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Video Blasting at Mount Isa Mines, 1962

TLF ID R8929

This silent colour clip is from a film made in 1962 to celebrate the last visit of Mount Isa Mines's original prospector, John Campbell Miles. It shows blasting at the Mary Kathleen open-cut mine in Mount Isa in north-western Queensland, opening with a long shot of explosives being fired in two locations. Rocks and dust shower into the air and down the slopes where rough roads have been formed to enable collection of the ore. The clip concludes with a large truck being loaded with the blasted ore by a front-end loader while another loader waits on the terrace above.

Educational details

Educational value
  • Open-cut mining, as seen in the film, occurs when ores (rocks rich in useful minerals) lie very near to the Earth's surface. A huge pit is dug or blasted to form an open-cut or open-pit mine. Holes are drilled into the ore body several metres deep and are filled with explosives that blast the ore into small manageable pieces. Roads around the sides of the open-cut provide access for heavy vehicles.
  • The mine in the film was established after prospector John Campbell Miles found silver-lead ore in 1923, leading to the formation of Mount Isa Mines Ltd in 1924. In 1953 zinc-lead-silver and copper production began. By the 1960s the company was the hub of a worldwide network, supplying lead, silver and zinc and owning smelting, refining and recycling facilities in Europe.
  • The ore is being loaded into a truck so that it can be taken away to be processed. Before being loaded, the ore would have been crushed into smaller pieces to make it easier to move by truck or conveyor belt. During processing, crushed ore is ground into powder by being passed through giant rollers and is then smelted to extract the metals. The molten metals are then poured into moulds and cast into bars.
  • The 7-minute film from which this clip is taken shows then 79-year-old John Campbell Miles (1883-1965) visiting Mount Isa. In the film he re-enacts the moment of his discovery, participates in celebrations of his visit and receives a presentation from students at Mount Isa High School. He tours the township and the mine and is shown watching the scene presented in this clip.
  • Normally, mining of the type seen in this clip would occur in areas where drilling, digging and blasting would not disturb other activities, but the blasting shown occurs very close to the town of Mount Isa, which was established as a mining and company town in 1927. Many Mount Isa citizens work at the mines or in related jobs.
  • The workforce at the time of this 1962 film was strongly unionised and in 1964-65 a major dispute broke out centred on bonuses and the lack of provision for increases. Miners went on strike and the state government declared a state of emergency, which resulted in statewide stoppages by other workers. Union infighting followed and stakeholders were unable to negotiate a resolution. Mount Isa Mines sustained significant financial losses as a result of the dispute.
  • This resource includes closed captions.

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: State Library of Queensland
  • Organization: State Library of Queensland
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: QLD, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Name: Mt Isa Mines Holdings Limited
  • Organization: Mt Isa Mines Holdings Limited
  • Description: Author
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: State Library of Queensland
  • Organization: State Library of Queensland
  • Address: QLD, AUSTRALIA
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Video
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and State Library of Queensland, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements