Koolan IslandLike neighbouring Cockatoo Island, Koolan Island holds
deposits of high grade iron ore and has been mined for its or since the
late 1940s. At that time, BHP commenced open-pit mining operations on
Koolan and neighbouring Cockatoo Island and by 1963 had established
substantial mining operations there.
The Koolan Island mine closed in 1994 after BHP had extracted 68
million tonnes of high-grade haematite ore averaging 67% iron. In June
2006, exploration company Aztec Resources, which holds exploration and
mining licenses over the island and some of the adjoining mainland,
announced the reopening of the mine which it claims as holding some of
the richest and purest iron in the world, containing between 67% and
69% iron, with low contaminants in the form of silica, phosphorus,
aluminium and sulphur.
In 2007 Aztec Resources sold the mining rights to the island to
Mount Gibson Iron, after significant cost overruns, subsequently
calling the feasibility of the project into question, however the mine
continued to operate.
In April 2006, the company signed a co-existence agreement with the
Dambimangari (Dambima-Ngardi) indigenous Australian traditional owners
of the island. The agreement aims to ensure that 3% of the 220 person
workforce is filled by indigenous people by the eighth year of
When BHP ceased mining operations on the island in 1993 they flooded
the Main Pit to the ocean by blasting part of the hanging wall. This
has meant that the pit has been filled with approximately 10 billion
litres of sea water, with a significant marine eco-system forming
within the bounds of the former working pit.