Here's a history of mining in Australia.

Australia’s proud mining history – how far have we come?

Right from Australia's early days, way back when it was first populated around 60,000 years ago, mining and minerals were integral to the continent's culture. At Locker Group, we're committed to providing Australian mines with the right tools and structures to enable them to carry on this amazing tradition. Here's a look back at how far mining has come since it first started all that time ago. 

Aboriginal art

Between 40,000 – 60,000 years ago, when the Aboriginal people came to Australia, they began the country's very first mining phase. They dug for ochre, which they used to make pigments for paint. This gave rise to the traditional browny-red colour that's often seen in Aboriginal cave paintings and rock art. The Aboriginal people also dug for suitable stones for weapons and tools. 

The early colonial period 

It was the early days of European settlement that first saw minerals being produced on a large scale in Australia. Coal was discovered near Newcastle (NSW) in 1791, just three years after the First Fleet arrived. The coal was essential for heating, cooking and later steam power. This was the beginning of the coal industry, and the first export occurred in 1799, when a shipment of coal set out for India. 

In Glen Osmond on the outskirts of Adelaide, lead became the first metal to be mined in Australia in 1841. Copper mining then began at Burra and Kapunda (both also in South Australia) not long afterwards. 

Gold rush

In the 1850s a gold rush began that was to put Australia's mining industry on the map. First found in NSW in 1823, there were sporadic discoveries of gold traces for a number of years before gold mining really took off. It was the finding of payable alluvial gold in 1851 near Bathurst in NSW as well as the rich reserves of it in Victoria that really saw gold mining begin properly. As word got out that Australia might be the next big gold rush centre, people began to emigrate there. This growing population enabled increased industrial development and more money to be invested into gold mining. 

This all meant that, by the 1850s, Australia was producing almost 40 per cent of the world's gold, according to the Australian Mining Association. Victoria in particular was to become a centre for gold mining for many years afterwards.

The familiar browny-red of aboriginal art comes from the minerals they first used to create pigments.The familiar browny-red of Aboriginal art comes from the minerals they first used to create pigments.

The late 19th-century

Tin was discovered in 1871 at Mt. Bischoff in Tasmania, and then Inverell in NSW. Soon, Australia's great mines were established – silver, lead and zinc were mined at Broken Hill in NSW, while gold was a major export from Coolgardie and Kalgoordie in WA. Iron ore was produced in South Australia and copper and gold at Mt. Morgan near Rockhampton, Queensland. 

The 20th-century

There were few new mineral finds during the first half of the 20th century, and mining in Australia experienced something of a decline. However the Pilbara iron ore region was developed in WA, and new metals were discovered in the second part of the 20th century. These included bauxite (the source of aluminium), nickel, tungsten, rutile (the source of titanium), uranium, oil and natural gas.

The goldrush of the 1850s laid the foundations for Australia to become the second largest exporter of gold.The gold rush of the 1850s laid the foundations for Australia to become the second largest exporter of gold.

Mining in the 21st-century

Australia is now one of the world's major exporters of minerals. For example, Australia is the world's largest coal exporter, worth $34 billion in export value in 2015, as reported by the Department for Industry, Innovation and Science. The same source tells us that Australia is also the world's largest exporter of alumina and iron ore, as well as the second largest exporter of gold and the fourth biggest exporter of nickel.

At Locker Group, we want Australia to continue this impressive tradition and remain one of the world's top producers of minerals. This is why we're committed to providing your mine with the walkways, screening equipment and other tools to help you stay competitive and safe. Our mining product developers are industry experts, and here to help at every step of the way.

For more information, please contact us

Australia is starting to compete with China over tech metal mining.

Is Australia on the verge of a new tech metals mining boom?

Australia may be on the verge of a new mining boom based on new "tech metals." If we are to really succeed, however, a value-added component must be introduced before shipping the products overseas. 

What exactly are tech metals?

These are metals used in the high tech components of modern technology. One of the most obvious examples is lithium, which is used in smartphones, laptops, digital cameras and tablets. Tech metals are often used to make the batteries that store the power that comes from renewable sources. This makes them particularly important as more impetus gets placed on finding cleaner fuels to power the world. 

