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The development of the industry commenced with the famous Victorian and New South Wales gold rushes of the 1850s which stimulated large scale immigration and the development of inland Australia with new towns and a pastoral industry.
While a second gold boom occurred during the 1890s with the discovery of Coolgardie and later, Kalgoorlie – Boulder in Western Australia, it wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s when the industry leaped ahead with a series of world class resource discoveries and developments. These include the discovery of oil and gas in Bass Strait, Cooper Basin and Northwest Shelf, the vast iron ore resources in the Hamersley Ranges, extensive bauxite reserves in the Darling Ranges and Weipa and the high grade coal resources in the Bowen Basin. Meanwhile technology changes improved the productivity of existing mines at Mt Isa, Broken Hill and elsewhere.
Since the late 1980s resource extraction has annually contributed around five percent of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product. Over the past three decades, mineral and energy exports have annually averaged more than 35 percent of Australia’s total receipts.
Mining Output as Percentage of GDP
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics^
^ ABS 2005 Year Book Australia. Industry structure and performance. Article - 100 years of change in Australian industry