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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 2

Report by Mr. George Binns, M.E

page 49

Report by Mr. George Binns, M.E.

Colonial Museum of New Zealand, Wellington,


I have the honour to forward, for the information of the Hon. the Minister for Public Works, a report by Mr. Binns, on the deposit of iron ore at Para-para, Golden Bay, a special examination of this locality having been made, in compliance with the verbal request of the Hon. the Premier, in connection with the proposed scheme for having the iron manufactured within the colony.

I have &c., (Signed)

James Hector.

The Under Secretary Public Works.

P.S.—Appended also is a Map of the Colony, showing the localities where iron ore and coal seams are found.

Wellington, Report on Hematite at Para-Para. To the Director of Geological Survey, New Zealand.


In compliance with instructions received, I visited the hematite deposit at Para-para in the begining of October, 1878, and have the honour to report as follows:—

page 50
The subject may be divided into three heads:—
I.Extracts from what has already been published on the subject, with remarks.
II.Description of situation, mode of occurrence, &c.
III.Estimate of quantity.

I. Extracts from what has already been published on the subject, with Remarks.

In the Seventh Annual Report on the Colonial Museum and Laboratory, published in 1872, No. 1230, is a valuable hydrous hematite ore from Para-para, Collingwood, but it unfortunately occurs intermixed with quartz pebbles, being, in fact, the cementing material of a bed of conglomerate, at least 100 feet thick, which extends for about 1,000 yards at the surface. If by hand-picking a large amount of iron ore could be obtained equal to the sample analyzed, the deposit would be a valuable one.

Sesquioxide of iron 62.68
Manganese traces
Lime .61
Magnesia traces
Siliceous matter 23.47
Water 13.24

The amount of metallic iron in the sample received would be about 44 per cent. A very good pigment, especially adapted for ironwork, is manufactured from this ore.

Remarks.—I cannot quite agree with what is said about the occurrence of quartz pebbles, and the necessity for picking the ore. There are many places in which a quartz pebble is a rarity, and if the quarry were commenced in a judiciously chosen position, it would, I think, be unnecessary to exercise any great care in selecting the ore. This would have to be in page 51 the upper portion of the deposit, as the stone there seemed to me much more free from impurities.

The length of the deposit within the boundary of the lease, as shown in the accompanying plan, is 2,772 yards, and I think it runs right across the country to Onakaka Creek, a distance of more than a mile from the boundary: its average thickness is, I think, over 200 feet.

From the Ninth Annual Report on the Colonial Museum and Laboratory:—

"Para-Para Iron Ore."

As intimately connected with the value of the Parapara iron ore, I give an analysis of some iron produced from it at Melbourne in the latter end of 1873.

The composition of the iron alluded to was ascertained to be as follows:—
Iron 97.668
Manganese .268
Carbon, combined .542
Carbon, free (graphite) .208
Silicon, with titanium traces 1.004
Phosphorus .041
Sulphur .269

Physical Characters.—Colour uniform, approaching white; structure homogeneous, and finely granular; hard, brittle.

From the character and analytical results above cited, it will be seen that this sample is of the variety technically known as white iron. It is comparatively free from phosphorus, but contains sulphur in some quantity, though not greater than is found in many pig irons smelted from the same class of ore which has furnished the present specimen.

page 52
The following analysis of Para-para hematite is from the report on the Philadelphia Exhibition of 1876:—
Protoxide of iron 35.23
Sesquioxide of iron 25.77
Oxide of manganese 1.00
Alumina 2.11
Magnesia 1.94
Lime .71
Silica .90
Sulphuric acid traces
Carbonic acid 21.12
Phosphoric acid not determined
Sulphide of iron 4.1
Water 1.96
Organic matter 5.72
Silicate undecomposed by acids 3.03
In a letter from Dr. Hector to the Colonial Secretary, dated "Wellington, 2nd September, 1873":—

"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 a mixture, 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."

