Hard Times Mine

Useful Information

Location: Mount Isa
Open: All year daily 8:30-17. Mine tours at 10, 14. Additional tours scheduled during the peak tourist season. Bookings essential May to October. [2005]
Fee: Adults AUD 45, Concessions AUD 38, Children (9-18) AUD 26, Family (2+2) $119.60. [2005]
Classification: MineCopper mine, MineSilver mine, MineLead mine, MineZinc mine.
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: D=2,5h
Address: Outback at Isa, 19 Marian Street, Mount Isa, Qld 4825, Tel: +61-1300-659-660, Fax: +61-7-4743-6296. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


The Mount Isa Mines (MIM) fetch numerous metals from the rich ore body of the area. This ore was the reason the town was founded after it was discovered in 1929.

The ore mineralisation is stratiform, occurring in the 1,600 Ma Lower Proterozoic Urquhart Shale sequence. At Mount Isa the Urquhart Shale is 1,000 m thick and dips at 65°, the orebodies lie within the upper 650 m. Boundaries of the ore are the Mount Isa fault on the west and by volcanic greenstones to the east.

The lead-zinc-silver ore comprises galena and sphalerite with pyrite and pyrrhotite. The orebodies are concordant with carbonaceous dolomitic sediments, interfingering with the silica-dolomitic mass hosting copper. There are over 20 ore zones which are mineable, each up to 1,400 m long, 800m deep and between 4 m and 48 m wide.


The Hard Times Mine is a sort of artficial mine, which sounds strange as mines are always artifical. We try to make clear, that this never was a operational mine. Former Mount Isa Mines Underground tours was one of Mount Isa's big tourist attractions. It was operated by the mining company Mount Isa Mine (MIM). When they closed, several locals, led by Mount Isa's Mayor, Ron McCulloch, invented this to replace it. They built this tourist mine for about 5 Million AUD.

The Hard Times Mine gives visitors a real mine experience by kitting them out in overalls, boots, helmet with headlamp and earmuffs. The group descends in the Alamac cage, the mine elevator, to the floor of the mine. Here large mine equipment can be seen at work with an opportunity to work a mine drill yourself. The mine has been constructed using the regional mining techniques. The tours are guided by past and present Mount Isa Mine miners.

Additional offers are mine tours with breakfast, lunch or dinner included. After a full underground tour the visitors enjoy a meal in the crib room just as the miners do. Dinner Under Isa has become very popular. This tour starts at 17:00 and finishes at approx 20:30, including a three course dinner. The visitors are entertained with the stories of the miners whilst eating.