Mount Isa celebrates 100 years of mining history and outback life in north-west Queensland – by Emily Dobson, Zara Margolis and Larissa Waterson (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – February 22, 2023)

Mount Isa, one of Queensland’s longest-running mining towns, has this week turned 100. Founded on the land of the Kalkadoon people, it is renowned for mine stacks that rise from red-dirt country at the foothills of the Selwyn Ranges. But as locals celebrate a rich and varied past, many look toward a future where the town’s lifeblood is sustained by more than mining.

A chance discovery

On February 22, 1923, John Campbell Miles and his horses stopped to camp during a journey through the arid Queensland outback to the Northern Territory. Curiosity led the prospector to a particularly large outcrop where he knapped off a piece of rock that, according to his writings, he instantly recognised “contained mineral from its weight”.

After sending samples to an assayer in Cloncurry, it was confirmed the earth contained significant lead-silver deposits. Mr Miles pegged three areas, establishing 42 hectares around the original outcrops.

By early 1924, there were about 200 people with mining leases in the area and in January Mount Isa Mines was formed. At about this time, mine owners began investing in the accommodation of workers and their families, transforming Mount Isa from a camping ground of shanties and tin-sheet hovels into more established houses.

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