Australia is already a key provider of tech metals. Western Australia, for instance, is now making strong claims to be the world's lithium capital. Although there is only one lithium mine at present, a recent investment of an estimated $500 million may mean that there could be as many as seven by 2018, according to ABC. 

Rare earth metals are also becoming an important part of Australia's mining output. These are found in the earth's crust, and there are 17 on the periodic table. While they aren't actually that sparse, the difficulty is an economic one in that they are rarely found in enough quantity to be economically viable for mining. Up until recently, they were exclusively exported by China, many deposits have now been found in Australia. Examples include neodymium and praseodymium, which is used to make magnets. 

Lithium is a key component in mobile phone batteries.Lithium is a key component in mobile phone batteries.

How can Australia compete with China?

George Bauk, Managing Director of Northern Minerals, told ABC that "we can compete with the Chinese if we look at the quality of the product that is here."

"Their grades are a 10th of what we have. Our grades are about 6,600 parts per million. Their grades are about six parts per million."

The key is to add value. Much of Australia's current mining output, particularly iron ore and coal, is simply shipped to China as is, and is then often imported back into Australia once China has added value by manufacturing it into several different products.  

Vincent Algar, Managing Director of Australian Vanadium Ltd, said to ABC that we need to learn from this lesson:

"I don't think that anyone in the lithium space, or the vanadium space, or the cobalt space for that matter, should not do that given our experience in the last boom, where we shipped a lot of tonnes away overseas."

Vanadium is another important tech metal. Though originally used for strengthening steel, its real value is as a component in redox batteries. "We've got this new developing industry with growing demand, and I think we should be able to make the redox flow batteries in Australia because we do have a lot of technology," Algar said.

We need to learn from the lesson of coal and iron ore and start adding value before exporting.We need to learn from the lesson of coal and iron ore and start adding value before exporting.

Australia the perfect place for adding value

Australia already has the regulations to add value, in terms of water usage restraints, environmental and pollution considerations, transport and disposal. 

"There's already a well-established regime and bureaucracy in place to regulate that, and we think it's better to do that at the mine site where it all happens, rather than trying to do it offshore and making it somebody else's problem," said Gavin Lockyer, Managing Director of Arafura Resources, to ABC.

At Locker Group, we know how complex mining is, especially with this move to extracting rare earth and tech metals. That's why our mining product developers are committed to staying on top of industry developments. Our experts understand that every mine is different, so talk to us today to find out more about our screening products, walkways and gratings. 

Alien would have had a very different ending if Locker Group products had been used to build their spacecraft.

How would Locker Group products have seen the Alien crew safely home?

The much-hyped new Alien film is about to grace our screens, and we're sure it's going to be an absolute thriller. However, we can't help but feel that if the Alien crew had been using Locker Group products to build their spacecraft, there wouldn't have been anywhere near as much of a kerfuffle in the first place. Here's why.

Highly corrosive acid just isn't a problem with Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP)

We all know that scene in the original film, when Kane (played by John Hurt) has a mysterious alien attached to his face that can't be removed. As the crew try to cut the creature from him, they discover that the blood that gushes from the wound is actually a highly corrosive acid. The crew, scared it's going to breach the hull, chase the acid as it rips a hole through several layers of spacecraft.

This makes for a great movie scene, but had their walkways been made using FRP, this would never have been an issue. Locker Group FRP is ideal for use in corrosive environments (for example, chemical plants, or perhaps spaceships with a high chance of alien encounters). It can be subjected to continuous spills, fumes or even submersion, and its non-sparking and non-conductive properties mean it's also perfect for hazardous electrical applications where atmospheric gases might otherwise explode. 

If your spaceship happens to go slightly too close to the sun, FRP's UV inhibitors also help protect against sun damage and degradation. 

The added safety of perforated metal and Pic-Perf means no more heading unawares into dark rooms

Remember that scene when Brett (played by Harry Dean Stenton) follows the ship's cat into an engine room, where an alien just happens to be lurking ready to kill him? Well that would never have been a problem if the spacecraft had perforated metal screens. The holes in the metal allow people to see out while stopping others seeing in, meaning Brett could have had a good old look before entering the engine room. Likewise, the alien might not have been able to plan its attack so well if it hadn't been able to see Brett coming.