Remarte.—I have noticed the quartz pebbles else page 53 where, and would merely suggest the alteration, "Most of it is free from such admixture."

With reference to the above amount, viz. 15,000,000 tons, which is so very much under my estimate, the small amount includes only what is available by surface-excavation. The larger figure represents my estimate of the total quantity.

In a memorandum from Dr. Hector to the Colonial Industries Committee, in 1873:—"No. 9 is from a deposit of hydrous hematite that occurs in the Upper Tertiary drifts at Para-para, in the province of Nelson, but is also not infrequent in many other localities."

The ore occurs as the matrix of the quartz conglomerate, but often containing large masses of nearly pure ore, several hundred pounds in weight. On breaking these, there is frequently a kernel of undecomposed sulphide of iron, showing the origin of the ore is probably from the denudation of a mineral vein.

Mr. E. W. Mills, in evidence tendered to the same Committee, says:—

"I produce to the Committee a piece of wrought iron made from the above ore. I consider it of first-rate quality; it was twisted and bent cold in my establishment this morning."

It may not be out of place to give a short extract from the publications of the Second Geological Survey of Pennsylvania, by Mr. F. Prince, Junr., Assistant-Geologist.

"Description of the Brown Hematite on ranges of Lehigh County.

"The great bulk of the iron ore found in the dolomite or limestone is known under the names of Limonite or Brown Hematite. It is the hydrated ferric oxide, having the formula 2Fa3 Oz3 H2 O, containing when pure 59 89 per cent, of iron.

"The ore occurs massive, earthy, botryoidal, mammillary, concretionary, and occasionally stalactitic. It page 54 has a silky, often a submetallic, lustre, sometimes dull and earthy; colour of surface of fracture, various shades of brown, commonly dark, and none bright; when earthy, brownish, yellow, ochre-yellow. The streak is yellowish-brown. When stalactitic, it forms pipe ore, which is rather scarce; when concretionary it forms hollow spherical masses, commonly known under the names of pot or bombshell ore. These hollow masses commonly contain water or masses of unctuous clay; their interior surface often presents a glazed appearance, due to a very thin coating or incrustation of oxide of manganese, which imparts a nearly black varnish-like surface. Sometimes the bombshell is solid; its interior then presents a honeycombed appearance, as if from the percolation of chalybeate water into the mass after the exterior shell had been formed."

This is an admirable description of the Para-para hematite, but I did not find it stalactitic. The per centage of metallic iron in various samples of the Lehigh stone is almost the same as that of the Para-para.

To continue Mr. Prince's remarks:—

"Many persons have supposed that the limonite was formed by the oxidation of iron pyrites. It is to be noted as a fact rather opposed to this view, that, with one exception, it has been found impossible thus far to find iron pyrites in any of the mines examined. That exception is at Thomas Breiing's mine, and there the pyrite is evidently of later age than the limonite, and has a stalactitic appearance. Some persons, on the other hand, have supposed that the ore was formed by the alteration of carbonate of iron, which has been found in some cases present in the limestone. Still others have supposed the ores to be the result of reaction between the limestone and ferrous sulphate."

As yet all of these theories are mere hypotheses, and before the correctness of all or more of them can be proved, it will require a long series of chemical investigations.

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Plan to Accompany Report on a Hematite Deposit at Para Para

Plan to Accompany Report on a Hematite Deposit at Para Para

page 55

II. Description of Situation, Mode of Occurrence,&c

The deposit forming the subject of this report occurs about a mile S.E. of the mouth of the Para-para river, in the province of Nelson. About five miles north of this is the town of Collingwood, close to which is the Collingwood Coal Company Wallsend Mine, which yields some of the best coal in New Zealand. At present this mine is unable to progress as rapidly as it might, owing to the thinness of the seam, and to the fact that bands of shale exist in the coal; but the demand that would spring up in the event of the hematite being worked, presuming that this coal were used for smelting the stone, for which purpose it is admirably suited, would doubtless give such an impetus to the mine as to enable the works to be carried on at a profit.

