Main Content

In a remote part of the Western Australia outback lies one of the world’s largest holes in the ground. Known as the Super Pit, the Fimiston Open Pit is part of what is known as the Golden Mile, where gold has been mined continuously since 1893. The mine sits right next to Kalgoorlie-Boulder, a city of about 33,000 located almost 600 kilometers from Perth.

The first gold rush here occurred around 1890. The easy-to-reach gold is gone, but small pieces and flakes remain. Work on the Super Pit began in 1989, and now at least 800,000 ounces of gold are dug out of the mine every year. According to the USGS Minerals Commodity Summaries (2018), Australia is the second largest gold producer in the world, after China.

Getting at the gold requires removing large amounts of ore. Hence, the gaping hole in the ground next to Kalgoorlie. Sparse vegetation surrounds Kalgoorlie and the mine.

Like much of Western Australia, the region surrounding Kalgoorlie and the Super Pit experiences hot summers and cool winters. The water bodies seen in the images south of Kalgoorlie and in the upper left are semi-dry salt lakes. On the eastern side of the Super Pit are the Fimiston Mill, where the ore is processed, waste dumps, and tailings ponds, which appear in the images as gray or white.

Imagery

Every picture has a story to tell
Sept. 21, 1986, Landsat 5 (path/row 109/81) — Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia
Dec. 8, 1991, Landsat 5 (path/row 109/81) — Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia
Dec. 22, 1999, Landsat 7 (path/row 109/81) — Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia
Dec. 28, 2010, Landsat 5 (path/row 109/81) — Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia
Jan. 24, 2021, Landsat 8 (path/row 109/81) — Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia
Jan. 24, 2021, Landsat 8 (path/row 109/81) — Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia

Correlated

Additional story information
Downloads

References (Earthshot Overview/Parent Only)

Allen, J., 2010, “Super Pit” Mine, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia: NASA Earth Observatory, accessed February 13, 2017, at http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=42763.

City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, 2017, About the Airport: City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, accessed February 13, 2017, at http://www.ckb.wa.gov.au/Facilities/Airport/Aero.

Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM), 2017, Information Sheets: KCGM, accessed February 13, 2017, at http://superpit.com.au/publications/information-sheets/.

Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM), 2017, The Super Pit—The Biggest Open Pit Gold Mine in Australia: KCGM, accessed February 13, 2017, at http://superpit.com.au/.

Morrison, G., 2015, Take a Tour of the Super Pit—The Largest Open-pit Gold Mine in Australia: CNET, accessed February 13, 2017, at https://www.cnet.com/news/take-a-tour-of-the-super-pit-the-largest-open-pit-gold-mine-in-australia/.

Population.City, 2014, Kalgoorlie-Boulder—Population: population.city, accessed February 13, 2017, at http://population.city/australia/kalgoorlie-boulder.

U.S. Geological Survey, 2017, Mineral commodity summaries 2017: U.S. Geological Survey, 202 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/70180197.

Vielreicher, N.M., Groves, D.I., and McNaughton, N.J., 2016, The Giant Kalgoorlie Gold Field Revisited: Geosceince Frontiers, v. 7, no. 3, p. 359–374, accessed February 13, 2017, at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1674987115000857.

Other Stories

Related imagery and additional content