The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 2
Appendix B. — N. Z. Parl. Paper, 1873. E. 10. — "Coal Fields Of New Zealand."
N. Z. Parl. Paper, 1873. E. 10.
"Coal Fields Of New Zealand."
25th October, 1872.
Referring you to that portion of Dr. Hector's report upon the coal mines of the Colony in which he recommends that assistance should be given from the funds available for that purpose to the Collingwood Coal Mining Company, to enable them to make a certain drive, in order further to prove the existence of coal in quantity, I have the honour to add my urgent recommendation that the sum of £750 be advanced from the fund referred to. The drive specified is estimated to cost about £1,500, and the Provincial Government have contributed £250, while the Company is prepared to find the remaining £500 which will be required.
The superior character of the coal, as reported on by Dr. Hector, the available nature of the port of shipment, added to the energy and perseverance displayed by the Company, which consists chiefly of working men with little or no capital but their labour, appear to me to form strong grounds for a claim to assistance from the page 26 Government, from funds devoted by the Legislature for the development of an industry of so great importance to the Colony.
Oswald Curtis,Superintendent of Nelson. The Hon. the Colonial Secretary, Wellington.
The Hon. the Colonial Secretary to the Superintendent of Nelson.
11th November, 1872..
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 25th ultimo, recommending that an advance of £750 be made to the Collingwood Coal-mining Company, to enable them further to ascertain the existence of coal in quantity in their mine.
In reply, I have to inform your Honour that the Government are quite ready to afford assistance to the above Mining Company, to enable them effectually to test the quantity and position of the coal which can be got from their mine.
After consulting with Dr. Hector, however, the Government believe that the necessary cost of the tunnel has been over-estimated. Dr. Hector proposes to visit Nelson next week, and after receiving his report the Government will communicate further with your Honour.
In the meantime they are prepared to promise the Company a subsidy of £500 for the purpose above-mentioned, which will doubtless enable them to proceed at once to call for tenders for the work.
J. Hall.His Honour the Superintendent, Nelson.
Dr. Hector to the Hon. The Colonia Secretary.
3rd December, 1872.
I have the honour to report that, in accordance with your instructions, I have surveyed the Collingwood Coal Mine, and made an estimate of the probable length of the tunnel recommended in a former report, with the view of ascertaining if the grant of £500 made by Government will be sufficient to enable the Company to carry out the work.
The Company, anticipating that they would receive assistance from Government, had the tunnel commenced in September last, under the enclosed contract, at the rate of 30s. per foot.page 27
The tunnel, on the 25th ultimo, had been carried forward 102 feet, at an average rate of progress of 10 feet per week. The contract provides that only 75 per cent, of the amount done from time to time is to be paid to the contractors; but the Manager having, at their pressing solicitation, advanced the full amount, the contractors have taken advantage of this and abandoned the contract. This will cause some delay while fresh tenders are being called for; and I also doubt if a new contract will be obtained at the same rate as the first (which is very much below my previous estimate of 50s. per foot) notwithstanding that the hardest part of the rock has now been cut through.
A plan and section of the mine is being prepared from my survey, and will show the nature of the rock and the extent of the field that will be opened up by it.
The height of the workings above the drive I determined with a pocket level, and the remainder of the altitude by the aneroid barometer.
The direction of the drive was checked, and found to be within 1 degree of a line at right angles to the longest level course in the old workings.
The dip of the strata was determined at several points, and an average of 1 in 3 taken as the most reliable for the beds through which the tunnel will pass, although subject to variation in other localities in the immediate vicinity.
From these data the lowest known seam of coal, 1 foot thick (No. 6 of former report), should be cut at 140 feet in the drive, or about 40 feet further than its present extent; the lowest seam that has been worked (No. 4), at 330 feet; the middle seam (No. 3), at 540 feet; and the upper or main seam, that has been worked, at about 600 feet.
|Gray sandstone, with coaly layers in thick beds, with intervening bands of very tough breccia
|Gray sandstone, with bands of breccia from 1 to 3 ft. thick; shale partings at 3 to 8 ft.
|Gray sandstone and ironstone shales, with thin layers of breccia; frequent clay partings
|Gray sandstone and black shale
|Coal and shale
|Coal and shale
|Clay iron band
|Clay iron band
|Coal and ironstone band
|Contract price per foot, 102 feet already down, at 30s., and 500 at say 35s.
|Cost of certain tools and ventilation (under clause 5) say
|Cost of inspection on behalf of Company; proportion of working manager's wages, 60 weeks at 30s.