The hematite is, as shown on the plan, close to the Para-para Inlet, and a short tramway would enable the ore to be shipped on barges and taken to Collingwood, where there is every facility for the construction of a wharf at which vessels of any size could lie.

There is a large deposit of nearly pure crystalline limestone on the banks of the Para-para river, on either side of the letter K on plan.

The numerous streams on the neighbouring hills would give ample water-power, should such be needed.

It is unnecessary to describe the character of the ore itself, as Mr. Prince's description applies equally well to this stone. The main mass extends, as shown on the accompanying plan, in a longitudinal direction, bearing about N.W. and S.E., except at the end near the shore, where it turns round to the N.; there are also several outlying portions, marked B to L.

The parts in which the ore was found to be pyritous are all near the Para-para river. In some cases, notably in the outlying patch B, the ore seems to form part only of the hill; so in this and similar cases I have assumed its existence under that ground which page 56 is covered with it. To determine its position accurately or to form any idea as to what its depth really is, would require boring or sinking.

The ground is much broken up by gullies, &c., and for this an allowance is made in the estimate.

In a gully, which has been excavated partly by gold-diggers and partly by the action of water, to a depth of 30 to 40 feet, I found what appeared to be the junction between the slates and the hematite; the line is much faulted and disturbed, and in places the ore appears to run up through the rock in veins; at the junction the hematite is of a very inferior and argillaceous character.

In Onakaka Creek, at M on the plan, the ore occurs in immense masses, of excellent quality, both in the bed of the stream and on the sides of the hills. This point is more than a mile distant from the south corner of the Para-para Company's lease, as shewn on plan.

In the bed of the Para-para river, at K on the plan, the hematite occurs on the east side of the stream, and has very much the appearance of a reef, but I failed to trace it on the other bank: here it is very pyritous. On the inland track, at L on the plan, there is a small leader of ironstone, having a bearing of N. 58 E., a hade of 30° to the N., and a width of about 3 feet: this portion was so much mixed with iron pyrites as to appear to be almost entirely composed of it.

III. Estimate of Quantity.

The ironstone being in many places of so open a structure that it would be useless to take the specific gravity of a number of samples with a view to finding that of the whole, I have assumed this to be 2.8; thus making a cubic foot weigh 175 lb.

I was unable to do more than take a number of aneroid readings, and so estimate the height of the main hill: this appears to be about 200 feet. Acting page 57 on these assumptions, I have made the following calculations:—
A. Average height 200 feet
Average width 950 feet
Average section 119,700 square ft., but deducting one-third for gullies, this becomes 79,800 sq. ft.
Length 8,316 feet
No. of tons of hematite 51,835,600
B. Average height 34 feet
Average section 5,100 sq. feet
Length 2,100 feet
No. of tons of hematite 836,719
C. Average height 14 feet
Diameter 310 feet
No. of tons of hematite 82,553
D. Average height 10 feet
Diameter 75 feet
No. of tons of hematite 3,450
E. Average height 10 feet
Diameter 75 feet
No. of tons of hematite 3,450
F. Average height 20 feet
Diameter 240 feet
No. of tons of hematite 70,686
G. Average height 20 feet
Diameter 90 feet
No. of tons of hematite 9,927
H. Average height 20 feet
Diameter 120 feet
No. of tons of hematite 13,254
I. Average height 50 feet
Diameter 132 feet
No. of tons of hematite 37,419
Total No. of tons of hematite 52,893,058
page 58

In this estimate no ore lying outside the boundary-line is included, nor are the deposits at K and L.

Between the small hills F and G and the main hill is a small knob of about the same size as F, which is to all outward appearance solid hematite; in this, however, is an excavation, about eight feet in depth, exhibiting the following section:—
ft. in.
Ironstone with many quartz pebbles 1 6
Clay 6 6

This shows that the mass of the hill is clay, with merely a shell of hematite. From this fact I am doubtful as to whether this may not occur in a good many cases; but it could be proved only by boring.

