1982 Volume 91 Issue 1 Pages 30-50
One of the most important aspects of the mining activities in remote Australia since the 1960 's is large-scale infrastructure development by mining companies. This paper studies various types of infrastructure projects associated with the mining activities, from a viewpoint of development stages in terms of remoteness.
Three study areas are selected; Pilbara region, Kalgoorlie region and Central Queensland, in order of remoteness. Mining railways and mining towns in the study areas are classified into three types, according to the extent of financial contribution by the mining companies.
The railways of the first type are the iron are railways in Pilbara region. They are constructed, owned, operated and exclusively used by the mining companies. The railways of the second type are the coal railways in Central Queensland. They are constructed or upgraded, owned and operated by the government as a part of the State railway system, but are fully financed and almost exclusively used by the mining companies. The railways of the third type are the nickel railways in Kalgoorlie region. They are constructed and upgraded, owned and operated by the government, but are partly financed by the mining companies.
The towns of the first type are the iron are mining towns in Pilbara region. They are company towns, which are constructed and managed by the mining companies. The towns of the second type are quasi-company towns, with a minor role of the government. Dampier and Wickham in Pilbara region and Kambalda near Kalgoorlie fall into this category. The towns of the third type are open towns, which are constructed and managed mainly by the governments with financial contribution by the mining companies. Port Hedland and Karratha in Pilbara region and the coal mining towns in Central Queensland fall into this category.
These different types of infrastructure development can be interpreted as a reflection of different stages of regional development; the more developed, the less involved by mining companies. The idea is tested and supported by the historical cases in Mount Isa.
One of the significant modifications of the development process mentioned above is an influence of the government policies, where higher priorities are given to more local participation in order to discourage influences of overseas capital, and to more local processing for the more value-added within the State or national economy. The reversed order of railway types against the general order of remoteness between Kalgoorlie region and Central Queensland can be partly explained by this point.
A case study in this paper suggests that, from a viewpoint of regional development, infrastructure should not be simply defined by physical or institutional forms, but should be identified by examining actual functions. This functional concept of infrastructure would be useful for identifying the role of mining activities in regional development, especially in remote Australia.