Gwalia Gold Mine

Sons of Gwalia Mine


Useful Information

Location: Gwalia, south of Leonora.
Open: Hoover House: all year daily 9-16.
Cafe: app year daily 9-15.
Gwalia Museum: all year daily 9-16.
Closed 25-DEC. [2020]
Fee: free, donations welcome.
Audio tour: AUD 2.
[2020]
Classification: MineGold mine SubterraneaMining Museum
Light: n/a
Dimension:
Guided tours:
Photography:
Accessibility:
Bibliography:
Address:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1896 Sons of Gwalia mine established.
17-NOV-1897 purchased for £100,000 by Bewick Moreing from London, after a recommendation by their mine engineer Herbert Hoover.
1903 tram service between Gwalia and Leonora established.
21-DEC-1963 mine closed.
04-FEB-1964 Sons of Gwalia mining company delisted.
1972 Gwalia Historical Gallery established by Donna and Don Reid.
1980s new Sons of Gwalia company formed by the brothers Peter and Chris Lalor and open cast mining starting.
1986 Gwalia Museum Historical Association established.
1999 underground mining started.
2001 Leonora Gwalia Historical Museum Ltd. founded which replaced the association.
DEC-2003 mine placed in care and maintenance after gold resources were exhausted.
30-AUG-2004 after a financial collapse Sons of Gwalia was insolvent.
MAR-2005 mine purchased from Sons of Gwalia by St Barbara with a 3 year plan to reopen it.
SEP-2008 production resumed.
2010 Leonora Gwalia Historical Museum Ltd obtained by the Shire of Leonora.

Geology


Description

This gold mine in Western Australia was founded by Welsh miners and named Aur-gloddfa Meibion Gwalia (goldmine (of) (the) Sons (of) Gwalia) where Gwalia is a medieval Latin name for Wales which became popular in Welsh-language poetry in the nineteenth century. The Sons of Gwalia reef is a rather big gold vein which was discovered by three prospectors. They worked it for some time but then sold it to George Hall for £5,000. Not really a good decision of them, he recouped his investment after only one month. But he knew that his capital was not sufficient to develop the mine, so he search for an investor. Bewick Moreing from London sent their mine engineer Herbert Hoover who recommended to buy the mine. They purchased the mine 1897 with a cash commitment of £100,000. Herbert Hoover became mine manager between May and November 1898 and successfully reduced costs at the mine by hiring Italian labour. Later he changed the profession and became President of the United States.

The mine flourished over the decades, always with a fierce rivalry between Gwalia and neighbouring Leonora. But with the falling gold price in the mid 20th century a slow decline finally lead to the closure in 1963. The company was delisted and the town population reduced to 40. But during 65 years of operation the mine had produced a total of 2.5 Million ounces of gold.

The brothers Peter and Chris Lalor formed a new Sons of Gwalia company in the 1980s. They started retreating old tailings, then mining the Gwalia open pit. In 1999 a new underground operation developed which cut through the old workings in 2001. However, there was obviously not much left, in DEC-2003 the mine was exhausted and placed in care and maintenance.

The Sons of Gwalia company was 2000 Australia's 3rd largest gold producer and controlled more than half the world's production of tantalum. But after unauthorised gold and foreign exchange trading activities by chief financial officer Eardley Ross-Adjie which cost the company more than AUD 190 million, it went into administratzion. The Gwalia Gold Mine was purchased from insolvent Sons of Gwalia by St Barbara Limited with a 3 year plan to reopen it. The mining resumed 2008, and was obviously boosted by the raising gold price.

Gwalia is the deepest trucking mine in the world and has reached a depth of 1,660m. The plan is to reach 2,300 metres by 2031. Apart from Gwalia, St Barbara also operates the Marvel Loch Gold Mine at Marvel Loch and owns the Tarmoola Gold Mine.

However, modern mining differs from mining 100 years ago and so Gwalia is still more or less a ghost town. The home of the young Herbert Hoover, erected in 1898 is a museum now, used as bed & breakfast and cafe, or as a recording studio for Indigenous music. Nearby is the Gwalia Museum, where remains of more than 120 years of mining are collected. It is completed by an outdoor display of mining machinery and the timber incline headframe and winder. Located at the rim of the open cast it also offers a great view. Several other buildings of the town are under protection as National Heritage, including mine offices, assay buildings, the mine manager’s house, the Government-owned hotel. And there are numerous miners cottages of the hessian, timber and iron cottage style.