Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame Historical Profile – Lang Hancock (1909-1992)

Lang Hancock discovered and promoted  the vast iron ore deposits in the Pilbara of Western Australia

On 16 November 1952 prospector and pastoralist Lang Hancock and his wife Hope were flying over the Hamersley Range in Australia’s rugged Northwest. Bad weather forced Hancock to fly low over the headwaters of the Turner River. From the cockpit Hancock noticed large bands of red rock on the hills below and wondered if they might be iron ore. Six months later he returned to the Turner River and confirmed his discovery; a discovery that provided the impetus for the establishment of the huge iron ore mines in Australia’s Northwest. Hancock’s aerial prospecting earned him the title “The Flying Prospector”.

Langley Frederick George Hancock was born June 10 1909. He was a descendent of the pioneering Hancock family who had arrived at Cossack on the Sea Ripple in 1864. His father, George Hancock, built the homestead at Mulga Downs station and it was here that Lang Hancock spent most of his childhood, eventually becoming the station manager.

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Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame Historical Profile – Edward Townley Hardman (1845- 1887)

Edward Townley Hardman was a geologist who discovered payable gold in Western Australia’s Kimberley District Western Australia As an inductee in the category of Prospectors and Discoverers, Edward Townley Hardman is recognised for his important role in the first discovery of payable gold at Halls Creek in Western Australia in 1885. After graduating with a …

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Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame Historical Profile – Kitty Pluto (Unknown – Unknown)

Kitty Pluto was one of the most successful Aboriginal prospectors on the Cape York Peninsula, Queensland.

Aboriginal people have been involved in Australian prospecting and mining from its beginning. Aboriginal guides and assistants were as crucial to frontier prospectors as they were to explorers; their bushcraft was used to find mineralisation as well as tracks and water. On the small remote fields of the north, their labour was particularly important. Henry Reynolds cites the Mulgrave mining warden writing in 1891, that local Aborigines were “Very useful to the miners, who have so many difficulties to contend against, in a country so much broken and covered with so dense a jungle”. On the Rocky goldfield, on Cape York, local Aborigines carried in all supplies because the country was too hard for packhorses.

Aborigines also prospected and mined, either alone, or as partners or assistants of non-indigenous miners. Unfortunately, they are seriously under-documented and we know only a few of them by name.

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Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame Historical Profile – Tom Flanagan (1832-1899)

Tom Flanagan was one of the prospectors whose discovery of gold in 1893 paved the way to mining in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia

2. Hannan’s reward claim was registered in two names, Patrick Hannan and Thomas Flanagan, on June 17th 1893.

Kalgoorlie#47; Boulder’s Golden Mile is recognised as the richest mile in the world. The gold mines and the nearby city owe their existence to the discovery of gold made by Patrick Hannan, Tom Flanagan and Dan Shea in the area in 1893.

Born in Ireland, Hannan, Flanagan and Shea had migrated to Australia in the mid-nineteenth century. Flanagan arrived in July 23, 1860 at Melbourne and went to the fields at Bendigo in Victoria; Hannan arrived in Melbourne in 1863 and most likely went to join relatives in Ballarat; and Shea probably arrived at the end of the 1860s

By the time they came to the newly discovered fields to the east of Perth in Western Australia, all three had prospected or worked in mines in various colonies. 

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Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame Historical Profile – Athol Stanley (Stan) Hilditch

Athol Stanley (Stan) Hilditche (1904-1992) was a prospector and discoverer of major iron ore deposits in the Pilbara region of Western Australia

Few Australians outside of the mining industry would readily associate Stan Hilditch with the vast iron ore mines of WA’s Pilbara; in the popular view of discovery and progress, other names tend to spring to mind. Yet, Stan Hilditch was central to the discovery and foundation of the Mt Newman mining operations. Upon his pioneering contribution has been built an outstanding legacy in the form of one of the largest iron ore mines in the world: at the time of his death in 1992, the mine had produced considerably more than half a billion tons of iron ore over a period of 23 years and the operators expected that more than this again would come from known reserves.