Spaceships in general could do with a little more interior design, and we think Pic-Perf is the best material for it.

Perhaps Locker Group's Pic-Perf could have been a welcome addition to the spacecraft. It has all the extra safety features of normal perforated metal, but also has the capacity for images, which are made out of the hundreds or even thousands of holes placed into the metal. Spaceships in general could do with a little more interior design, and we think Pic-Perf is the best material for it.

We work closely with our clients so that we can tailor our products to their exact specifications. Perhaps if the Alien crew had contacted us, they would have made it home safely. 

The Lego Tower, or The Icon as it's formally known, is our of our favourite uses of expanded metal in architecture.

The Icon: Creating a sense of community and colour with expanded metal

The sun can present a huge problem for architects in Australia. Fortunately, Locker Group have the solution. We make expanded metal to a variety of specifications in order to protect your building from the sun's harsh glare. The Icon, an apartment building in St Kilda, Melbourne, represents one of the most innovative and creative ways our product has been used. Here's why.

The Lego Tower

The Lego Tower features expanded metal in a variety of different colours. The Lego Tower features expanded metal in a variety of different colours.

This amazing creation is the work of a collaboration between artist Matthew Johnson and architects Jackson Clements Burrows (JCB). It features six artfully balanced cubes, which are wrapped in several different colours of Locker Group expanded metal. As the sun moves over the sky, each piece of metal changes colour slightly, giving it a dynamic, playful quality. 

While many think of metal as purely existing in different tones of grey and silver, The Icon is changing that perception. In fact, the building is also known as "the Lego tower' due to its similarity to the coloured building blocks. Mr Johnson said the design was intended to brighten up an otherwise fairly "dead" area of St Kilda. 

"Having visited and inhabited St Kilda through parts of my life, one can't help but feel there needs to be something … totemic or sculptural that is like a signifier to this neighbourhood," he told domain.com.au.

"Because you are creating this vertical habitat in that location, it's actually invigorating a whole site in an intelligent way rather than just building another faceless building." 

A sense of community

The idea of the different boxes, according to Andrew Jackson, director of JCB, is to create a feeling of community, with each separate colour representing a different neighbourhood.

Expanded metal provides both an aesthetically pleasing and functional way to deal with the sun.

"It was a way of thinking about an apartment building not just as a singular entity but a collection of communities," he said to architectureanddesign.com. This must surely be something that architects of the future will take into account, as people try and move away from the traditional conception of tower blocks as lacking in community spirit. 

As The Icon proves, expanded metal provides both an aesthetically pleasing and functional way to deal with the sun, by cutting out glare while still making the most of available natural light. It can be used above windows, entrances, walkways, or along the whole length of a structure. If you would like to use expanded metal for your project, please contact us

Locker Group rural flooring is perfect for your farming needs.

Why is Locker Group metal flooring best for your livestock?

If you're a farmer, your livestock's health and comfort is probably one of your principal concerns. The flooring that your animals spend their time on, therefore, is of great importance. Did you know that Locker Group don't just do metal floors for industrial sites, but is committed to providing the best rural flooring for your farming needs too? Here's why we're a great option for you and your animals. 

1) Superior strength

We use heavy duty woven wire for our rural flooring, which is far stronger than a lot of the other materials often used for livestock. This means it's highly durable and will last a long time. Your installation costs will also be reduced if you go with Locker Group, as we design and make our floors to order, so there's less messing around when it comes to construction. 

Locker Group are here to help with your farming needs.Locker Group are here to help with your farming needs.

2) Self-cleaning

Our floors are self-cleaning, which means not only do you have to spend less time washing our products, you'll also massively reduce the chance of your animals picking up disease. As our floors are made of woven wire, there are holes for pig waste to fall through, meaning you'll no longer have a problem with dirty and slippery floors. 

