Australia: Better Than Gold

Gold is for the mistress

—silver for the maid—Copper for the craftsman

cunning at his trade.

Good! said the Baron,

sitting in his hall, But Iron—Cold Iron—is master of them all.

—Rudyard Kipling

First the hardy prospectors came to parched and desolate Western Australia for gold in the 1850s. Then began a century of boom and bust that brought successive waves of fortune hunters seeking silver, tin, lead and later uranium and bauxite. But the find with the richest potential of all was iron ore.

In 1957, Stan Hilditch, a manganese prospector, stumbled across an iron-ore outcropping near Mount Newman that assayed at almost the maximum...

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