Mt Whaleback in Western Australia, located about 600 miles northeast of Perth, is no secret since it’s the site of the world’s largest iron mine, so how come it’s blacked out on Google Earth? It’s also no secret that Google Earth often blacks out military bases and other strategic sites around the world where satellite views may provide terrorists or hostile governments with useful information. Not that we know very much about how Google makes decisions on what to black out, yet assume it’s after governments contact them and make their case. But, really now, an iron mine? Could it be that the mine’s owner, BHP Billilton wants to conceal something? Like just how large the mine is? Hardly, since those details are readily found on the Internet, such at this site
Perhaps a clue comes from using the historical image slider in Google Earth to back up in time to see the mine’s evolution since 2005. Down below in this image from that year, the iron mine is just a small open pit on the southeastern flank of the 1500 foot high mountain.
Back to the topic of what Google Earth blacks out for a moment,. First of all, “blacked out” (as Mt Whaleback is) is not quite the right term since there are several other ways Google Earth disguises whatever it is they want to hide. An airport, for example, might be whited out so that details of runways and tarmac blend together.Or, an area can be simply blurred to the point of making details visually inaccessible. Then there’s this camouflaging of the photo to obscure who-knows-what in southwestern Netherlands
Finally, no surprise there’s all sorts of websites that discuss hidden Google Earth areas, as well as a plethora of conspiracy theories as to why a given area might be hidden, so make sure you check the comments section of these websites. Here’s a place to start.