Mary Kathleen Uranium Mine

Thursday morning two weeks ago I did a detour to the open pit of the abandoned Mary Kathleen uranium mine. Unfortunately the creek crossings were heavily washed out of the bypass road. So I tried my luck at the creek crossings inside the former community. Luckily I passed, and could drive to the end of the sealed road, even with a lot of potholes. Hence, I just needed to walk the last two kilometres to the open pit, which is now partly filled with rain water. The water is pretty blue and clear, but probably contaminated, as nothing could survive in it, neither algaes, plants or fish. The mine operated by Rio Tinto two times. During the first operation from 1958 to 1963 more than 4,000 tonnes of uranium oxide were mined and exported via Townsville to the UK nuclear agency. During that period of time about 1,100 people in families and additional 200 single men lived in the closed community, and 200 babies were born…probably they had a bad TV reception over there. Anyway, during the second period from 1975 to 1982 in total more than 4,800 tonnes of uranium oxide in the form of “yellow cake” was mined and exported to Japan, United States…and surprise, surprise Germany. So, now you know where we got all this shit from. In 1980 the stevedores in Darwin and Townsville were on strike, and as Rio Tinto still wanted to make money, they took 30 containers of yellowcake to Karumba in the night and got 26 exported on a ship and the remaining four returned to the mine site. On my way out I briefly stopped at the town square and had a walk around the foundations, as this is all what remained from the former closed community. All the houses were auctioned off and relocated to either Mount Isa or Cloncurry. As the detour to the open pit took longer than expected, I just went back to Cloncurry in the afternoon and got some supplies. In the late afternoon I finally went out of town and followed the Matilda further on to McKinlay.

Making a detour into the west
The first creek crossing doesn’t look to good, but actually I was even able to get on and off that bridge safely with precise driving, but I gave up at the second creek crossing with my low-level vehicle.
At the base of the mountain, you can still see the remainings of the former buildings. That was the start of the hike.
Finally I got to the open pit mine…
…and had a great view down to the lake…
…and the water looks clear, but it’s probably too clear to be safe. And there’re even concerns that the grazing cattle on that property could be affected by the radionuclides, which get blown out of the open pit.
That’s the town square…or well, all that remains from it. So don’t be fooled by your map…it’s all historical, and no longer existing.
An Aboriginal memorial at the highway
South of Cloncurry the landscape went pretty flat again, and the mountains getting further away
A lonely minon at the highway 🤣
GPX track

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