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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 68



In hardly any part of the world is such a variety of minerals to be found as is this portion of New Zealand.

To prove this it is only necessary to refer to the "Hand-book of New Zealand" by so high an authority as Sir James Hector, K C.M.G., F.R.S., &c., but it may also be useful to quote from the report on the subject of this Railway, by Mr. Blair M.I.C.E., Assistant Engineer in Chief to the New Zealand Government, in which [unclear: to] states that valuable though land and forest may be, "the minerals are of far greater importance than land and forest together. From Nelson, down the West Coast [unclear: is] Otago, there is scarcely twenty miles in which minerals of some economic value have not been discovered."

The map accompanying the Company's exhibit gives accurate indication of the varied and widespread character of the minerals already known to exist; but it is generally admitted that, owing to the density of the forest, and rough nature of the country, a very small portion of the district has been prospected.

Gold mining has been for many years the mainstay of the district, and it will be observed from the map that a large portion of the country is auriferous. Although some of the older alluvial diggings are supposed to be worked out, the use of [unclear: m] modern appliances for mining—in place of the very primitive methods which [unclear: h] fore have alone been used in this district—will enable many of such diggings to be again worked at a profit, and give employment for many years to men and capital It is also most probable that fresh fields will continue to be discovered from times to time as the district becomes opened by settlement .

Quartz-mining is as yet in its infancy in this district, and offers a large field [unclear: for] the employment of capital and scientific mining knowledge and experience.

Attention has of late years been redirected to the auriferous deposits on [unclear: the] beaches of Westland—rich gold being found there intimately associated with magnetite (the "black sand" of the diggers), and the ordinary sand or shingle, along the coast for some 400 miles. Dredging claims are now eagerly sought for, and almost the whole of the sea beaches as well as those of the gold-bearing Westland are pegged out; the owners for the most part merely holding at present to satisfy themselves as to the best plant to use. This branch of goldmining requiring special machinery, commends itself to capitalists as being out to the province of the ordinary "digger." The ultimate success of the industry seems assured; if pursued with caution and with thorough prospecting of the ground large profits, will no doubt result. With improved mechanical appliances for raising and washing the sand and shingle, the lower and richer "leads" of gold which have never yet been worked—owing to the difficulty of contending with the water on the old system—will no doubt soon be made available.

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Coal.—Though not so widely distributed as gold, coal is found in very large quantities within the district. The chief deposits now worked are near the towns of Greymouth and Westport. Coal is also found at Reefton, Mokinui, Upper Buller Owen, Kanieri, etc. Of late years the output from this district has greatly in increased viz.,—from 55,000 tons in the year 1880, to 322,000 tons in the year 1888. New Zealand coal cannot yet be said to be introduced into the Melbourne market, trough Greymouth coal sells there for 2s. 6d. to 5s. per ton more than is given for the best Newcastle, N.S.W., coal. This is for gas making. The Westport coal is highly esteemed for steaming purposes, and has already been much used in ocean-gang steamers. Quite recently the Chief Engineer of H.M.S. Nelson reported on it very highly as a steam coal, and the Calliope incident is to recent and well-known to need comment.

Three Companies holding leases of valuable coal areas on the North side of the Grey river, are now taking steps to open up their mines and to bring their coal to the port of Greymouth, whence it can be profitably placed on the Australian markets.

The quality of these coals being proved to be excellent, and the supply being sufficient for years to come, there is every reason to predict even a more rapid expansion of the coal industry of this district in the future than has been seen in the past, particularly as many capitalists are now making inquiries, with a view to investing in the district. Analyses of the various coals can be obtained from the N.Z. Midland Railway Co., Limited, at Christchurch, N.Z. A Feature of these coal scams is that many of them are outcropping, and can be won by driving without sinking. Coke of the highest quality is made from the Greymouth [unclear: seal]

Other Minerals.—As an inspection of the Company's maps will show, a great [unclear: riety] of other minerals have been discovered in the district. The only ores as yet proved to exist in payable quantities, in addition to those already mentioned, are [unclear: copper], and antimony. Recently some rich specimens of silver ore have been found in the Owen district, on the Buller River, and the indications seem to point to the existence of payable silver in that and other localities. Also at Mount Rangitoto, [unclear: Ross] there are indications of considerable quantities of silver, but combined with [unclear: d] and other metals in such a way that no method of separating them which has yet been applied has been successful. No doubt a suitable process will ere long to found. Lead, tin, zinc, and other metals, also excellent building stone, marble, and mineral springs, are known to exist in the district, but have not yet been turned to account.