Broken Hill

Broken Hill

So where does the name 'Broken Hill ' come from? The Broken Hill area was known by early pastoralists as “the broken hill” because of the jagged and rocky ridge that rose out of the otherwise flat or undulating countryside.

The Broken Hill lead-silver-zinc deposit is the largest ever discovered. A massive sulphide lode of over 200 million tonnes with 50 million tonnes of lead and zinc and 20000 tonnes of silver. It is not surprising that companies got very rich. The most successful was Broken Hill Propriety Ltd, which is now Australia's largest company, and the world's largest mining company.

But there were many problems along the way. Mining workers and their safety were not a large concern. The union movement did much for the mining workers, creating safer working conditions and fairer pay. But to do so they had to fight some drawn out and bitter strike actions. But there was also an undercurrent of radicalism in the union movement in Broken Hill. Some union leaders wanted to see BHP destroyed and a revolution brought about. These things probably distracted from the real task of improving conditions for the workers.

Eventually all mines run out of ore. It hasn't happened in Broken Hill yet, but the ore being mined now is of much lower grades and is harder to get. In order to remain competitive mine management has brought in high degrees of mechanisation and computer control. This has reduced the workforce from 4000+ 25 years ago to just 400. This is having a big effect on Broken Hill.

Broken Hill is having to look beyond its mining roots. They are actively involved in tourism, but tourism can't provide everything. Movies have been made in the area. Other options must also be looked at. Broken Hill is moving into a different future.