The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]
Westport Coal Company, Ltd
Westport Coal Company, Ltd. Directors (Dunedin): Sir H. J. Miller, M.L.C. (chairman), Messrs G. L. Denniston, Robert Hay, C.E., J. R. Sinclair, P. C. Neill, and K. Ramsay. Melbourne Local Board: Hon. J. Balfour, M.L.C., and Mr. Edward Baines. General Manager, Mr. George Joachim. Head office: 17 Vogel Street, Dune-din. Bankers: Bank of New Zealand. Private residence of general manager, Mornington. This prominent company, which is by far the largest producer of coal in New Zealand, was formed in 1881 to acquire the mines then owned and worked by the Westport Colliery Company, Ltd. Of its capital—£400,000—the whole is issued, £348,675 being on the Dunedin register, and £51,325 on the Melbourne register. On the incorporation of the company, the property comprised 5,430 acres of the Buller coal country, under two leases held for ninety-nine years from the Government and known as the Coalbrook-dale and Granity Creek leases. Unlike most collieries where expensive sinking, pumping, and haulage are necessary, the company's works are on a steep hill, the top of which—where the coal outcrops—is 1,800 feet above sea-level. Already more than 2,000,000 tons of splendid coal have been produced, and its quality is considered by the most competent authorities to be superior to any other known kind. H.M.S. “Calliope,” for example, which successfully steamed out of the harbour of Apia during a hurricane in 1889, where several German and American war-ships were lost, used coal from this well-known mine. The output for 1883 was 34,997 tons, and a steady increase has been maintained up to the present time, the total for 1903 reaching 563,000 tons. The coal is conveyed from the mines by inclines and railway trucks to the ship's side at the mouth of the Buller river. The company has expended large sums of money in opening up the property, and in providing trams and railways, rolling-stock, and plant, to bring its products to market; and the shareholders have reaped dividends varying from two and a half to ten per cent. It is estimated that over 50,000,000 tons of first-class marketable coal is yet to be won from these mines. More than 1000 persons are engaged, and, as the works are more fully opened up, the number of employees will be largely increased. The Union Steam Ship Company buys largely from the Westport Coal Company, and provides moans of transportation from Westport to the various colonial and intercolonial ports. Depôts are maintained in New Zealand at Christchurch, Dunedin, Nelson, Napier, Timaru, Oamaru, Wanganui, Westport, Wellington, Auckland, and Invercargill.