This does not differ materially from my former estimate, £1,125; and until the work has made further progress, I do not recommend that the application for increased assistance beyond the £500 already granted should be considered.
With regard to the manner in which the Government grant will be paid, I have arranged with the Manager of the Company, in accordance with your authority conveyed by telegram, that 75 per cent, of the amount due under contract for driving the tunnel will be paid from time to time on the certificate of His Honour the Superintendent. A first payment has been made under this arrangement, page 29 being the proportion due on the 102 feet excavated by the late contractors.
James Hector.The Hon. the Colonial Secretary, Wellington.
Mr. Webster to Dr. Hector.
18th January, 1873.
A most disastrous flood occurred at Collingwood last Tuesday, carrying away the coal wharf bodily, and Mr. Marshall advises me that thirteen of the tramway bridges are completely wrecked; estimated damage about £200. Mr. Marshall also notifies that the new contractors for the tunnel have thrown up their contract, after doing about 10 feet, and recommends that 200 feet of the tough measures be tendered for, as it is difficult to convince men that the ground will become easier.
M. Webster,Dr. Hector, Wellington.
Mr. Webster to Dr. Hector.
1st March, 1873.
I have much pleasure in advising you that the contractors now driving the tunnel are likely to carry it through; it is now four weeks since they commenced work, and they have in that time driven 50 feet, cutting the first seam of coal as near as possible at the distance stated in the section you kindly furnished. Mr. Marshall advises me that it is 3 feet, and cleaner than the outcrop, but not clean enough to work; they are now in the hard ground again, and, as you are aware, it will be some months before they come to the next seam; the present contract is 37s. per foot. There are six men employed, and the work is carried on night and day. I have security for £50, and the contractors leave the amount of the first 25 feet in my hands until the contract is finished. The entire distance driven up to Tuesday last is 169 feet, that is made up thus: first contractors, 102 feet; second, 17 feet (for which I refuse to pay at present); and 50 feet by the present contractors.
It is contemplated to make a new road to the Ruatanawa; consequently the old road is not to be repaired. The Ruatanawa has from 12 to 14 feet at low water inside, so that vessels would not have to lie aground at low water; and it is not disturbed with floods, &c.
M. Webster,Dr. Hector, Wellington.
Mr. Webster to Dr. Hector.
14th April, 1873.
I beg to advise you that Mr. Marshall reports having found ironstone both above and below the first coal seam cut in the new drive; he states that the bands vary from 6 to 12 inches; and as it appears to me better than anything got out before, I take the liberty of sending a sample herewith, trusting that, when opportunity offers, you may be able to analyze it and let me know the result.
The contractors are still pushing forward with the drive, but the water increases every foot they proceed, so much so that they cannot work more than six-hour shifts. Up to the 8th instant they had driven 101 feet, and under that date they addressed a letter to me, asking for an advance of 3s. per foot on account of the difficulties they had to contend with; but the Directors decline to entertain such an advance, as it is quite possible they may get into easier ground at any time.
I may add that the water blast is acting admirably, carrying abundance of air for the safe and proper working of the drive.
M. Webster,Dr. Hector, Wellington.
Report by Dr. Hector Relative to the Collingwood Coal Mine.
10th May, 1873..
In continuation of my former communication of 3rd December, I have the honour to report that I again inspected the Collingwood Coal Mine on 16th April, and found that the tunnel was excavated for a distance of 230 feet from the entrance, the new contractors having driven 113 feet in ten weeks. The rock continues to be very hard and tough, and only a few shale partings have been met with to favour the work. The lowest of the seven seams of coal was cut at 165 feet, and affords indications of a favourable change in the formation as it dips into the hill. At the outcrop, on the face of the waterfall, this seam only showed 6 inches of clean coal, distributed in thin layers through about 4 feet of sandy shale; but in the drive it showed 14 inches of clean coal, with a roof of sandy shale, and resting on a sandstone hand 2 feet thick, beneath which is a second seam of coal 6 inches thick. In the shale roof there is a band of ironstone 10 inches thick.
