League for the Promotion and Development of Gold Mining.
(Leaflet No. 3)
Paper Read by J. Bevan, Esq., J P., ex-M.H.R, at the Town Hall, Hokitika, Aug. 27, 1895
From the "West Coast.Times."
As the name of our Association implies, we are united together for the purpose of dealing with an all important industiy, which should claim more than ordinary attention owing to its being one of the greatest factors in promoting the welfare of any country and extending is beneficent influences to mankind. The history of only a few years points unmis takeably to its great worth and marvellous [unclear: Raising] powers. We have only to contemplate the mighty growth of these favoured lands, raise] on the solid and permanent foundation of mining, giving life, strength and wealth, and all that conduces to material prosperity, in support and proof of this contention Large centres of population, noble cities, vast areas of land snatched front the wilderness, ever increasing industries, trade and commerce stimulated, and, in fact a new world opened up for the advancement of the masses, in its enlightened, progressive and specific development.
The subject in this direction might be enlarged upon and illustrated by [unclear: Bifold] and material facts. It matters not whether we refer to the early days of California, New south Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia or the more recent developments in South Africa and Western Australia, we are forced to admit the vast civilizing influences that arise from these mining sources forming, as they do, the basis of world wide prosperity, and establishing a bright era in the future of any country, so favoured by nature.
Take Johannesburg for Example.
Only a few short years ago the lion [unclear: named] at large where now, at least, 100,000 people are engaged in the busy pursuits of life, and where the [unclear: lusy] of the unemployed is unheard—all [unclear: he] to the magic influence of mining. So with Tasmania and its many noble [unclear: nines]—so with New Zealand in a lesser degree, but still with the same [unclear: all] powerful influence for good. And let us not overlook the recent phenomenal development of Western Australla, with its hitherto desert wastes and vast unexplored territory, with thousands and tens of thousands of people, drawn from all parts of the world, now settling on its shores.
It is with this magnificent and wealth producing industry that we, as a league, have been called into existence, in order, if possible, to promote and encourage its development The questions naturally arise, how can this be best accomplished? How is it possible to accelerate so desirable an object? And what new departure can be suggested in support thereof? It must be admitted that the proposals are confrented with [unclear: direcuilty,] but not of an insurmountable character.
The History of Mining
In its many branches is one entirely of chance. The chance circumstances that are familiar as household words to those acquainted with the romance of goldfield's life, and which exist to the present day. All is left to chance, whether it be in the development of gold, silver, tin, or other kindred products. Chance forms the basis of every hope and aim in these matters, and seems ever likely to continue to do so, unless a revolution of ideas obtain, and intelligent and comprehensive reforms are established in promoting the future welfare of these great industries.
Strange, though true, that whilst the whole scientific world is concentrating its ideas on improved mechanisms, new solvents, and modes of economic extraction of the precious metals, the vital and all important questions relating to the great and natural sources of the worlds wealth, comparatively speaking, remain at a stand still, a terra incognito, a mere theoretical problem, and the debating platform tor elementary philosophers to advance their learned disquisitions upon.
Whose leading principles and divining powers are as dreary, mystifying, and disheartening as the crude, but certainly emphatic declaration contained in the old and well understood mining axiom of "where she be, there she be." Indeed, it is a reproach to this advancing age that science should be almost groping in the dark on the subject, especially when, its importance is to a certain extent recognised by the State through its costly departments, manned with expert power of formidable character and high sounding appendages, but, probably, lacking the all important essential of practical demonstration in nature's great laboratory.
Now, let us see if a remedy can be suggested in New Zealand, and especially on the West Coast, to which portion of the Colony I desire particularly to direct attention, owing to our better Knowledge of it, and to the unusual conditions and difficulties with which miners are confronted. Who, I ask, would be bold enough to assert that prospecting in our dense forests, on our moss covered mountains, in the luxuriant entanglement of nature, is not of a most arduous and difficult character, unprecedented in the history of gold discoveries in the Australasian group? The chances of the individual miner are remote indeed when such formidable drawbacks to prospecting exist, apart from its costliness. Hence on external aid must the prospector rely if ever our mining interests are to be lifted out of their present almost dormant condition. Now, in contemplating this external aid, very little importance need attach to the subsidies as at present doled out by the State, and that derived from private sources, for it is only an unsound policy of frittering away monies on chance circumstances surrounding old goldfields centres. What is required is that a bolder policy should be initiated by the State, of a practical and permanent character, and such as relates to the peculiar conditions of any particular locality.
