The top ten stories of 2011

 As we wrap up this year, we look back at your favourite articles on Australian Mining, and what had you reading this year.

 Starting from number ten

 10. World’s largest mining blast

This video of the world’s largest mine blasting, in Canada, was amazing. The shear number of explosives used to blast a bench, 2.1 kilotonnes, is what drew in the crowds early on this year.

9. Lynas faces opposition to rare earths exports

One of the more divisive subjects this year, the coverage of Lynas and its rare earths processing plant in Malaysia saw a massive following this year. This article focused not only opposition from Malaysia, but also from local sources such as WA pollie Adele Carles, who called for it to be banned from export through Fremantle Port, stating that the radiation levels were dangerous. However fellow politician, Troy Buswell, dismissed her claims.

8. Miners’ anger over death site orders

This story, a follow up to the tragic death of a worker at BHP’s Port Hedland facility, saw BHP accused of ruthlessness by its employees. It was alleged that the company forced miners to continue working their shifts, despite the accident occurring only hours before hand.

Many walked off the job in protest.

7. Flood waters inundate QLD mine

Another video which made it into the top ten (and is a personal favourite). This was footage taken during the horrendous Queensland floods early last year. It shows Cockatoo Coal’s Baralaba open cut pit filling rapidly with water. The vehicles are quickly swamped. The mine took about six months to completely dry out.

6. Lynas slams factually wrong rare earth claims

Another Lynas piece, with the miner rejecting claims from Malaysian MPs that it was preparing to ship ore that month. Lynas chairman Nicholas Curtis said the claims were part of a misleading public campaign against the company.

"These allegations are part of a campaign to deliberately distort the facts about Lynas," he said. "They create unnecessary fear in the local community for political purposes." A Lynas feature we did at the end of this year also saw the most comments for any story we’ve written, hitting nearly 50 all up.

5. Mining in the Arctic: On Thin Ice

Another feature which made it into the top ten. This piece investigated mining in both the Arctic and Antarctic, the right to mine there, who is already doing it, and the possible outcomes – both good and bad. It also investigated whether global warming is opening up regions for mining that have never previously been available, and the potential implications of this increased damage to the environment.

4. Sex workers strike it rich in mining towns

This article looked at the rise of prostitution in mining towns, and how FIFO prostitutes were striking it rich on the back of the mining boom. It was reported that some sex workers were earning up to $2000 per day in mining towns. However, it also looked at the backlash these workers were receiving from the local community, and reasons behind its increased.

3. QLD bans kronic

This story was a sneaky addition to the top ten, as it out rated a similar story about WA banning Kronic.

The drug was the apparent big thing for the mining industry last year, and authorities took swift action to ban it. Changes to the drug laws and increased testing were a response to its increased use off site.

2. BHP worker fired for planking posters

This story tied in closely with our number one for the year.

One enterprising BHP geologist had decided to make fun of both the planking craze and the procedures at work by creating a ‘safe planking poster’, which listed how to effectively, and safely plank while at work.

While many thought the poster itself was fairly funny, BHP did not.

Especially after they had only just fired around seven workers for planking.

The geologist was given the boot and a fair number of people were outraged at the apparent unfairness of it.

1.Santos workers fired for planking on smokestacks

The number one story for the year happened during the very height of the planking craze. It focused on some frankly stupid workers who decided it would be a great idea to plank at the top of 60 metre smokestacks at a Santos plant operation in South Australia.

The photo captured their antics. While safety obviously wasn’t an issue for these men, the juxtaposition between their safety harnesses, helmets, and hi-vis, and the idiocy of planking on the smokestacks was good for a laugh.


 We’ve hoped you’ve enjoyed this top ten for 2011, and hope to see you all again next year when we come back in January to keep you informed with the latest news, technology, equipment and issues in the mining industry.

 Enjoy your break, we will.

 From everyone at the Australian Mining team.


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