A project from the National Trust of WA
A self-guided drive trail between the Perth Hills and Western Australia’s Eastern Goldfields. Go with the Flow. Follow the water to discover more about the audacious goldfields water supply scheme and Engineer CY O’Connor.
“Future generations, I am quite certain will think of us and bless us for our far seeing patriotism, and it will be said of us, as Isaiah said of old, ‘They made a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert”
It is hard to imagine too much water could be a problem in this apparently dry region but this has certainly been the case with the Edna May mine.
In 1910 a sandalwood cutter and part-time prospector, Alfred David Weston, discovered gold near Boodalin Soak while en route to the Eastern Goldfields. He pegged his claim and began mining. As was the way, he was soon joined by a rush of prospectors.
The following year the largest mine, the Edna May named for a family member of the prospector who applied for the first gold mining lease, was established at a nearby strike. Work at the mine progressed quickly with a shaft soon down to 20 m. By 1915 the Edna May was joined by a second mine and Westonia was reputedly the most prosperous mining town in Western Australia.
In the first eight years of its operation, the Edna May mine produced 171 000 ounces of gold. By 1922, however, the mine was forced to close. Large quantities of underground water were seeping into the mine and the supply of high-quality ore was exhausted.
Mining resumed in 1935 and the main reef was mined to a depth of 250 m. 355 000 ounces of gold were produced before the mine was once more forced to close in 1947. The same problems of water and exhaustion of the ore were compounded by the shortage of labour due to the war.
With rising gold prices and new mining techniques, the Edna May was reopened yet again in 1985, this time as an open cut mine. The new owners, ACM Gold, established a 0.5 million, later enlarged to 1.1 million, tonne per annum treatment plant. Having produced 274 000 ounces of gold (from 4.48 million tonnes of ore at an average grade of 1.97 grams of gold per tonne) the mine closed once more in 1991. Tests conducted to a depth of 270 m below the bottom of the pit indicated that there was too much water and not enough ore for mining to continue.
But in 2010, now owned by Evolution Mining, it opened again – for the fourth time – and, underground works are again underway.
Click on any map section or place below to discover The Golden Pipeline.