Official Guide to the Government Court: N.Z. Centennial Exhibition
In 1878 the Mines Department was created to control the Crown's mineral resources in New Zealand, and in 1910 the regulation of stone quarries was added to the Department's responsibilities.
The control of the Crown's mineral resources is exercised under the authority of three Acts, viz., the Coal-Mines Act, 1925, the Mining Act, 1926, and the Petroleum Act, 1937.
The Coal-Mines Act deals mainly with the winning of coal, and the Department's functions are the administration of coal-bearing lands belonging to the Crown, the regulation of coal-mining activities whether on Crown or other lands, and the operation of State coal-mines. The Department is actively working two coal-mines near Greymouth, while a third, in the same locality, is in process of development. Another State coal-mine in the North Island is leased to a private company. The Department's entry into the coal-mining industry took place in November, 1903, when coal was first produced from the Seddonville State Mine. This mine, which was situated some 29 miles north of Westport, was closed down in May, 1914. To date, nearly 6,750,000 tons of coal has been produced by the Department from its own coal-mines.
The Mining Act provides the machinery for the granting, through the Warden's Court, of mining privileges to prospect and mine for gold and other minerals on Crown land, and on other lands where the minerals are reserved to the Crown; for the working regulation and inspection of mines; for the registration and control of gold dealers; and for the regulation of other more or less important matters connected with the mining industry.
The Department's functions under the Petroleum Act, 1937, are the control of [ oil petroleum in its natural state in the Dominion, the granting of licences to search ond mine, and the regulation of all prospecting and mining activities.
Another function of the Department is to give advice and assistance to persons, syndicates and companies interested in legitimate mining.
The Department maintains a number of prospecting drills of various types suitable for the conditions existing in the Dominion. These drills are loaned on reasonable terms to bona-fide prospectors, mining syndicates or companies.
The chief aim of the Department is to provide for the efficient and economical working of the mines and quarries of the country; to secure to the miner conditions that will tend to minimise the risk of accident; and to safeguard in every possible way the health and welfare of all persons engaged in the mining industry.
The staff of the Mines Department is made up of clerical and technical officers under the control of the Under-Secretary, who, in turn, is responsible to the Minister of Mines. The inspection staff, consisting of the Inspecting Engineer of Mines and Chief Inspector of Coal-mines, and nine Inspectors of Mines, is responsible for the working, regulation, and inspection of coal-mines, metal-mines and quarries rthroughout the country.