Take This West Coast
For instance. From Cape Farewell to the confines of Otago, and what page 2 great lesson presents itself? Why, that there is a stretch of mineral country, hundreds of miles in extent with indications of immense wealth, extending from the sea coast to the dividing ranges; nearly every river and its tributaries bearing evidence of the fact, apart from the gold deposits existing on the ocean beaches held in the black sand in a finely divided state, and always suggestive of the great main sources from whence it is derived. Hence to these main sources of wealth must attention be directed.
The permanency, of mining on the West Coast, for the future, must depend upon a vigorous, comprehensive, and intelligent development of its reefs, for, with the exception of Reefton, they are absolutely and practically unexplored. Not on account of the want of knowledge that they do not exists for there are State records of many valuable discoveries having been made of a promising and important character. These are lying undeveloped, and are likely to remain so to the 'crack of doom' unless some chance circumstance arises (mark—chance circumstance) to facilitate the operation—such for instance, as that which has recently occurred in this district, and at Reefton, by the advent of a wealthy stranger from a far distant land, who recognises the splendid possibilities of our neglected gold-fields, by the introduction of capital for the development of the resources of the country on an intelligent and modern basis, and entirely free from the invariable 'wet blanket' influence of a
Of mere elementary professions, devoid of any practical illustration of the first principles of comprehensive mining, as demanded by the experiences and requirements of the present day and which is merely imbued with its own importance as a self assertive atom in the smallest world of scientific knowledge, but nevertheless to be regarded as an adjunct (ornamental or otherwise) of State importance.
It is of paramount interest that this game of chance should no longer exist, and that the people should demand from the State a more favorable recognition of its responsibilities to the mining industries of the Colony by at once adopting a vigorous policy of reform, and by such reforms build up a permanent and valuable reputation, unassailable by the doubts and suspicions that generally underly mining undertakings at the present day, Since commencing this paper I have had the opportunity of reading in "The Australian Mining Standard "of August 3rd most important and forcible opinions, in a paper read by Mr Nicol Brown, F. G. S. before the Geologists' Association, London, bearing generally on the chance subject of mining, and the remedy that must be applied in future. The lecturer refers to the remarkable far seeing forecasts of the late Mr Jevous when delivering a lecture in Glasgow, in 1859 entitled the
Profit and Loss of Goldmining.
Mr Jevons foreshadowed the time when greater experience is attained in quartz mining; when improved machinery is brought into use for the rapid, complete, and cheap extraction of gold; when capital is attracted in great sums to the pursuit and when the search for new auriferous reefs becoming more keen is rewarded by abundant discoveries. He finally drew two conclusions:—"(1) That no great and recurring discoveries of alluvial gold are to be expected, so that the yield of alluvial gold must notably, yet gradually fall off. (2) That the supply of gold from its quartz matrix is subject to entirely different laws, that we at present know no limit to the amount procurable with the aid of capital; and that that amount, whatever it may be, will probably remain constant for a long period of time."
These remarks, written 36 years ago, have almost a prophetic significance, as viewed from our own personal observations and every day experience. Mr Nicol Brown, commenting on the subject, remarks—"At the present time the supply of gold can be drawn, not only from the quartz reefs referred to by Mr Jevons, but from sedimentary rocks, those from which the largest supplies are at present drawn being the Witwatersrand conglomerate. It has, however, taken many years to realise Mr Jevons' forecasts, as the gold industry appears to have been one of the slowest to adopt true scientific methods of working, the neglect of which is so detrimental to any practical undertaking."
Proceeding, he remarks. "That geology in competent hands is the first science for goldmining, and no sure foundation is laid for other sciences to base their work unless the preliminary work of the geologist be well done-Whether a man goes to seek fossil shells or golden sands, the same qualities are required for success, the same intimate knowledge of nature and nature's laws, without which her thrilling secrets cannot be discovered, From the want of this knowledge, the ordinary uninstructed gold seekar always defeats the end he has in view. He works hastily, and by imperfect methods, and never stops to mark the finger posts or compass points, which might guide him to the object of his search. The finding of gold must no longer be left to chance, but should be the result of well designed and well organised efforts, and the basis of that industry, which is now being built up rests on geological surveys made by qualified men. These are now demanded and must be obtained."
