JUNE 2024

Your guide to Australian mining lingo

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! 

Mineral Resource

A mineral resource is a concentration of minerals that have been identified and measured with reasonable certainty but have not yet been proven to be economically viable for extraction. Mineral resources include both measured and indicated resources, which are estimates based on geological information, as well as inferred resources, which are estimates based on fewer data and are considered less reliable.

Mineral Reserve

A mineral reserve is a portion of a mineral resource that has been demonstrated to be economically and legally extractable under current socio-economic and operating conditions. Mineral reserves are usually based on detailed exploration, engineering and economic feasibility studies, and are subject to more stringent requirements and criteria than mineral resources.


A raise bore is a large scale masonry drill used to excavate a circular hole from one underground level to another, without the use of explosives. 

A raise bore is traditionally set up on the higher level, to pilot a hole to a lower level. A reaming head of a specified diameter is then attached, to pull back through the earth in order to excavate a larger circular hole.

At Fosterville Gold Mine, raise bores have multiple uses.

In development, they are used to create:

  • airways (both for exhausting and feeding fresh air), 
  • escape ladderways, and
  • straighter long-term service holes.

In production, raise bores are used to create voids or slots, for our stoping areas. By using a raise bore for production, we guarantee the successful excavation of blast holes into these voids without using more explosives and drill holes to gain the same outcome.

A stope is a void created by production blasting and provides access to the gold bearing ore. See below to get a full picture of what happens in the process. 

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:

  • “Scale the face” - remove loose rock.
  • “Drill the face” - drill holes for explosives.
  • “Charge the face and fire the drive” - put the explosives into the drilled holes and detonate in the tunnel.
  • “Scale the back and install ground support” - remove loose rock and install rock bolts, shotcrete and mesh to make it safe.

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!