Between 1938 and 1960 the Australian Government prohibited export of iron ore because of its belief that Australia's limited accessible reserves of iron ore had to be preserved for the Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP) and the Australian steel industry. After the Commonwealth hesitantly relaxed the embargo in November 1960 to encourage exploration, independent Australian prospectors Lang Hancock and Stan Hilditch revealed that they had already discovered huge deposits of iron ore in the Pilbara in Western Australia. This article explores the development of companies to mine these deposits during a period when the Australian Government, although lifting the iron embargo, attempted to regulate the prices that the companies negotiated with their buyers. The success of the two largest iron ore companies, Hamersley Iron and the Mount Newman Company, was based on their signing longterm contracts with the Japanese steel industry, which permitted them to obtain the considerable foreign capital needed to finance the infrastructure for mines located hundreds of kilometres from the coast. While that was the case and while Hancock and Hilditch were forced to approach overseas miners to initiate the development of mining companies, Australian management of both operations was also an essential part of the success of both ventures.
Field of Research
219999 History and Archaeology not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective
970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
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