Pseudo geologists have been often employed to survey and report on properties. Incapable persons also have been entrusted with the industrial part of the work of mining, milling, and saving the gold. All this blundering result heavy loss. Proper geological survey only of the gold bearing veins, but at enclosing rocks, must now take the of the old prospectors' empirical who order that miners may proceed in gently with their operations, unfortunately many good mines have been demaned by incompetent men."
After referring to and enlarging [unclear: up] the various aspects and conditions [unclear: o] ducive to successful mining, and various valuable geological reports Australia, Montana, and [unclear: Mashonal] Mr Brown odds, "That it will be [unclear: a] from these various reports, how [unclear: vari,] nature had worked in each case, how [unclear: c] fully and cunningly she has hidden her golden treasures in the folds of [unclear: her] ment, and how these treasures can [unclear: c] be found out by a painstaking [unclear: study] the geology or physical structure [unclear: of] the earth. Such raports, had they [unclear: exi] only only a few years ago, would [unclear: be] saved enormous waste of time, [unclear: labor,] lives." He also refers to many [unclear: valu] authorities published on the subject modern mining, and concludes his [unclear: a] portant and valuable paper in [unclear: the] lowing expressive language. "To [unclear: u] tinue the necessary supply of gold [unclear: a] carry on the ever extending [unclear: common] the world, a vast industry of [unclear: the] importance, aided by many [unclear: sci] needed to gather out the infinitely [unclear: e] portions of gold as they exist in [unclear: a] The product in gold of the [unclear: industry] has recently sprung up will afford to the straitened currency of the [unclear: w] and as it can now be procured with [unclear: a] industrial and scientific certainly [unclear: p] dicted by the late Mr Jevons, the [unclear: r] to the world in the near futures will [unclear: be] great." He further remarks" The [unclear: a] vernor and directors of the [unclear: Bank] land may hold the key of the Bank's [unclear: g] but the geologists hold the golden [unclear: n] of knowledge to the earth's store [unclear: h] of the kingly metal, and although [unclear: it] not be counted up like gold in [unclear: the] they, and they "only, can be relied [unclear: on] survey the new goldfields which [unclear: may] be found. If this be done, [unclear: a] potent survivals of mediæval [unclear: o] superstitions, ever ready to [unclear: delu] and again, a too gullible public [unclear: will] finitely die put. Industry [unclear: must] off against industry, [unclear: cur futura] by well directed industry, will [unclear: re] the result of honest men's toil, [unclear: Gold] tained will reach a steady [unclear: vdik] neither become greatly 'appreciated' 'depreciated' as the supply [unclear: wilier] keep pace with the requirements [unclear: im] merce. It will help to keep the [unclear: c] less mills of many different [unclear: indi] continuous motion, without [unclear: inferna] periods of fluctuating trade, [unclear: and] bring benefits to many people in all of the earth."
I have purposely introduced [unclear: these] tracts to illustrate the full force [unclear: and] viction of trained minds on the, [unclear: b] interesting and absorbing topic, [unclear: and] your indulgence for the digression. [unclear: A] referring to a few of
Before alluded to—for instance the [unclear: eryat] at Laugdon's in the Grey dis[unclear: tub] twenty years ago, with its phe[unclear: nal] returns of gold. The su[unclear: n] at the Taipo, rich in the pre[unclear: s] mulal metal The coal deposits at [unclear: tle] Annie' and 'Camel Back.' The [unclear: rich] rich and promising reefs at 'Cedar [unclear: k] The auriferous and argentiferous [unclear: at] Rangitoto.' The argentiferous [unclear: as] found in the Totara and in the labourhood of Mount Bonar. The [unclear: Mid] coal, and rich carbonates of [unclear: paper] found at the Haast, and many [unclear: per] of tin, nickel etc, all ob[unclear: ed] lisias of great value and importance but, unhappily, as far off develop[unclear: ments] as ever but not on account of the [unclear: ut] of enterprise on the part of private [unclear: duals] in dealing with seme of these [unclear: eries] but from sheer want of capital and undoubted skill so requisite the success of such undertakings, the answer.