3) Eliminates slips

It's very hard to handle animals when they're panicking, and one of the main things that causes them distress is if they start slipping over. Fortunately, Locker Group has anti-slip mechanisms in place for all of our rural flooring. For sheep, this involves a four direction wave to increase resistance. When it comes to pigs, the crimping of the wire gives them a secure foot hold, while the smoothness and roundness of the wire makes it comfortable for them to lie on. 

Lambs in particular are prone to slipping, which is why we've taken anti-slip measures with our rural flooring.Lambs in particular are prone to slipping, which is why we've taken anti-slip measures with our rural flooring.

4) Better ventilation

As our floors are made of wire, there is increased ventilation for your livestock, meaning reduced risk of overheating. 

5) Versatile

Our metal flooring can be used for a range of rural purposes, including in abattoirs, stock transport, farrowing pens, weaner crates, bacon/grower pens, feed lots, and shearing sheds. On top of this, it's light weight and easy to transport.

We also provide agricultural mesh for fencing and screening. If you're interested in obtaining Locker Group woven wire flooring for your agricultural needs, or would like more information, please don't hesitate to contact us.

A very rare dinosaur fossil has been found in an outback quarry.

Rare dinosaur bones found in an outback quarry

A 100-million-year-old fossil of a rare dinosaur-bird has been discovered in a dry quarry in Richmond, Queensland. Here at Locker Group, we ensure we keep on top of all the latest quarrying news, so that we know we're providing you with the necessary materials to operate your business effectively. This new discovery just goes to show that at your quarry you might be unearthing more than just everyday rock and stone. 

So what is the Richmond Raptor?

Quarries in the area turn up dinosaur bones relatively frequently, but the "Richmond Raptor", as it's now being named, is the first discovery of a dinosaur-bird in the area. Around 500 kilometres from the east coast, Richmond is the capital of Australia's Inland Sea, and therefore the discovery of the bird came as something of a surprise. 

The prehistoric dinosaur-bird was found in a quarry miles from the coast.The prehistoric dinosaur-bird was found in a quarry miles from the coast.

Dr. Patrick Smith, curator of Richmond's prehistoric experience museum Kronosaurus Korner, spoke to ABC about the discovery. 

"This is the first indication that they're actually here — previous to this we didn't know they were in Richmond," he said.

"Because Richmond was at the centre of the inland sea during the cretaceous period, it's really strange to find these bird-like fossils in the middle of a seaway."

It's thought that the bones are from the Nanantius eos species, a creature Dr. Smith said was not dissimilar to a seagull. "They would've been like a modern seagull, living on the coastline, feeding on fish that have washed up and occasionally going out to sea," he explained.

Volunteer victory

The discovery came about from the work of a local volunteer, Mike D'Arcy. He started the project over five years ago, after he'd found some fragmented bones that looked as if they were from a bird. It was only until he found the humerus that they were able to positively identify it. The species was then confirmed by Dr. Smith as the nanantius eos. 

Speaking to ABC, Mr D'Arcy said he was thrilled to have discovered the dinosaur. 

"For me it's the fun of the hunt — and it's always good to find something new and something different and share it with others," he said.

Dr Smith is now recruiting a number of local volunteers to help find any other dinosaur bones in the old quarry.

How can Locker Group help your quarry?

At Locker Group, we provide all sorts of tools and materials to help your quarry be as productive as it possibly can. We recognise that quarries extract a variety of materials, and that's why we offer different screening media depending on your needs. You never know, you might just discover a dinosaur along the way. 

Perforated metal is used in a wide range of acoustical solutions.

How is perforated metal used in acoustics?

People value peace and quiet. This is why it's so important to consider acoustics when undertaking an architectural project. Here at Locker Group, we know how diverse perforated metal is, which is why we provide custom shapes and sizes to meet any requirements. Did you know that perforated metal is a key application in acoustics, however? 

There are two main ways perforated metal can be used in acoustics. The first is as a facing for something else, and the second is as a tuned resonant absorber.

Perforated metal is a great way to shut out unwanted sounds.Perforated metal is a great way to shut out unwanted sounds.

As a facing for acoustical material

Different acoustical materials will be used with the goal of either absorbing, reflecting or scattering sound, depending on what you are using your acoustic application for. This material, frequently foam, normally needs to be encased in something that will protect it. This is where perforated metal comes in. You will need something that will let the sound waves pass through, while still providing enough protection for your acoustic material. Perforated metal, which is strong but has lots of holes in, is perfect for this.

