17/10/2013 - 10:48

Tales of mining published as The Miners

17/10/2013 - 10:48

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Tales of mining published as The Miners
The Miners author Barry Avery, governor Malcolm McCusker and Atlas Iron managing director David Flanagan. Photo: Attila Csaszar.

West Perth restaurant and bar Black Tom's, a long-time favourite for thirsty mining executives, was a fitting venue for the launch yesterday of a book that features many of the personalities that have helped to build the mining industry across Australia.

The hardcover book The Miners has hundreds of images and 200 pages of personal stories from those in the industry telling the challenges faced, the huge risks and sometimes even greater rewards, as well as tales of failure.

The book is the brainchild of Atlas Iron chairman David Flanagan, who told an audience of 100 people it was not a history book, but a record of how great the mining industry was.

"Twiggy [Forrest] did a great interview for this book so you never know, you might read this and make a billion dollars," Mr Flanagan said.

Western Australian Governor Malcolm McCusker spoke at the event, recounting how as a child he had asked his dad if grandad had made any money in the mining industry before being told he had, but blew it all on fast women and slow horses.

There were serious stories among the humour, and Mr McCusker reminded the audience that regulatory issues that slow down the mining industry today existed even in the pioneering days.

He recounted how Lang Hancock had discovered iron ore in 1952 but had to wait eight years before an embargo on mining it was lifted.

Mr McCusker said the book's tale of how Mr Hancock approached his friends – businessman Stan Perron and fellow prospector Peter Wright – at a meeting in Kings Park for £1,000 each was just one example of the many legendary stories of mining.

The money was to pay for the pegging of leases and fueling an aircraft in exchange for a one-third stake.

Mr Perron famously decided the loan was too risky at the time, but agreed to pay £500 for a 15 per cent share.

While that has delivered royalties ever since, Mr Perron would have doubled his income from the Pilbara project if he had put in the extra money.

Author and mining journalist Barry Avery said the book was a reflection of mining business told from the people who had experienced it, including well-known business people, financiers, unionists, mine workers and politicians.

"What you hope The Miners will do is give a glimpse of some of the hardships, the risks that go alongside the rewards, which are plenty as we know," Mr Avery said.

Proceeds from sales of The Miners will go to the Starlight Children's Foundation, which this year is celebrating its 25th anniversary helping sick children and their families.

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