The Mines Department
[unclear: lter] under, are—" Why not get Capi[unclear: tal] "From public companies," and [unclear: edite] the work of development." [unclear: Aye!] There's the rub, and that is where [unclear: ennia] game of chance "most be played [unclear: in] Get capital, yes—enlist the [unclear: entines] of the great army of stock [unclear: ers], lay down nuggets of gold at their [unclear: her] offer "Mount Morgans," Broken hills" "Mount Bischoffs," "Mount [unclear: lyells] [unclear: Londonderrys] "Bayley Re[unclear: bin] and the hundred and one Sensa[unclear: ns] of flotation and then of course the [unclear: saa] is easy, especially if the "little [unclear: ker] scoops the pool. On the other set forth modest proposals, where a big golden blows exist, no pheno[unclear: il] sensations, and then you meet the [unclear: oil] suspicious, company monger, who wants to know the minutest par[unclear: ticulars], more especially at your expense, wants references and guarantees of a few thousands are they can put their precious names before the public, and then [unclear: only] for preliminary outlay. Must have [unclear: expert] reports, must in reality see at least [unclear: 300] percent ahead. And, perhaps as an with precaution, must communicate with to powers that be, who invariably know nothing at all about it, but are ever ready shake their sagacious heads, and, in the [unclear: mtherly] interest they take in the application, deliver themselves of a [unclear: earbd] cautious, non-committal opinion, [unclear: ted to] to destroy rather than to assist be enterprise. Thus damning with faint [unclear: faun] or no praise at all, the very "game chance" they bid you undertake. History, present and past, is not silent on his aspect of affairs, and experience points exclusively to these facts.
A wide-spread opinion is daily gaining force amongst those acquainted with the [unclear: exigencies] of modern mining that it is the [unclear: uimt] duty of the State to intervene all doubts, and prove or disprove the value of these [unclear: oft] recurring discoveries thereby putting to practical use the Mines Department for the purpose, and demonstrating to the taxpayer the utility or otherwise of its existence. As an [unclear: illustration] take any of the discoveries referred to, where good surface indications exist. Let 10.0 acres, or more if necessary, be temporarily reserved, a mining camp established with all modern appliances diamond drills, etc. In fact make sample provision for the department to carry out every detail necessary for opening up a payable mine and prove the country by every seientific and practical means, whether it be in deep sinking, driving of adits, or other effectual methods of demonstrating the value of the country to the miner. Should the result justify expectations, let suitable areas be mapped off and thrown open for selection, charging moderate rentals, and, say, a royalty of one per cent on all similar country opened up by these means. The Government to work mines, thus acquired, as State mines, and thereby build up a "National Mining Fund" for the expansion and encouragement of the industry in future.
Were such a course intelligently pursued throughout New Zealand, it would soon emerge from depression, and become one of the most attractive and favoured countries in the Australasian group. In a few years such an accumulation of wealth would result as to settle for ever the cry of the unemployed, the necessity for relief works, and, probably, be the means of lessening the burden of taxation.
No doubt, such a radical proposition for the reform of our Mines Department will meet with determined opposition, but all reforms do, as a rule, until they are properly digested, enforced by public opinion, and common sence brought to bear upon them. The idea of the State embacking in mining enterprise may probably be regarded with holy horror. But has not the country as much right to posses State mines as State water-races, State farms, State railways, State life insurance. State sanatoriums, State money lending bareaux, State schools and extensive estates acquired at enormous cost to to the country? with additional prosoects of State saw mills, and State fire insurance, at no distant period? The unbiassed answer to such a query can only be in the affirnative, for one and all of these undertakings were but experimental at their inception, and it certainly may be conceded, even by the most prejudiced mind, that mining offers greater attractions and prospects of more substantial reward. The experiment never having been tried is no reason why it should not be, for by the judicioas expenditure of a few thousands, a rich harvest of hundreds of thousands may be the result, whilst it would be a poor compliment indeed to pay our staff of experts in anticipating that their labors should end in nothing but failure. The acquisition of one or two good paying mines would soon revolutionise the sentimental idea that it is no part of the duty of the State to embark in such undertakings The apathy and indifference of the State to this noble industry, and the great advantages derived therefrom in opening up and setting the country, is as unpardonable as that large estates should lie unimproved in the hands of private individuals.
