What’s it like down a mine?
It’s hard to escape that Mount Isa is a mining town, but plenty of locals work above ground in a variety of different sectors. If you’re one of those people, or if you’re thinking of becoming an underground mine worker, then you might be wondering what it’s like working down a mine.
The Hard Times Mine
One of the best ways to get a small taste of what working underground is like is by doing the Hard Times Mine Underground Tour. It’s a replica of a working mine, just nowhere near as deep as the 1.9 kilometres of Mount Isa Mines (making it the largest underground mine in Australia).
An experienced miner will take you through your tour at the Hard Times Mine, explaining what it’s like, telling you plenty of stories, and answering any questions you have. You’ll be kitted up in miner’s gear for your tour, including overalls and a helmet with a lamp, so you’ll look the part even before you set foot in the cage to take you underground. The entire tour takes about 3 hours.
One of the first things you’ll notice is how hot it gets down a mine. The further down you go, the hotter it gets. Thankfully it doesn’t get anywhere near the 70 degrees Celsius that it can in the deepest depths of Mount Isa Mines. You’ll also get an idea of how dark the conditions often are underground and why a helmet lamp is an absolute necessity.
The Hard Times Mine has about 2 kilometres of tunnels with floors strong enough to hold boom-drilling equipment and tractors. You’ll be given the opportunity to use an air-leg drill, and you’ll feel the earth shake as the blast face is fired, though not to the same extent as the two blasts at Mt Isa Mines at 8am and 8pm each day that can sometimes be felt throughout town!
If nothing else, the Hard Times Mine Tour will give you an appreciation for the hard and potentially dangerous work that underground miners do in Mount Isa every day. That work is crucial not only to Mount Isa’s economy, but to Australia as a whole.
How much does the tour cost?
$85 for adults, $68 for concession card holders, $50 for children. Family passes are available (2 adults and 2 children) for $220.
What should you wear?
Bear in mind that it’s hot down any mine. Although you’ll be provided with overalls on your Hard Times Mine tour, wear light loose clothing that you can have underneath your overalls. You must have enclosed shoes.
Can you take a camera down the mine?
When can you do tours?
The Hard Times Mine runs tours 7 days a week between 8.30 and 4.30, excluding Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and Good Friday. A minimum of 3 people is necessary to run a tour.
Where is the Hard Times Mine?
You can find the Hard Times Mine at the Outback at Isa tourism venue, 19 Marian Street.
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Featured Image Source: Discover Mount Isa.com