A West Australian ochre mine has been acknowledged as the oldest working mine in Australia.
According to the West Australian the Wilgie Mia mine, located in the Weld Range near the town of Cue, has been added to Australia’s National Heritage List.
Federal Heritage Minister Tony Burke announced that “this important place helps to broaden our understanding of the history of mining in Australia.”
He went on to say that “around 19,600 cubic metres of ochre and rock weighing around 40,000 tonnes is estimated to have been removed using traditional Aboriginal techniques, including pole scaffolding with wooden platforms so the ochre could be extracted from different heights in the rock face at the same time. "
Excavations at the mine have occurred for at least 2000 years according to dating on stone tools found at the site.
However, research points to the mine operating as far back as 30 000 years ago, with the ochre traded throughout Australia, traces of which have been found as far away as far north Queensland.