MINERAL RESOURCES

The Australian Resources Atlas, published by the Commonwealth Division of National Mapping, lists minerals under the headings Very Large, Adequate and Inadequate. It is instructive to inspect this information together with the History of Tide Recording and to see that many of the locations at which records were taken coincide with those of mineral deposits. Up till 1900, apart from regions with increasing populations, including Sydney (CC), Brisbane (BB), Melbourne (LD) to Adelaide (OH) and Bunbury (BU) to Perth (FM), attention was focused on the Queensland Coast, along which much of the shipping to the East Coast passed until just before the First World War. Following this war, recording of tides and development recommenced until the Depression interfered. The Second World War saw a resumption of harbour building not only along the East Coast, but also around the North-West Coast. Torres Strait intermittently received attention during these periods.

In the Late Fifties, development started in earnest as the export of minerals grew. Permanently recording tide gauges were installed at many locations. One is tempted to ask how many of the dots on this chart reflect dashed hopes and failures of new coastal centres and back-country enterprises and whether similar stories will be repeated at some of the locations which are going ahead today, as their mineral supplies fail or the world market for minerals and primary products shrinks.

The distribution of the Coastal Population of the Census 1971 in conjunction with the above information indicates the pollution potential of Man's presence along Australia's Coast.

Australia's richness is best demonstrated by the Large Mineral Deposits which have increased substantially since 1970. These include aluminium, coal, iron, lead, manganese, salt and zinc and are found between Cooktown (CT) and Cairns (CA), Townsville (TL) and Bundaberg (BG), Newcastle (NC) and Port Kembla (PK), around North-East Tasmania, between Albany (AL) and Bunbury (BU), Dampier (PD) and Port Hedland (PH) and in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Among the Inadequate Reserves of 1970, petroleum held a special place. Since then the large deposits on the North-West Shelf and in Bass Strait have been opened up, while exploration in the region of the Great Barrier Reef has been restrained for environmental reasons.