At 200 feet several small cross-joints were encountered, from which water gushed with considerable force, greatly impeding the work and adding to the cost, by frequently causing the charges to miss fire. To overcome the difficulty, I recommended the use of dynamite instead of gunpowder, as its explosive properties are not affected by water.
The drive continues to be straight and at right angles across the page 31 strata, which show a tendency to flatten, the dip having decreased from 20° to 17° as the drive advanced.
Ventilation is effected by a very ingenious contrivance erected by the manager, Mr. Marshall. Water is led from a stream above the mine, with a pressure of 120 feet fall, in a small tin pipe, and delivered through an open pipe into a cask at the mouth of the mine. Air is carried into the cask by the force of the jet of water, and by a simple arrangement is forced into a 7-inch square trunk or wooden pipe, that leads it to the working face, where it escapes with a blast sufficient to blow out a candle at 6 feet distance. The drive is thus thoroughly cleared of the powder-smoke and foul air without the usual expense of an extra hand to work a fan.
I may state that this ingenious plan was suggested by Mr. Moutre, in Nelson, who in this manner employs the high-pressure water supplied to him in Nelson to blow a forge.
A new coal seam has been found cropping out in the gully about 30 feet above the first seam, so that it will be cut at about 260 feet. It is about 6 inches thick, and on it rests a foot of very superior ironstone.
So large is the amount of carbonaceous matter distributed throughout the ferruginous sandstones excavated in the drive, that the spoil-heap in the gully caught fire, and burned with such vehemence that it was only extinguished after some difficulty by turning the creek into the flaming mass. It is therefore very probable that many of the carbonaceous layers that would not be worth working for the clean coal they contain might yet be profitably worked along with the bands of ironstone for the supply of a blast-furnace.
The elevated position of the mine, with its coal and ironstone seams, and the close proximity of fine crystalline limestone, which is cut through by the tramway between the top of the incline and the mine, are all favourable circumstances for the establishment of ironworks at this place, as the furnaces could be charged with the raw material, and manufactured iron delivered by gravitation at a favourable place for shipment. Having mentioned this to Mr. Webster, the legal manager of the Company, he applied for information respecting the cost of erection of suitable furnaces, and in reply received the appended estimate from a correspondent in England. (Enclosure A.)
|From the coal and ironstone band, which is the highest bed in the series proposed to be cut in the tunnel, a specimen of compact brown or hydrous hematite was found to contain 46.06 per cent, of iron. The ore occurs in quantity immediately over the main or 3 feet 6 inches seam of coal, and is mixed with a large proportion of carbonaceous matter in irregular layers.
|Concretionary ironstone from below the main coal. This is really a highly ferruginous shale, about 2 feet thick, but in two layers, separated by 1 foot of coal. The concretionary structure is only discernible on weathered surfaces. A fair average sample of page 32 the ironstone gave 43.26 per cent, of iron. Both of these ores contain a good deal of iron-carbonate disseminated throughout.
|From the ironstone already mentioned in this report as underlying a newly-discovered coal seam low down in the series.
The coal is only 1 foot thick, and the ironstone is about 16 inches; but its full thickness and relation to the other strata will not be known till it is cut in the tunnel, in which it should be reached at about 270 feet. The ironstone is very compact, and from the large proportion of carbonaceous matter intermixed, and from its containing carbonate of iron, could be easily smelted. The per centage of iron it gave on analysis was 42.1.
|Sesquioxide of iron
The per centage of iron contained in the ore is 61.81.
Within easy reach of any ironworks established in this locality would also be the valuable deposits of brown or hydrous hematite at Parapara, which is only four miles distant This ore might be valuable to mix with other varieties of ironstone, although not well adapted by itself for the manufacture of iron of fine quality.
This coal forms a strong coke, and is quite as useful as that from the seams in the mine; but in extent, appearance, and the high per centage of water for a bituminous coal, it resembles the seam at Pakawau.
No calcareous beds were seen in the upper part of the formation on the top of the range, as stated on the authority of Mr. Marshall in a previous report, the limestone referred to by him being only the outcrop, on the spur south of the mine of the crystalline limestone that underlies the coal formation.