The mines department in its present usefulness can only be regarded as
A scientific play grounds, so to speak, and the receptacle of dusty, musty, records of no material value beyond the annual flourish of trumpets that aunounces its existance. What the country wants is an active and not a passive department. It has had tons of theory during the last quarter of a century, and the result is a costly and melancholy blank. After such a dreary experience, common sense demands something more tangible, something worthy of the name, a vital principle, a reality that will accelerate the wheels of progress, and establish the industry on a sound, solid, and permanent basis.
It seems such an anomaly that the mining experts of the Colony should be located in Wellington, whereas they might be actively engaged on goldfield centres. If there is anything at all in expert and scientific knowledge why not employ it where its utility can be put to the test and its cost justified.
One very extraordinary circumstance in connection with mining in this colony is that the State neglects investigation, except of the must superficial character, into great mining possibilities. This was boast forms one of the most interesting and extensive fields of research, for it is rich in the possession of untold wealth, as evinced from its discoveries, and its steady output of gold. It is figuratively and in some places quite an unexplored portion of New Zealand, capable of vast expansion, capable of absorbing an enormous population, and, with its salubrious climatic advantages, worthy the attention of any enlightened policy of progress, of which we make so proud a boast in these days of radical reforms. A great deal more might be written on the possibilities of the future of the West Coast, and the special features of importance appertaining to its wealth of resources, in contrast with other countries. Take for instance the marvellous results obtained from the
In various parts of the world, in which valuable fissure lodes of low grade ores exist. The "Great Granite Mountain mine" of Montana is a case in point, having distributed to its fortunate shareholders, in less than 10 years, fully £3,000,000 sterling. A mine that will last for many years, and now employing thousands of miners. So with the "Alaska Tread well" mine, working in an open quarry face, on ore worth 13s 9d per ton, paying dividends aggregating £80,000 annually, and employing an enormous staff. And, let us not omit the marvellous mines around Johannesburg, with an output of over 200,000 ozs of gold monthly, from a mineralised conglomerate averaging about 7dwts to the ton, and in which a speck of page 4 gold is seldom or never seen. I submit, Mr Chairman, a sample of the rock from which these enormous results have been obtained, presented to me by Mr David Ziman, of whom you have all heard, who assures me it was taken from one of the series of mines now in operation, and from a depth of 1200ft. The reefs of the locality being considered especially strong if they average 5ft in thickness. There are numberless other low grade mines, paying well, that could be mentioned in many parts of the world, but let it be understood all worked in the most skilful manner and devoid of any element of chance.
A recent report on the Mount Wills district of Victoria, embracing an area of 40 aquare miles, forms an interesting chapter, worthy of all attention, because several reefs have been discovered in the main belt of granite, many of them being distinct quartz veins traversing the granite in various directions, others consist of a crushed mass of granite containing fine quartz veins and seams of pyrites. The report recommends in prospecting granite country for auriferous dykes that the pestle and mortar be continually in use, and any rock of a finer texture, having a yellowish green tint, should be carefully examined by mortar and dish. The idea of sending any but well equipped parties is condemned.
Similar granite formations are the leading features observable for hundreds of miles in the great auriferous belts of the West Coast, and although gold has been proved to exist in these formations, scattered over an immense area and obtainable in any of the granitic formations, not one effort has been made by the State to solve the problem of the presence of gold in so finely divided a state, and over such a stretch of country, by exhaustive enquiry or scientific research. No—according to the doctrine which appears to be laid down by the apathetic, and, let us make bold to add, antiquated Mines Department, every novel discovery is to be looked upon with suspicion, a kind of "it has no business there" aspect. And the importance of the discovery or otherwise is to be sampled and judgment pronounced upon it in profound and learned phraseology from a well appointed office in Wellington. The idea of exhaustive enquiry in the field never seems to be considered, and presumably would be repugnant to the spirit of departmental inactivity.
