Saturday, 22 July 1995

AUC 1995 - Mt Isa (Qld): Mine Tour

Suspecting the atmosphere changing which was being done across the river by MIM, I spent the night coughing and fighting sinus headaches. Morning brought general tiredness from my lack of sleep, but medication was propping me up for the mine tour we were to take part in.

Our hosts were Campbell's Tours, who have the sole franchise for surface tours of MIM. We were driven about the mine by coach, informed and entertained by driver Colin, in the process. An English immigrant who had worked in the mine, he had a dry wit, despite the obvious sameness about his patter - a comparison I was able to make, having been informed about the tour by Gog and Pa on our first afternoon in Mount Isa. The tour took a little over two hours and included all of the surface areas of MIM and the company display building.

Whilst we enjoyed the tour and undoubtedly gained much information about the operation of the mine, it was hard not to see it as a massive publicity exercise for MIM Holdings. This was most noticeable during the video presentation at the display centre and during the discussion which was instigated by a passenger with Colin in regard to the current industrial problems at this work site. Certainly we gained information which had not been made publicly known through the media, but the
image of a benevolent and caring employer was rather over-played. Environmental issues and matters of air purity were also given scant regard by our tour guide and his role as goodwill officer was most marked when he he referred to the company using collective personal pronouns (i.e. "we"). When asked about the effect of the sulphur flowing from the copper smelter stack across the city, he told us it was "monitored". When pressed on the point, it became "closely monitored" and further questions evoked the response ...

"It's not a place where asthmatics should live"

The video extolled the virtuous nature of the company and the good they were doing for mankind in general and the people of Australia in particular. The beginning of it paid lip service to the indigenous population and even went so far as to say they were the first miners in Australia and therefore, MIM were carrying on in their tradition. Informed but suitably skeptical would best describe how Sue and I left the tour, but the information was valuable for the children. Chris was able to see an excellent display of minerals at the display centre, which provided him with tangible help in his Science workf or this term. The technical sponge which is Sam's brain, soaked up the information as it leaked out from the visual and auditory sources presented.

Environmental damage was the big idea which Sarah had firmly fixed on by the end of the tour.

Following our visit to the mine, we received welcome, but unexpected guests, for lunch.

Gog and Pa had returned from Lake Julius, courtesy of a fractured tyre on the Landcruiser. Having
undergone the rough but enjoyable trip and the 200 plus creek crossings, they arrived at the Lake only to find they had an errant tyre. Apart from the time and money for the return trip - sans caravan - they were also up for $330 for a new tyre ! Their short return visit gave us enough time to hear about the wonderful Lake Julius and its abundant bird life. However, it was soon time for what Shakespeare described as "sweet sorrow" and we parted company once more wishing each other safe passage.

Our afternoon was spent doing odds and ends of school work and making sure each of the children were to a point which could be considered reasonable, in the body of work they had to complete.

I caught up on some missed sleep from my restlessness the night before and we finished the day with a meal from Sarah. Chris, Sue and I worked on our correspondence, with postcards and letters to those at home and the evening finished with a quick general knowledge quiz on the places we had seen so far. It was very pleasing to see how much of what had been observed by the children had been retained and this further embellished our belief in the worth of this endeavour.

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