The Australian mining industry has a unique vocabulary filled with technical terms and jargon. We’re putting together a guide to some of the most commonly used terms and phrases and will be adding more over time, so watch this space.
Whether you're a seasoned mining professional or simply curious about the industry, you’ll enjoy reading about these terms and some of the history that led to them coming about!
At Fosterville, the term 'brow' is used to describe the entrance way to a stope (another lingo term which we will provide a definition for soon). The origin of the term 'shoulder', comes from the historic mines which had much smaller tunnels than the ones you’ll find at Fosterville, resulting in the curvature of the tunnels starting at shoulder height.
Ever heard the the terms "face" and "back"? Well, it turns out that they have been around since the early days of mining. The roof of the tunnel was called the "back" because miners had their backs to it while shovelling ore. The "face" was the end of the tunnel that they were retrieving ore from, which was what they faced while at work. Makes sense!
Things you will hear mining crews say about the back and the face are:
Ever heard of Run-of-Mine and a ROM pad? A ROM Pad is like the VIP lounge of a mine – where the rock stars hang out before hitting the stage (or in our case, the processing plant)!
Did you know that we use a BIOX(R) process at FGM to extract gold from our ore? The process involves using naturally occurring bacteria to oxidise sulphide minerals and release the gold. The bacteria live in specially designed tanks that have been continuously fed since the plant began operating in 2005.
A microscopic look at the BIOX bugs at FGM
Or watch on YouTube HERE
These terms originated from early mining methods, where the side of the stope that miners hung their lanterns on was called the "hanging wall," while the side they placed their feet on was called the "footwall."
Today, the terms "hanging wall" and "footwall" are used to describe the rock sections that are above and below the gold orebody.
Crib is one of those confusing words that has attracted a lot of totally unrelated meanings over time, from a cot, to an apartment, to a card game, to plagiarising, to complaining ... but in mining lingo, it basically means a work meal.
It is believed the name came about because the Cornish miners used to play the card game Cribbage during their breaks, so the meal area underground became known as the "crib room".
In the early days of hard rock mining, "nippers" were the young boys (sometimes under 14 years of age!) who worked alongside the experienced miners underground. While the name "Nipper" has stood the test of time – and their role as trades assistants underground remains vital – the rules have changed and Nippers now have to be a more appropriate age.
Today, Nippers handle multiple responsibilities such as loading and unloading bolts onto utility vehicles, responding to equipment needs, and ensuring the smooth flow of operations.
Fun fact: Today's Nippers can count themselves lucky they don't have to empty the "thunder boxes" anymore! These makeshift toilets, resembling buckets with seats, were once an unavoidable part of the miners' day-to-day routine during their 8-9-hour shifts underground.
Mine drills weren’t always jumbo size!
The first drill used on the Bendigo Goldfields was made at Horwood’s Foundry (circa 1880), which was located where Girton’s Primary School’s campus is today.
The Holman Drifter, a Cornish-designed rock drill, replaced the Horwood model in the early 1900s and was a lot safer because it pumped water through the drill bit which prevented silica dust.
You can see examples of both these historic drills on a tour of Central Deborah Gold Mine in Bendigo.
The Central Deborah Gold Mine were kind enough to provide us an image of the first iteration of a bogger which was introduced in 1938. How times have changed!