Without this aid no accurate estimate of the quantity of hematite can be made.

I have, &c., (Signed)

George J. Binns, M.E.

Wyman and Sons, Printers, Great Queen Street, London, W.C.

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Names of Districts and Mines. Area or esti-mated quantity of Coal. Number and Thickness of Seams. Quality of Coal. System of Working. Output for past year. Means of Transport, &c Remarks. No. NO. FT TONs. mills 1. KAWA KAWA................ Ten sq. miles One 12 Glance Stoop and room 36,599 Tunnel and tram to Harbour 2. WANGeeeI. Walton's Mine... " 10 Pitch " 2,000 " " 4 Level free " Kamo Sixteen " 10 " " 1,200 " " 5 " 3. DrUBY .................. " Tramway to railway 5 Abandoned 4. MIRANDA .................. " 54 Pitch Square work 600 (Shaft water carriage to railway at Waikato River....... 16 6. WAIKATO. Kupa Kupa ..................... TONS. " 18 Brown Post and stall 5,200 Shoots to Waikato River... Ralph's..................... 15,000,000 " 18 Pitch Square work 600 Short tram ,, ... Estimated quantity, level, free 6. COLLING WOOD. Wallsend ... 50,000,000 Four 2 Bituminous Longwall 60 (Self-acting incline and tram 2½ miles to Wharf 7. West WANGANui..................... One 4½ Pitch " 650 Tram to Wharf ................. 8. BULLer. Albion Mine...... " 18 Bituminous (soft) Pillar Railway to West Port ............ 19 Total in Buller district " Wellington Co's. Mine " 18 " " 948 " "............... 12 105,000,000 tons " Westport Coal Co.'s.. " 12 Bituminous " " ".............. Not yet commenced 9. Grey mouth. brunner Mine " 12 to 16 " Post and stall 21,974 Railway to Port............... 7 Level free " Coal Pit Heath " 16 to 18 " Pillar 6,138 " " ...................... Shaft " Wallsend ......... " 16 " 440 in 2 months " " ...................... " 9A. " Reefton ..................... " 10 Pitch " Tramways...................... Used in local mills 10. Mataura.............. " 10 Brown " 11. KAITANGATA ............... 100,000,000 " " Kaitangata Coal Co. " 27 Pitch Post and stall 10,477 Branch line to main line at Stirling ..................... Level free " Shore's No. 1., Kaitangata ................. " " 3ft. 9in. " " 1,872 12.Tokomairiro.................. 50 ,000 ,000 " " Bruce Co.'s Mine " 10 " Room and rance 1,583 " Real Mack ay ........... " 25 " Quarry 306 Cartage 5 miles 13. Green ISLAND. Otago Colly " 16 Brown Room and rance 2,941 " Samson's " " 14 " " 8,000 " Freeman's " " 16 " " 6,006 " Walton Park " " 16 " " 16,000 " Saddle Hill " 50,000,000 " 19½ " " 4,000 Short tram to railway ........... Tunnels and shafts 14. Shag Point 1,000,000 " 8 to 10 " Post and stall 2,622 Short tramway to Harbour 15. OAmAru. Prince Alfred Two 9 " " 2,045 " Awamoko One 3 " " 400 " St. Andrews Two 10 " Room and ranee 50 16.Mt. Somers One 14 " Cartage to settlers ................ 17. MALverN HILLS. Springfield. " 4½ " Pillar 1,435 Cartage to railway .............. 6 " Canterbury Two 2 " Post and stall 1,000 " Homebush. One 4½ " Longwall 2,235 Tram to railway .............. 2 " Wallsend... " 7 " Pillar 1,462 " Stevenson.. " 6 " " Not a sale pit

Coal Mines. Table of Reference.

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A Map of the Colony of New Zealand showing Positions of Coal Areas and Deposits of Iron-Ore

A Map of the Colony of New Zealand showing Positions of Coal Areas and Deposits of Iron-Ore