Museum houses century of mining
In a nondescript civic building in West Kalgoorlie sits a warehouse storing kilometres of drillcore samples that collectively document a glorious Goldfields century characterised by mineral prosperity.
One of only two of its kind in the State, the facility was built by the Geological Survey of Western Australia, a division of the Department of Mines and Petroleum.
It stands today as a testament to the importance of retaining drillcore from exploration ventures to assist in the development of geological models and exploration programs.
The JH Lord Core Library at the corner of Hunter and Broadwood streets, was named after former GSWA director, the late Joe Lord.
Upon first glance, the sheer scale of the library is hard to fathom, walls lined with samples as far as the eye can see, rods painstakingly drawn from great depths.
The facility was designed to house 10-15 years of core and built with provision for expansion to house a further 15-30 years worth.
About 10km of chiefly diamond drillcore has been added to the Kalgoorlie-Boulder collection every year since the facility opened in 1999.
There are a range of factors determining which pieces of cylindrical sample are to be included in the library for future reference.
Some are archived because they were taken from what were deemed the most significant projects, while others are from areas considered inaccessible or from exceptionally deep holes.
The heavy historical gold samples have been taken from the Golden Mile, Mount Char- lotte, Sons of Gwalia, Edna May, Burbanks Main Reef and Three Mile Hill, to name just a few.
The list of nickel deposit samples includes initial drill holes from the Kambalda Dome deposits, Spargoville, Digger Rocks at Forrestania, Windarra and the Widgiemooltha Dome.
As world-class gold and nickel deposits abound in the Goldfields, a significant proportion of the samples are taken from deposits of these valuable commodities. Despite the library’s existence being rooted in the need to archive a variety of mineralisation styles, the building also exists as a monument to drillers and their art, hailing back to the days when deposits were named after those who forged a direct line to the lodes below.
Department of Mines and Petroleum Mineral Titles executive director Ivor Roberts, a former manager of the museum, was only too happy to show off a few samples that tell an important tale in the story of Goldfields exploration.
Dr Roberts pointed to an old drillcore sample which arrived from the Perth office, dusty and forgotten.
He explained the samples were taken to Europe in 1898 to promote WA and, in particular, the rich offerings in Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie.
“It’s actually as a heritage item, this is the only physical representation of the early gold lodes around Kalgoorlie,” he said.
“We have the original discovery hole for Kambalda, in (1981) and we had to get it donated — the board of Western Mining had to approve it.
“That again has historical value in that it is the hole that started the nickel discovery in WA, all from this one drill hole.”
Drillcore ready for warehousing at the JH Lord Core Library.
The equivalent of 10km of drillcore is stored in West Kalgoorlie.