Coal seams have recently been found on the face of the Whakamarama range, about five miles south of the coalmine, in the bed of the Otamataura stream, by Mr. Ellis, who guided me to the locality. We reached it by ascending a steep spur from the Aorere river, below the junction of the Otamataura, to the height of 1,800 feet, and then dropping into the valley of the latter stream at an altitude of 1,000 feet. Below this point the valley is precipitous, the stream leaping over precipices of conglomerate, being the "Ramparts" that are so distinctly visible from the Collingwood side of the valley. These ramparts are formed of the conglomerates at the base of the coal formation, the surface of which can be traversed by the eye along the face of the hills for many miles both to north and south.
|Brown sandstone, forming the upper part of the range, and almost covered with vegetation, but showing beds of rather fine gravel conglomerate, at least
|Brown and gray sandstone
|Dark Sandy Shale
The thickness from the top of the fall to the base of the formation, where the conglomerate rests on granite, was not ascertained, but it is at a much lower level than in Mine Creek.
At 100 yards up the creek, from the top of the fall, the strata are cut by a fault which throws down the coal seam to the west, as shown in the section.
The prevailing dip of the strata east of the fault is 8° to 12°, to W. 20° N., and the strike of the fault, as far as could be made out, is W. 20° S., its inclination 60° to N.W.
The existence of broken coal in the crushed fragments, included in the fault, renders it pretty certain that there are higher seams in the formation than those above described.*
1st October, 1878.
|(A) Upper Seam.
|(B) Lower Seam.
Both coals are hard, black, and lustrous, burning freely, and yielding a large quantity of coke. Their powder is brown, and in both iron pyrites are disseminated in minute quantities, giving to the ash a pale buff colour. The upper coal is compact and homogeneous, while the lower is distinctly laminated.
Still further up the valley than the fault are heavy blocks of conglomerate like those already described as occurring in the upper part of Mine Creek; but as the ferruginous beds which are so prominent in the Mine Creek section are wanting, the formation must have been altered very much in character, the conglomerates at the base having thickened and replaced much of the proper coal-measures; on the other hand, the coal seams must correspond with those on the western slope of the mountains above the coal mine, and other seams of coal may yet be discovered lower down the valley.
In the event of workable seams being found in this part of the field, access to them will be obtained by the valley of the Otamataura Creek, by the employment of inclines, the circumstances being similar to those in Mine Creek.
Extract from a Letter Received by Mr. W. Webster from Messrs. Fielding & Platt, Atlas Iron-works, Gloucester.
With regard to the blast-furnaces, we have had considerable experience in the erection and working of them, and machinery connected therewith, and shall be glad to furnish plans and estimates if you will give us particulars of the kind of fuel, ore, and whether the coal will be used raw or "coked," and just an outline of the ground.
We enclose estimate which we have just got out for the Forest of Dean District, in this country, for two small furnaces and appliances, where a very first-class hæmatite iron is made (suitable for Bessemer steel); and also cost of producing the iron, which at the present time is selling at £9 per ton. The ore holds a great deal of water, and much of it is very fine or small, so that it cannot be calcined, and consequently furnaces of small capacity are used. The dimensions are—50 feet high × 15 feet diameter of boshes, 6 feet hearth.page 35
The gases are taken off and utilized under the boilers; but as the Forest ores require so much time to flux them, the gas is not reliable for the stoves. In most other English districts the gas is sufficient for stoves and boilers. The water-pressure you mention, if in sufficient quantity, would be an economical blowing power, and our water-engine is very well adapted for the purpose, and would come in at a very moderate price. The furnace, plant, &c., we refer to is for a first-class job; iron-cased furnaces, gas apparatus, stoves, duplicates, blowing-engines, and everything to put them to work. By reference to the enclosed estimate of the working of two furnaces, as before described, you will see that iron-making is a most lucrative business in this country, even with the competition there is; and in your country we should say it would be still better, providing fuel is suitable and iron of good quality. With regard to working plans, we could supply these at anything from £20 to £200, according to the amount of details and completeness. However, we could make them, so that any practical engineer could carry out the work from them in every detail for about £50.
Fielding & Platt.