Tuned resonant absorbers

The second way perforated metal is used in acoustics is with a tuned resonant absorber. Often, you will only want to reduce sound that's at a particular frequency. Tuned resonant absorbers are excellent for absorbing sound at a low frequency (100 Hz or under).

Perforated metal supplies an easy solution for sound absorption and other acoustical issues.

With these, the perforated metal takes an active part in determining which frequencies need cutting out. It is used in conjunction with a trapped layer of air to concentrate the sound absorption of the acoustical material onto whichever frequency range the sound that needs cutting out falls in. 

The air particles will begin moving in and out of the perforated metal's holes violently at whatever frequency the tuned resonant absorber is set at. These air particles are then pumped back and forth with the adjacent acoustical layer. At this point, the acoustic energy will transfer into heat due to the friction created, and so will no longer be heard as sound.

As you can see, perforated metal supplies an easy solution for sound absorption and other acoustical solutions. Our products come in a range of materials, including stainless steel, aluminium, mild steel, corten,titanium, copper, brass, alloys and polypropylene. For more information, please contact us

Think about how windows affect the look and feel of your home.

How can you make smart architectural choices when adding windows to a house?

One of the most critical choices you make when planning the architecture of a new house is how to configure windows. This decision will have a great deal of influence over many aspects of the home – how difficult (and expensive) it is to build, how elegant it will look when completed and to what degree it will let in heat and light. There's a lot to consider.

Think about how architectural products will have an impact on the windows of your house.

It's also important to think about how the architectural products you choose will have an impact on the windows of the house you're building. For example, if you use stainless steel rather than aluminum to build the windows' framework, what effect will that have? These small design choices can make a bigger difference than you think.

Reconsidering your windows' architecture

Windows can have a surprising amount of impact on how livable a home or office building becomes, especially when you consider the sort of architectural products you use to build them. For instance, according to Architecture AU, there's been a recent trend of builders using more stainless steel for finishing windows.

This has had a noticeable effect. The steel has given the windows a strong, bold profile that makes them appear more sleek and seamless. The effect isn't just aesthetic, either – windows adorned with sturdy material like steel make it easier for the building to be resistant to the elements and block out high-speed winds.

Optimising for heat and air flow

How much hot and cold air flows into a building is always important. This is a major factor determining the indoor temperature and air quality in the building, which in turn will dictate how much heating and/or air conditioning is needed. In effect, airflow is a major cost centre.

Windows can control the flow of light into a building.Windows can control the flow of light into a building.

Rappler noted that the structure of your windows will largely dictate airflow. If you have the right screening media to keep heat and wind under control, it will be easier to keep your costs to a minimum. There's a cost-benefit analysis to be performed during the building process. How much should you spend on superior building materials?

Considering Locker Group's line of products

If you decide to go all out and build good, sturdy windows that will keep your building fully protected, we have the right building materials at Locker Group to help make that happen. For example, our line of expanded metal products is great for protecting buildings from the harsh glare of the sun.

Whatever specific architectural challenges you're facing, we are confident that we have the right materials – as well as the expertise – to handle them. Contact us today, and we can discuss all your building needs.

Designing flooring plans can be a major logistical challenge.

Good, solid flooring is at the foundation of any safe work facility

Every business owner wants the same thing from their company's facilities – a good, safe place where their employees can work productively and not have to worry about anything going wrong. If there are any defects in your company's work site, it can be a major source of stress and anxiety. No one wants to worry about their people being unsafe.

Every business owner wants the same thing from their facilities – a safe place where their employees can work productively.

Any safety effort should begin with having sturdy flooring for employees to walk on. Your floors are at the foundation of your work site, and you want workers to be able to walk from place to place, throughout your facility, with confidence.

What goes into creating good flooring?

Creating strong industrial flooring requires careful collaboration between a facility's architects and the builders carrying out the construction project. According to the Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia, the flooring process should begin with an architect choosing the appropriate load and deflection criteria for the facility in question. How much weight and stress will the facility's floors need to support?

