Mining Heritage

open-cut.JPGMining was South Australia’s first primary industrial activity and therefore has a unique place in the development of the State’s economic social and cultural identity.  Mining has also made an impact on the natural and built environments including settlement patterns and transport systems. The widespread abundancy of minerals found and exploited within South Australia during the last 170 years has left a significant array of heritage items which form an important and legitimate part of the State’s heritage.  The South Australian Mining History Group is involved in the documentation and conservation of South Australia’s mining heritage to enhance the understanding and appreciation of the contribution and history of South Australian mining.

What is Mining Heritage
enginehouse.JPGMining heritage is extensive and manifested in many ways. On one hand it is the tangible elements associated with the physical environment of mines such as workings, buildings, relics, records, etc. On the other hand, mining heritage embodies human experiences, social customs and lifestyles associated with past mining.

records.jpgRecords of mining company operations are generally large and varied, and include such things as annual reports, correspondence, working plans and photographs. Other historic records associated with mining activity are those compiled by Government mining departments relating to inspections, leases, etc. Photographs and sketches of mining operations form another group of contemporary records, which are usually part of numerous official collections, where there are usually adequate conservation practices.

slag-heap.JPGMining sites contain the physical evidence of mining and processing activity. This includes mine workings which may be underground or open cut, surface dumps, slag heaps, railway systems and surface structures. Structures may be associated with obvious mining activities such as pumping, winding and mineral processing, or for administration and housing of employees. Remaining relics range from small items such as picks etc. to large boilers and engines.

ruins.jpgThe physical evidence of mining also includes the infrastructure which supported the operation such as settlements and transport networks. This is particularly significant in Australia where many mines are located in remote areas and have had a direct influence on the establishment of towns and transport systems.

miners-cottage.jpgMining settlements contain evidence which illustrates the lives of the people who were directly involved in mining activity. These settlements are part of mining heritage and just as important as the industrial remains which should not be isolated from the social context in which the mining operation took place.

Why Conserve Mining Heritage
Mining heritage represents a record of part of our cultural and technological history. Sufficient evidence must be kept to provide insights into the technical and human aspects of mining. This will allow present and future generations to learn from personal experience how much mining owes to human commitment and endeavour.

visitors.jpgMining heritage provides the opportunity for a wide range of educational experiences for schools, tertiary institutions and the public. Mining sites can be developed for the appreciation and enlightenment of future generations. Such sites also offer, of course, the possibility of increased public awareness and respect for the mining industry, its processes and people, its history and heritage.

Mining heritage can play an important role in cultural tourism which contributes to the local economy. Heritage conservation provides the visitor with authentic evidence and experiences of how former generations lived and worked.

South Australian Mining Heritage Sites

This page aims to provide a complete index to all public mining heritage sites in South Australia. These include museums and interpretive centres, underground mine tours, and interpretive walks and drive trails.

Mining Heritage Information