This indifference on the part of the State to mining not only applies to the West Coast but to other parts of the Colony as well, and is forcibly brought under notice by recent events in faranaki, which are fraught with more than ordinary importance. That the valuable petroleum oil deposits, so long known to exist by the Mines Department, should have lain dormant for so many years is almost incredible. To chance circumestances alone is the country again indebted for the knowledge thus far obtained in connection with so promising an enterprise. So with the enormous deposits of valuable iron sand in the same district, No encouragement has been given by the state in promoting its development, The Government might long since, by judicious expenditure, have proved its Commercial value, might have built up an industry of great extent, justifiable in every sense, even if only to supply their own requirements, and as an appendage to their various work shops. It is a sad reflection, indeed, that industries of such a national character, calculated to established the permanency and importance of any country, should be so neglected, and that such a perverse spirit of listlessness should obtain in this so-called progressive age, and especially in a country so heavily protected in every respeet, it is impossible to over estimate the advantages unit would ensue were it otherwise. Apparently the advantages of this one particular industry are well understood by those capable of forming correct judgments upon it, for it is gratifying to find a well-known wealthy firm of iron and steel founders in England prepared to set aside capital for the erection of works in New Zealand to treat the ironsand in question, but on the condition that a Government subsidy of £1 per ton be granted up to 20,000 tons of iron produced—enough in reality to modestly start the industry itself upon. At any rate it will be interesting to watch the progress of the negotiations, but it is more than probable the acceptance of the proposition will be strongly advocated and the Government eventually become one of the largest customers. The policy of
New South Wales
Has certainly been somewhat different to that of New Zealand, for it has, to a certain extent, recognised the importance of the goldfields as one of the solutions of the unemployed difficulty. It is interesting to learn from recent reports that during the last three years over 18,000 men have been sent to the goldfields by the Government of that Colony, many of whom have met with success, others have opened up quite new mining fields, and all have in a greater or lesser degree found means of subsistence. Queensland, South Australia and Victoria have also done likewise.
Ere I conclude, I desire to direct attention to another important feature of mining of the present day which has been entirely neglected on the West Coast. I refer to deep sinking, the general result of which all over the world is fraught with the most satisfactory results. Take the series of mines at Charters Towers in Queensland, splendid paying mines not one of which is less than 1000ft in depth. In Victoria deep sinking is the rule—the Lansell series being the most conspicuous. Tasmania and South Australia also possess many valuable mines of the same character. No effort, worthy of the name, has been attempted on the West Coast—although surface indications have been most promising in many di rections. The result of deep sinking proved successful at Ross in the [unclear: lluv3] deposits, as demonstrated years ago by one of the most enterprising men of the day. I refer to the Cassius claim and the spiendid run of gold met with at the lower levels—but there the record under of that mine due entirely to bad management.
Reefton forms an interesting page in the history of reefing on the West Coast. Upper levels exhausted valuable properties sold and abandoned-not a solitary effort made to solve the problem of deeper deposits. The Mines Department looking on with indifference only one or two futile attempts to [unclear: drive] a deep level tunnel and the whole [unclear: affaira] dismat failure. This splendid field, which has turned out hundreds of thousand of ounces of gold in a few short years practically left to struggle along, awaiting some chance circumstance or other to restore it again into activity. Such is in reality the short history of this field which if in any other part of the global would soon be assessed at its real worth and become a most importar, mining centre, capable of employing a large industrial population.
A Clame for Mining.
It may well be claimed for mining that it is the brightest asset of any country when systematically and intelligenting pursued, and possesses the greatest power for good the world has ever known. The illustrations that might be given and the arguments advanced in its favour of beyond the scope of a paper such this, but will be readily recognised by audience familiar with the history of past, and whose interests and welfare and bound up in its progress. So far as New Zealand is concerned that man will be benefacter to his country who will bold espouse the cause of this great and languishing industry in the councils of the people, and to the people of the country To all true workers, to every association and organisation throughout the land must the appeal go forth for redress, the complaint be heard, and the question fought out at every meeting in the fort coming elections, and let that unity of purpose pronounce the decree on every platform, so that men shall be return to Parliament only who are bound by every pledge to do justice to the country and to one of its best and most neglected sources of prosperity, I trust I have a wearied you with the length of that observations. If I have, the importance of so interesting a subject must plead excuse on this ocasion, but I trust interpret your convictious on this question of mining, and that unitedly shall endeavor by every legitimate mean to emphasise the expediency necessities of the case, so that a [unclear: bright] era of progress may dawn upon to colony ere long, and the happiness welfare of its people be thereby sured.