Estimate of Cost of Two Furnaces, 50 Feet High, 16 Feet Boshes, 6 Feet Hearths.
|Foundation of furnaces
|Stack, flues, and boiler-seats
|Engine-house and foundations
|Hoist-well and hoist
|Stoves, brickwork, and castings
|Furnaces and lining, with gas apparatus
|Two blowing engines
|Cast-houses, roofs, &c.
|Ore, 45,000 tons, @ 20s.
|Coke, 25,000 tons, @ 30s.
|Shale, 7,500 tons, @ 5s.
|Coal, 3,000 tons, @ 10s.
|Labour, 18,000 tons, @ 8s.
|Rates and taxes.
|Manager and clerks.
|Interest on £50,000.
|Depreciation on £20,000.
|18,000 tons iron, @ £9
|Cost of producing same, as above
|Balance of profit
Mr. Webster to Dr. Hector.
27th May, 1873.
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your memorandum sent by Mr. Curtis, and now beg to advise you that I visited the mine on the 15th instant, and found that, although the contractors had not actually knocked off, their progress was very slow indeed; but with the promise of 3s. more per foot, they had commenced with renewed vigour; and having in a great measure lost the water overhead, I consider the prospect of their carrying the contract through is much improved.
The present contractors have driven 137 feet up to the 20th instant; and adding 117 feet driven before, makes a total of 254 feet. So far, the driving has been quite satisfactory to the Mining Manager, all the strata passed through being very regular, with an inclination to flatten. The first seam of coal was cut as near as possible at the distance indicated in your section, and shows much improvement from the outcrop; out of the formation of 3 feet, 2 feet of first-class coal could be mined. Above and below this seam there are two bands of ironstone, varying from 6 inches to 12 inches thick, a sample of which I left at your office on the 15th of April, and which has been reported on very favourably by Mr. Skey; the yield being 42 per cent, of iron.
From a personal inspection of the mode in which the "waterfall" has been utilized for the purpose of ventilating the drive, I have no hesitation in pronouncing it a great success,—supplying abundance of air to the fan, and since the water was turned on, some two months ago, has acted splendidly night and day without cessation.
Since my return from the mine, the Mining Manager has advised me "that the contractors have struck another burst of water," but they may lose it again at any time.
M. Webster, Legal Manager. Dr. Hector, Wellington.
Mr. Webster to the Hon. the Minister for Public Works.
18th June, 1873.
In acknowledging the valuable aid the General Government has rendered this Company, in assisting them to prospect their page 37 mine with a Government tunnel, I beg to advise you that the cost per foot has increased considerably since the commencement of operations, having started with a contract at 30s., and we are now paying 40s. As it was hinted to Dr. Hector before the drive was commenced that assistance to the amount of £750 would be required, I am instructed by the Directors to inquire if the Government will make a further advance of £250. The £500 advance is not quite exhausted, but I make this application now to enable us to finance for finishing the drive.
The drive up to the present time has cost—say
|75 per cent, of contract, management, piping, &c. for air
|25 per cent, of contract held by Directors as security
Estimated cost to finish drive, £900.
The Hon. E. Richardson,
H. M. Webster,Minister for Public Works, Wellington. Legal Manager.
Dr. Hector to the Hon. The Minister for Public Works.
23rd June, 1873.
Reverting to the application from the legal manager of the Collingwood Coal Mining Company, dated 18th November last, for a further grant of £250 to enable the directors to make arrangements for completing the prospecting tunnel now in progress, I have the honour to recommend that this additional assistance should be given. The work is being most satisfactorily executed, and at a cost still considerably below the original estimate. If it is merely looked on as work towards the exploration of the field, I consider the data obtained by the tunnel to be far more satisfactory, and, I believe, less costly, than could be got by boring. A slight change for the better in the character of the coal-measures between the outcrop and where they are cut in the tunnel, has already been found, so that the prospect of the venture being a commercial success is better than when the work was commenced. Even if the coal seams should not be worked for coal alone, as pointed out in my memorandum of 10th May, it is probable that they will be worked profitably in conjunction with the ironstone beds that are in contact with them. I do not think that the work could be more economically or rapidly pushed on than it is at present under the management of the company; and in the event of the tunnel proving the value of the mine to be satisfactory, the company will find no difficulty in increasing their capital, and repaying the advance, if required. This additional advance is made contingent upon the company being able to raise the balance page 38 necessary to complete the work. The best way to effect this will be to reduce the proportional payments made by Government from 75 per cent, to 30 per cent, of the amounts due from time to time under the contract.
