One of Australia’s hidden treasures is the Kimberly region. It has a compounded landscape that contains fantastic waterfalls, gorges and cave systems, pockets of lush rainforests, and different types of wildlife. It is the last greatest wilderness areas in the world. Over the years, the Kimberly has grown popular as a tourism destination due to its remoteness. Its beauty captures many people’s minds, and it is not a site that you can easily forget.
The Kimberley Region’s Population
The Kimberly is sparsely occupied with only 40,000 people. This means that it has the least amount of people per square kilometre than any other place on earth. It usually has two distinct seasons, which include the dry and wet seasons since it has a tropical monsoon climate and is located north of the Tropic of Capricorn. This climate is found all across the Australian region.
The dry season has easterly winds, clear blue skies, and chilly nights. During this season, there is stable weather, and people can manage to do outdoor activities. There is also a very minimal chance of rain; hence, it is beautiful every day. The wet season is a completely different story. The weather is hot and humid and, other times, violent. During this season, the weather is very unpredictable.
One of the earliest places to be discovered in Australia is the Kimberley region, where people from Indonesia settled about 40 000 years ago. It has hundreds to thousands of Wandhina and Bradshaw rock art and drawings. These mysterious drawings are found in the outback bush galleries on the terracotta rock surface and huge escarpments in the North Kimberly.
Who Discovered the Kimberley Region?
The first person to explore the place was a European named Alexander Forrest in the year 1879. He discovered the name Kimberly district, the King Leopold Ranges, the Margaret Ord Rivers, and the fertile area between Ord Rivers and Fitzroy. He set himself up as a land agent and leased over 51 million acres of land in 1883. It’s now understood that native Australian Aboriginals have habited areas in the Kimberly region for thousands of years prior to its ‘discovery’ by European explorer Alexander Forrest.
Mining in Kimberley Region
There is a long history of mining in the Kimberley region. Gold was discovered in 1885, which opened up East Kimberley, the development of several cattle stations, and Wyndham’s port. The first iron ore mine was constructed and began functioning in 1944 on Cockatoo Island. The first shipment of iron ore was made in the year 1951. Later on, in the 1980s, zinc, diamond, and lead deposits were discovered at Cadjebut and Argyle. There were other resources discovered, including gold.
Diamond Mining in Kimberley
Kimberley region is known for producing pink and yellow diamonds over the last couple of years but shut down in 2020. It accounts for all diamonds produced in Western Australia. The Argyle Diamond Mine, owned by Rio Tinto, was the largest volume supplier and only pink diamond producer in Australia but has since shut operations in late 2020. The region is also known to produce other naturally colored diamonds such as rare blue, cognac, and champagne. Since the 1980s, this mine has produced over 800 million carats of diamonds. The Ellendale Mine found in the West Kimberley region closed down in 2015, but before that, it produced 50% of all the planet’s yellow diamonds.
Status and Trends
Due to overseas demand, Western Australia’s resources industry has grown significantly over the past ten years. This increased revenue in 2016 from $105 billion to $167.3 billion in 2019, according to the Western Australia Department of Mines. Kimberley accounts for 0.4 percent of all mining value the state generates. In 2019, nickel, gold, and iron ore accounted for almost 50% of all minerals produced in Kimberly.
Production in Kimberley is dependent on the world demand making the value of minerals very volatile. In 2019, there was an improvement in production compared to previous periods. The Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley produced $253 million worth of minerals. The Shire of Halls Creek produced $220 million worth of minerals, while the Shire of Derby West Kimberley produced $226 million.
Ore Processing in Kimberley Region
Argyle’s processing plants use screening, heavy medium separation, crushing. 1mm ore materials are rejected to the plant tailings while 3mm ore forms the feed for the heavy medium separation circuit.
Diamonds are then separated from the residual waste using X-ray in the HMS concentrate. The stones are acid washed before shipping.
Mineral Sands in Kimberley
Mineral sands are Zircon products and Titanium dioxide used to manufacture ceramics, toothpaste, welding rods, artificial joints, and paints. The site is Western Australia is said to have the best mineral sand deposits compared with any other location within Australia.
Heavy Rare Metals in Kimberley
Heavy rare metals such as Lutetium, Dysprosium, and Terbium are essential in manufacturing medical imaging, modern electronics, permanent wind turbines, magnet motors, and hybrid vehicles. The Northern Minerals Limited are significant in the high-grade deposit of Dysprosium.
Energy (Oil and Gas) in Kimberley
Many investments are put towards increasing the production of liquified natural gas in Western Australia by major resource companies for Asian Markets. Together with Prelude capital expenditure in Western Australia and Ichthys, the investments total to $30 billion. The Kimberley economy is heavily dependent on support infrastructure for offshore rigs in the Browse Basin. However, there have been widespread protests in Kimberley, which divides Broome due to allied industrialisation and processing and extraction of natural gas. Therefore, this has led to Gas processing trains being located in the North.
The Kimberley Region’s Economy
The Kimberley region is located in the northern region of Western Australia. It has fewer people per square kilometre than any other region in the world. Kimberley has four local government authorities, which include; Wyndham-East Kimberley, Halls Creek, Derby West Kimberley, and Broome. The main contributors to this region’s economy are mining, construction, agricultural production, retail trade, and tourism. It accounts for all diamond production in Western Australia, and it produced 90% of all pink diamonds on the planet. The unique landscapes and wilderness also attract a lot of tourists and investment opportunities. The tourism industry generates 12% employment and $563 million.
Near Kununurra, the Ord River Irrigated Area produces crops being the largest irrigated agricultural project. This project ensures sustainable economic growth and generates employment opportunities in tourism and agriculture. The region also has Aboriginal people making it culturally rich.