale below.


1. Hamster drives a dump truck


A hamster has managed to safely steer a 16.5 tonne Volvo FMX dump truck from the bottom of a quarry.

We have it on good grounds Charlie the hamster was paid in carrots, he may want to have a chat to his union rep about that.


2. Koala makes a lucky break koala-resize.jpg

A group of university students have managed to rescue a koala from an abandoned mine shaft in Victoria.

After stumbling across the koala in Lal Lal State Forest, students lowered a tree branch into the shaft to help the trapped marsupial scramble to safety.

But after climbing to the top of the shaft on its first attempt the koala misjudged a leap of faith and fell almost seven metres back to the bottom of the shaft.

Unharmed and undeterred, the koala reached ground level on its second attempt and climbed to safety in a nearby tree.


3. Snap, snap, snappy… Shark on a mine


This is one of the tiger sharks that lived at the bottom of the Mt Gibson Iron pit in the 100 or so metres of water that was inside the mine before it was drained.

4. Puppy power

Puppy-rescue_300.jpgA story to warm your heart, a miner in WA’s Eastern Goldfields and the beloved puppy he'd given up for dead have been reunited after the dog was rescued from a disused mine shaft.

Like any five-month old, Bruce likes to go exploring and decided he needed an adventure, but got disoriented and went missing near Barrick’s Kanowna Belle goldmine north-east of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

Bruce’s owner, Bill Honey said he had been looking for his puppy in the area for two hours, but when he heard no response he assumed he has fallen to his death down one of the mine shafts in the area.

"We looked everywhere and we couldn't find him because there were all these old mine shafts," he said.

Lucky for Honey and Bruce, Ausdrill contractors started exploration drilling at the site on Friday and when they heard a faint dog bark they went to investigate.

He had been trapped in a shaft about 10 metres deep, and project geologist of Barrick’s Kanowna project, Andrew Baker said the men had been drilling about 5 kilometres north-east of the Kanowna Belle mine at a site known as Woodline.

Barker told how Barrick’s emergency rescue team member Greg D’Rozario abseiled down the shaft to reach Bruce.

"Then he was pulled back up with the dog," Mr Baker said.


5. Snakes on a mine

This monster engulfed a goanna in one bite on a Pilbara mine site.

With eyes larger than his stomach, we are told the snake had a good case of food coma after this hearty meal.





6. Lost and hound – Underground mine rescue Rescue-dog-1_2.jpg

Despite the machine being king on site, it doesn't mean that animals have been booted out of the mining industry altogether. 

Dogs have made their way back on site through mine rescue. 

Last year American coal miner Alpha Natural Resources unveiled a world first – Ginny, a Dutch Shepherd that has been specially trained to assist mine rescue teams in locating injured and trapped underground coal miners. 

To overcome many of the issues that the dog would face following an incident, Ginny wears a portable gas detector simulator and is trained to listen for the alarm it sounds when she enters areas with high levels of hazardous gases or low air quality. 

She is trained to react to the noise and leave the area immediately, which also acts as an early warning system for any rescue crews following her. 


Ginny wears a protective coat that shields her from scratches and scrapes from debris and broken equipment on the ground. 

The dog is also equipped with a lamp and camera that provides visuals back to her handler and the rest of the rescue team. 

It is trained to wear safety goggles and a rescue hood, which would be placed over her head in the case of emergency evacuations. 


7. Arthur finds coal instead of sex arthur-and-judy-valler-pic-phil-hearne-jpg_1.jpg

Determination will get you far, as a koala looking for some lovin’ discovered in the Hunter Valley.

Arthur the koala was rescued from one of the state’s largest open cut coal mines in Muswellbrook back in 2011.

Experts say koalas looking for a mating partner can walk up to two kilometres at night.

“They're walking around looking for girls," Hunter Wildlife Rescue president and koala co-ordinator Audrey Koosmen said at the time.

"They'll move a couple of kilometres a night, no trouble at all. 

“These boys just want sex all the time."



8. When hornets attack

An unlucky operator was airlifted offsite earlier this year when he rolled his excavator into a hornets’ nest.




9. Working like a dog

Dog-digging.jpgDigging out the ore has never really been the hardest part of mining; it has always been finding the deposits in the first place. 

Because you can't dig it up if you don't know where it is. 

So how do we actually find these deposits? 

Nowadays we use magnetic surveys, geo-morphology, historical records of old mines and works, and advanced laboratory techniques to discover just what, if anything, is hiding beneath the soil. 

It's very high tech and requires a lot of skill and training to operate the equipment and know just what you're looking at. 

But now it seems there is another way. 

Plants, animals, and insects are now being considered as a first port of call for miners. 


oredog.jpgIn Northern ­Europe they are using animals, particularly dogs, in an entirely new way. 

In Sweden, Russia, Finland, and Norway, some within the mining industry have trained dogs to find ore bodies. 

Geozoology began to take off during the 1970s, as dogs were used mainly to find nickel sulphides close to the surface to fulfill demand from the region's burgeoning steel industry. 

Some of the best work came out of Finland during this early period, predominately from the Aarno Kahma of the Geological Survey of Finland. 

In the mid 60s one trained dog, known as Lari, went head to head with a prospector in a 3 km2 field, and managed to uncover 1330 sulphide bearing boulders at depths of up to 20 centimetres, while the human only found 270 surface traces. 

In the same year as the competition the dog also found a copper orebody that later proved to be fairly significant, resulting in its trainer being rewarded $2000 and the dog receiving four sausages.  

Today Swedish company OreDog AB is marketing itself as the world's first dog ore exploration company, using canines to uncover a wide range of sulphides as well as oxide ores. 

canary_0.jpg10. Coal canary

Animals have in the past played an important role in keeping miners safe. 

Canaries were used in coal mines as an early warning system for hazardous gases or poor air quality due to their high sensitivity.

Toxic gases including carbon monoxide, methane or carbon dioxide in the mine would kill the bird before affecting workers.

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