ANZPT Perth: Chasing fortune in the wild west

In 1957, a prospector by the name of Stan Hilditch was picking around the Eastern Pilbara region of Western Australia, about 1200 kilometres north of Perth. One of the most isolated and inhospitable regions in the country, the Eastern Pilbara had little use except as marginal pasture until Hilditch discovered that the region was also home to massive deposits of iron ore.

Unfortunately for Stan, export restrictions on iron ore - a hangover from World War II - meant his find was virtually worthless, until the embargo was lifted three years later. By the late 1960s, exports commenced to Japan and the Mt Newman mine was on its way to becoming the largest and richest of its type anywhere in the world.

To meet the staggering demand, the biggest open-cut iron ore mine in Australia was established, the town of Newman was built, the longest privately owned railway (426 km from Newman to Port Hedland) in the world was constructed, and the port facilities at Port Hedland were upgraded to handle 16,000 tonnes of iron ore per hour. Australia remains the largest producer of iron ore, most of it from those arid hills through which Stan Hilditch wandered more than 50 years ago.


So how do you move a mountain of iron ore? With a really, really, really big truck!

Iron ore is just one of the minerals which has helped make Western Australia the nation's richest state. More than 99 per cent of Australia's (and 13 per cent of the world's) nickel is found in WA, the Argyle diamond mine is the world's largest producer and almost 65 per cent of the nation's gold is mined here.

Riches of a different kind will be up for grabs at Perth's Burswood Casino today when the remaining 112 players reconvene for day two of the ANZPT Perth Main Event. Seven one-hour levels have been scheduled, which should reduce the field close to the money bubble of 24 players. The first hand will be dealt around 12.30pm local time today.