Thomas HuttonThe Hon. the Minister for Public Works, Wellington.
The Under Secretary to Mr. Webster.
14th July, 1873.
I am directed by the Hon. Mr. Richardson to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 18th June, and in reply to inform you that the Government have directed a further advance of £250 to be scheduled towards completing the Collingwood drive. This additional advance is made contingent upon the Company being able to raise the balance necessary to complete the work. The best way to effect this will be to reduce the proportional payments made by the Government from 75 per cent, to 30 per cent, of the amounts due from time to time under the contract, which course be good enough to follow.
John Knowles,Under Secretary. H. M. Webster, Esq., Legal Manager, Collingwood Coal Mining Company, Nelson.
19th July, 1873.
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 14th instant, advising me that the Government had made a further advance of £250 towards completing Tunnel B; and I now beg to convey the assurance of the Directors of this Company that the necessary funds will be raised by them to complete the drive. The work is being pushed forward as rapidly as possible, the contractor averaging about 50 feet per month.
H. M. Webster.
John Knowles,Esq., Under Secretary, Wellington.
Dr. Hector to the Hon. The Colonial Secretary.
2nd September, 1873.
|Tough sandstone and breccia, with carbonaceous matter
|Dip 19° to W.
|Coal, clean and bright
|Coal, clean and bright
|Sandstone, with bands of grit. Fault. Downthrow to W. 18 inches
|Sandstone and breccia. Dip 12° W. Fault. Downthrow to S.W. 18 inches
|Dark sandy shale with films of coal. Dip 30° to W.
|Coal, not clean
|Dip 30° to W., and passes under a thick mass of
|Dolomite of magnesia limestone, passing into breccia of the same. Contains carb. of lime, 53 per cent.; carb. of magnesia, 44 per cent.
|The coal then rises again in the floor of the drive, and 10 to 13 are again cut with dip 16° W.
|Tough carbonaceous sandy shale. Dip 10° to N. 30 W.
|Coal mixed with shale
|Fault. Downthrow 9 feet to W. at 45°.
|Tough crown carbonaceous sandstone, not bedded
The coal seam (16) was cut only in the roof of the drive, and, had the level of the drive been a few feet lower, it would have been missed altogether. On the other hand, had the level been even a few inches higher, the true nature of the dolomite (14) would not have been ascertained, and it might have been taken for a dyke instead of a local variety in the stratified rock forming the cover of the coal.
The only fault of any importance is that occurring at 17, and its effect will be to shorten the length of the drive required to cut the page 40 main coal by about 50 feet, and also thereby avoid the cutting of some of the hardest rock that had to be excavated in the course of the work.
I have therefore to report that the work is progressing even more favourably than was anticipated. The rate at which the drive is advanced averages 2 feet per day, and the distance which still remains to be driven, in order to cut the main coal, is about 200 feet.
As I returned from Collingwood I took the opportunity of reexamining the deposit of brown ironstone at Parapara, and found that my former estimate of its extent is nearly correct.
The ore occurs as large patches in a stratum of gravel. The greatest thickness of the stratum is 100 feet, and the area of the patches of ironstone showing at the surface is about 100 acres.
The ironstone weathers to a dark colour, and covers the surface of the hills with blocks of all sizes up to many tons in weight A rough estimate made on the spot gave the quantity of ore available by mere surface excavation as at least 15,000,000 tons.
The ironstone everywhere shows traces of its origin as a bog ore that was deposited as a cement among gravel, as it contains rolled pebbles of quartz; but much of it is free from such admixture, and by hand-picking, and a simple modification of the smelting process, much of the siliceous matter could be eliminated, and the ore profitably smelted.
All the varieties of iron ore occurring at this place, and also at the coal mine, were collected on this occasion, and will be reported on as soon as they have been analyzed.
James Hector,The Hon. the Colonial Secretary.
* Since this Report was made, I have seen one 4' 6" thick, in comparing with the late Mr. W. Buckland, M.H.R.