Australia's New Mining Boom

Australia's New Mining Boom
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September 26, 2007—Mining firm BHP Billiton's iron mine near the town of Newman, Australia, is—like all the mines in the Pilbara—a 24-hour operation.

Newman sits in the dry and dusty region of Western Australia known as the Pilbara, where a new mining rush is bringing great wealth—and plenty of problems for the locals.

The resource-rich area is abuzz with new construction and activity, as mining companies ramp up operations to feed Asia's growing appetite for copper, aluminum, iron, gold, uranium, coal, and other minerals.

The mining boom has created plenty of lucrative jobs in the area. But expanding operations are consuming all of the available housing—driving away tourists and even long-time residents unable to cope with skyrocketing land values.

The new activity is also creating conflict with native groups, while environmentalists are growing increasingly uneasy over the effects on the Pilbara's fragile ecosystems.

—Hope Hamashige

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—Photograph by Wendy Pugh DG/Reuters
 
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