Woodsreef Asbestos Mine – Woodsreef, Australia - Atlas Obscura

Woodsreef Asbestos Mine

Woodsreef, Australia

Asbestos pit mine abandoned in 1983 is still dangerous thirty years later. 


Asbestos is a naturally forming silicate crystal with some wonderful properties. It is strong, cheap, and resistant to fire, chemical, and electrical damage. Of course, it does have the side effect of giving people mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. Ultimately, a poor trade-off. 

From 1919 to 1970 the Woodsreef mine, near Barraba, New South Wales, was a small-scale asbestos mining facility. That changed in 1970 when the Chrysotile Corporation of Australia grew the Woodsreef mine into a large-scale operation which ran from 1970 to 1983 and mined 100 million tonnes of asbestos-rich rock.

The mine was closed and abandoned in 1983 leaving a 117-acre contaminated site. Additionally, a dump site containing a 70-meter-tall pile of 25 million tonnes of contaminated waste rock also remains. It is the only asbestos mine site in New South Wales that has not been remediated. 

Despite this, a road, Crow road, still cuts through the middle of the mine as does a “flora trail.” There has been a campaign recently to have the road closed, and air monitoring was begun in April 2013.

While visiting the mine is currently legal, it may have serious health implications, so proper precautions should be taken. 

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April 14, 2013

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