Aside from the extent of his investigation and discovery in the Pilbara, Stan Hilditch is also remembered for what one Chair of BHP noted as ‘his tenacity, vision and unassuming nature [that] represented the very best qualities of the people of Australia’s mining industry.’

Stan Hilditch was born in Newcastle, NSW, in 1904, and came with his family at a very early age to the Eastern Goldfields of WA.

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Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame Historical Profile – Henry James Evans

Henry James Evans (1912-1990) was a leading exploration geologist and the discoverer of the world-class Weipa bauxite deposits in Queensland, Australia.

Henry James Evans was born on 7 November 1912 in Greymouth, centre of a mining region on the south island of New Zealand. He was educated at the Reefton High School and Reefton School of Mines where he studied geology. Initially he gained experience evaluating gold dredging areas on the west coast and later worked for Austral Malay Tin, Alluvial Tin and Consolidated Goldfields. In 1938 he joined New Zealand Petroleum as a senior geologist and spent six years supervising oil drilling, logging and mapping. He spent most of 1945 with the NZ Geological Survey assessing the resources of the Greymouth Coal Basin.

Evans moved to Australia in 1946 to join the Zinc Corporation (now Rio Tinto) and was appointed Chief Geologist with Frome Broken Hill, looking for oil and gas in various parts of Australia, but also did some work on potash in UK and uranium at Rum Jungle.

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Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame Historical Profile – John Campbell Miles

John Campbell Miles 1883-1965John Campbell Miles (1883 – 1965) was the prospector and pastoral worker who discovered the mineralisation upon which the famous Mt Isa Mine was established in Queensland.

John Campbell Miles was born on 5 May 1883 in Melbourne. He was a wanderer and an adventurer from the time he ran away from school to work with a bootmaker. Blainey listed his quick progression of jobs as ploughman, miner, carter, railway navvy, wild-pig hunter and windmill repairer.

At the age of twenty-four (1907) he took a job as underground worker at Broken Hill, but stayed only until the following April before riding his bicycle 1,500 miles to the Oaks goldfield in north Queensland. While Miles would return to labouring work within a few months, his inauspicious prospect at the Oaks led to his discovery of the greatest twentieth century Australian mine.

From the Oaks, Miles worked as farm labourer in the Wimmera, then returned to Queensland where he spent ten years drifting from station to station, probably supplementing his wages by fossicking. After a brief visit to Melbourne in 1921, he decided to follow up the reminiscences of an elderly boundary rider who claimed to have seen gold on the Murranji Track, a cattle trail in the Northern Territory.

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Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame Historical Profile – Patrick (Paddy) Hannan

Patrick (Paddy) Hannan 1843-1925Patrick (Paddy) Hannan (1843 – 1925) was one of the prospectors whose discovery of gold in 1893 paved the way to mining in  Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia.

Kalgoorlie/Boulder’s Golden Mile is recognised as the richest mile in the world. The gold mines and the nearby city owe their existence to the discovery of gold made by Patrick Hannan, Tom Flanagan and Dan Shea in the area in 1893.

Born in Ireland, Hannan, Flanagan and Shea had migrated to Australasia in the mid C19. Flanagan arrived in the early 1850s and went to the fields at Bendigo in Victoria; Hannan arrived in Melbourne in 1863 and most likely went to join relatives in Ballarat; and Shea probably arrived at the end of the 1860s.

By the time they came to the newly discovered fields to the east of Perth in Western Australia, all three had prospected or worked in mines in various colonies. In 1867, for instance, Hannan left for New Zealand and worked there for six years before returning to Australia. He arrived in WA in 1889, Flanagan probably in the same year, and Shea around 1892. Like many from the eastern colonies at that time, they found their way to the developing finds on the Yilgarn. Hannan’s accounts of his time in the west report that in 1892 he was working at Parker Range, south-east of Southern Cross.

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The Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame – Stan Sudol

Australia is considered the third largest minerals producer in the world, larger than Canada. The value of minerals exports (including oil and gas) is forecast to reach A$116 billion in 2007-08. As a result, Australian mining, supply and service companies and expertise are in demand around the world. In fact 60% of global mines use …

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