Asbestos at Wittenoom

Wittenoom is situated adjacent to Karijini (formerly Hamersley Range) National Park in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. A site of stunning physical beauty, it is now notorious as a place which produced suffering, disease and death associated with the mining and milling of blue asbestos (crocidolite).

The industry began in a very small way with a prospectors’ rush to the gorges to knap and bag asbestos fibre in the late 1930s. The high price of asbestos fibre offered hopes of better fortune to the vast numbers of unemployed men trying to make a living during the years of the Great Depression.

Lang Hancock from the adjacent pastoral station, Mulga Downs, established a tiny mining and milling operation in Wittenoom Gorge, selling it in 1943 to Colonial Sugar Refining Company (CSR), a corporation with no experience in mining.

Click on the sections on the left to read more about the history of asbestos at Wittenoom: