1.2 million litres per week!
As understandable as it was, I was dumbfounded. This place was climate change central! I knew that steel had a fairly heavy carbon footprint, but this brought the fact home with a crash. All that diesel, and that just gets the ore to the train. It still has to be taken to the port, loaded onto ships, taken around the world and then turned into steel via another intensive usage of energy.
Despite all that, it was good fun looking at all the big trucks and machines. I'm sure the boys enjoyed it, and thinking about it now, it seems as if the folks working here are really just grown-ups playing with super sized tonkas. It also gave me a much better understanding of how many support areas go into mining anything. Building the roads, maintaining the machinery, fuel suppply, water cartage, train systems, explosives, conveyor belt parts and maintainence, all the people to support the workers and their families, and of course, middle managers to carry clipboards.
On the tour with us, was a guy who brought his father and his son along to show them where he worked. He drives one of the massive refueling trucks that services the semi fixed machinery like bulldozers and scoops. I had a chat to him as we stood at the lookout into a deep open cut mine that was just about finished with. He told us that there were twenty such holes inthe ground just as big or bigger, at this facility, and it took him about an hour and twenty just to drive to the furthest one. The pit we saw was contaminated with phosphorus and sulphur and was really quite dangerous if you were down in the bottom of it. I think they had to have special monitors in the toyota prados you can see in the picture below, that checked the air quality outside the vehicle.
In all, I would say it was worthwhile going on the tour, and certainly it gives you an insight into the mining industry that you can't get from the suburbs of Sydney or Newcastle.