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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29



The valuable coal seams of this Province offer the third inducement for the construction of this line. Already the output of the Brunner mine is considerable, whilst the coal is admitted to be of excellent quality. The want of any outlet, otherwise than by small steamers over the Greymouth bar, alone prevents this mine from supplanting the New South Wales coal in the market altogether. The inducements relied upon by you for making the Amberly-Brunnerton line are land and coal, and you yourself estimate the coal traffic at 1000 tons weekly. If the Brunner coal can be profitably carried by rail to Lyttelton over the dividing range of the Island, then it can be more profitably carried to Nelson along a line with much easier gradients. Mr. Wrigg's report estimated the annual profit of the Brunuer mine at £30,000. Mr. Dartnall's report of 1871 says the Brunner mine coke will command a higher price by 10s. in Melbourne than English. And the Inland Communication Committee report states that the coke is pronounced in Melbourne to be better than that from Branspeth, and they estimated the profit to be derived from coke at £2000 to £3000 per annum. More recent discoveries prove that coal exists in payable seams at many places along the course of the line. At Reefton several small mines compete with each other for the little possible trade of a small isolated inland town. The Golden Eleece, Energetic, and other companies each possess their own coal, and have used it for driving their engines during the last five page 13 years with approval. Reefton is forty miles nearer to Nelson than Brunnerton, and as you rely upon coal being profitably carried from Brunnerton to Lyttelton, a distance of about one hundred and fifty miles a fortiori it can be taken to Nelson a distance from Reefton of about one hundred and twenty miles. Nelson possesses a small but secure harbor, and a splendid wharf, and a large quantity of coal would be exported by small craft, as well as supplied direct to steamers. Coal has also been found at the Hope, a distance of sixty miles from Nelson, and outcrops can be seen at many places along the line, but the present impossibility of carrying it away from its site, has hitherto prevented persons from attempting to work it. I therefore only rely upon the seams at Reefton and Brunnerton, which have been successfully worked for years. But I apprehend I have written enough to show that a very considerable profit can be made by conveying coal, besides the immense indirect advantages of working the mines on a more extensive scale, and affording employment to both capital and labor to an, at present, incalculable extent.

Many minerals, including copper, silver, iron, and lead have been found in this province, and are worthy of development, but we know too little of them to urge their existence as a reason for the railway paying. The day may be distant, but it is certain to arrive, when the mineral wealth of this province will more than compensate for its small extent of pastoral land, and by attracting mining and manufactory capital and labor, on a large scale, may raise it in wealth and population to a leading position in this prosperous colony.