Alfred Deakin Research Institute

Iron Ore Fists

Fri, 28 Mar 2014 10:47:00 +1100

Join us for a new seminar: Iron Ore and Australia’s Relations with Asia, 1960-1976, presented by Dr David LeeDirector of the Historical Publications and Research Unit at DFAT and ADRI Adjunct Professor.

The seminar will be broadcast at multiple locations across the Deakin University campuses.

In 1938 the Lyons Government imposed an embargo on the export of Australian iron ore. The motivation was strategic - to forestall Japanese interest in the development of known deposits of iron ore at Yampi Sound in north-west Western Australia. A contemporaneous geological assessment of Australia's iron ore resources concluded that they were so scarce that they needed to be conserved for the local Australian steel industry. The strategic motivation for the embargo disappeared in 1945 but the embargo endured for a further fifteen years.

Finally, in 1960, pressure on the Australian balance of payments prompted the Menzies Government to relax the iron ore embargo to encourage exploration that might improve Australia's overseas income. The relaxation yielded stupendous results: the discovery of immense reserves and the establishment within fifteen years of an iron ore export industry in Western Australia’s remote Pilbara which by 1976 had become the major supplier of the Japanese steel industry.

This paper will examine the emergence of the new iron ore industry in Western Australia in the context of Australia's relationship with Japan.

Time: 1-2pm
Date: Monday 7 April, 2014
Location: ic1.108 at Waurn Ponds
N3.11 at Burwood
ad3.310 at the Waterfront

Find out more about Dr Lee's work at ADRI

Return to the Alfred Deakin Research Institute website


Image of iron ore mine
The iron ore industry of Australia: a 'rocky ride' through history.
Showcase facts
  • 'The Menzies government relaxation of the iron ore embargo yielded stupendous results'
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19th July 2012