Leinster is located 374km north up the Goldfields Highway from Kalgoorlie. It is a town purpose-built to house and provide services for the workers on nearby mine sites, and some of their families.
Apart from mining, the land surrounding Leinster has also long been used for grazing sheep on large stations.
Like every WA town, Leinster has/had its corny town slogan or two, either the “Home of the Wedge Tailed Eagle” or “The Jewel of the Northern Goldfields”.
The area where Leinster exists now was first mined on a large scale back in 1897 when the East Murchison United Company (EMU) began working on alluvial gold deposits near where the Agnew gold mine is today.
During the 1970’s there was a speculative boom in nickel prices and exploration throughout Western Australia’s Eastern Gold Fields followed.
The actual town of Leinster began in 1976 when the Nickel Mine of Agnew Gold Mining Company was granted a special 21 year lease to create a town in support of the Agnew nickel mine. The town was named after the nearby Leinster Downs Station, which itself was probably named after Leinster province in Ireland.
In 1989 the company Western Mining took over operations of the mine, recommissioning it and renaming it “Leinster Nickel Operation”. The company also took over the management of the town of Leinster. Most recently the Leinster Nickel Project and the Leinster townsite have been owned and run by the mining company BHP Billeton.
Between 2002 and 2007 gold was also mined at Leinster. But the main mineral mined around Leinster over the past 40 years was nickel. One-third of the world’s known nickel ore reserves are located in Australia, predominantly Western Australia, and most of the mines are located around Kambalda, Leinster and Laverton.
Around the early-mid 2010’s the townsite consisted of 283 houses and around 800 single persons quarters, plus various shops and services. The number of permanent residents was around 700 and there are an additional 700 or so workers who fly in – fly out.
On the 31st October 2013 there was a collapse in Leinster’s Perseverance Mine following an earth tremor, trapping nine mine workers for nine hours. Luckily none were injured. The mine was deemed unsafe and closed down, resulting in the loss of about 200 jobs.
In recent times (April 2015) the mining boom is on the decline, and nickel mining has become less profitable. WA nickel mines are closing down, and Leinster is closing down too. Time will tell what happens next.