The best flooring plans are flexible, meaning it's easy to modify the design of a facility later on, should the business' needs change and additional capacity be required.

Overcoming key challenges in architecture

What does it take to overcome challenges in designing industrial flooring? What happens if a building is a particularly tricky size or shape to floor optimally, or if it's difficult for a business' owners to agree to terms with architects and builders on a strategy?

Overcoming building challenges requires solid teamwork.Overcoming building challenges requires solid teamwork.

The Industry Skills Councils emphasises that good teamwork is essential for tackling difficult flooring projects. If architects and builders are able to share information well and collaborate on making key decisions about the process, everyone's job will be easier – even difficult problem-solving exercises can be simplified dramatically.

Of course, it also helps if you begin by using the best possible architectural products.

We can lend a hand at Locker Group

You want your business to have nothing less than the best when it comes to flooring that prioritises safety and resiliency. Whether you're working on a rural flooring project or building a massive facility for a large corporation, you want a structure with integrity.

At Locker Group, we can help make that happen. We offer flooring solutions that are highly reliable, yet affordable and low-maintenance. Contact us to learn more about how we can enhance your company's facilities.

How can Australia uncover a greater diversity of houses?

What can be done to improve the diversity of housing in Australia?

The population of Australia is constantly increasing. According to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were 24.2 million people in the country as of September 2016, which was about 350,000 more than one year earlier. As a rule, Australia's population has been steadily rising at a rate of about 1.5 per cent per year. And there's no hiding from the truth – all those people are going to need places to live.

Not everyone is rich and can afford a mansion; not everyone is poor and wants to live in a small place.

To be more specific, they need a diversity of places. Not everyone is rich and can afford a mansion; not everyone is poor and wants to live in a small, cramped place in a bad neighbourhood. Most people, in fact, are somewhere in the middle. This being the case, it's important that the nation's architects work to deliver housing solutions for a wide range of different people with varying tastes, preferences and price ranges in mind.

Making creative architecture choices will absolutely play a role in this effort.

Australia's current lack of housing diversity

With the population increasing so quickly, the architectural sector is working to crank out livable housing as quickly as possible to accommodate everyone. Given the rise of new building strategies like industrial flooring, it's now easier than ever to mass-produce houses and get them ready quickly. But according to recent findings in the Parliament of Australia, too many houses are all the same.

There's a simple formula that's being followed – a large house, four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a roomy three-car garage – the "McMansion" approach, as it's known. Professor Terry Burke, from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, argued before Parliament that these domiciles won't be the right fit for enough of the population for the current building model to be sustainable.

"Historically, I do not think we have really built suburbs as lacking in diversity as those we are building at the moment," Mr Burke said.

This is especially a problem in affluent suburbs of major Australian cities – consider western Sydney, for example. In areas like this, there's a lot of building, but not enough diversity among the housing projects currently being undertaken.

What can be done about the problem?

So how can this issue be fixed? What will move us toward a future in which families have a range of different housing options available? According to Architecture AU, a lot of it comes down to better planning early in the building process. Ken Maher, president of the Australian Institute of Architects, told the news outlet that real estate developers need to examine demographics carefully as they shape their business strategies.

Australian architects can either build new homes or retrofit new ones.Australian architects can either build new homes or retrofit new ones.

The housing options available in Australia's cities and suburbs can be modified in one of two ways – either by building different homes in the first place, or by changing existing residences by using inventive retrofitting strategies. In either event, it's worthwhile to think about the different kinds of architectural products available for these projects and how they might impact the eventual finished products.

Looking carefully at the products used in building

When the time comes to build a new house or modify an existing one, the component pieces used can make all the difference. At Locker Group, we have a wide range of offerings that can play a part in the process. Take curtains, for example. Our wire mesh curtains make an ideal way to add texture or character to a room – for nice, upscale homes, they might be a worthy addition, but they're also completely optional.

Our vast catalog of construction products makes it easy for builders to customise their projects to whatever specifications they have in mind. Whether you're constructing a mansion for an upper-class family or a more modest home, we have the building blocks that will be right for you.

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