Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 70


page 20


The mining legislation of this colony has been frequent and plentiful Successive ministries have brought in successive amending and consolidating bills, no one of which—if one may judge from the newspapers—satisfied everybody. The Mining Act, 1891, which does not refer to coal or analagous minerals, is the latest effort. It contains 86S sections, besides numerous sub-sections and schedules, with ample provision for regulations. So that the metalliferous miners of New Zealand cannot be said to suffer from lack of legislative attention.

Under this statute anybody may take out a miners right, costing 10s, per annum for Crown lands, and £1 for those areas where mining is carried on under license from the natives. He may then prospect for gold, even on land held under depasturing lease, and may take up certain areas, the sizes of which vary for different classes of work and are fixed by regulations. Pegging out a claim is a legal operation, and frequent disputes have arisen when it was supposed that this formality had not been properly observed. Any shareholder in a claim has a right "at any time between the hours of noon and one o'clock in the afternoon of any working day "to enter and inspect the workings. If the owners neglect to work a claim and to employ as many persons as are prescribed by regulations, the ground is liable to be "jumped," or taken possession of by an outsider. When desirable, protection may be granted, and the forfeiture clauses do not apply. Mines not less than 3,000 feet above sea-level are ipso facto protected from May 1st to November 1st in each year.

Under adequate provision for awarding compensation, miners have power to pass under or through any leased ground if they can prove before the proper court that such works are necessary.

In certain cases private land may be resumed by the State for gold-mining purposes, and compensation is awarded under the Public Works Act, 1882, as if the land had been taken for a public work.

In all countries where alluvial mining is carried on, conflicts arise between those who pursue agricultural occupations and those who follow mining. River-beds are filled up, and the valuable riparian lands are irretrievably damaged. No class of human industry inflicts such injury on the surface of a country as this work. Seeing what poor ground is made to pay, it is obvious that stupendous quantities must be moved and re-deposited, No sight gives such an idea of ruin and desolation as a deserted diggings: huge Heaps of stones, vast areas of ban-en gravel, with an occasional trace of a ruined dwelling or a rotted flume, attest that the auri sacra fames has not been checked by the prospect of page 21 devastation and barrenness. But in new countries the mining interest has always been powerful and persistent, and Agriculture must give way before the digger. So power is given to the Governor to proclaim any watercourse a tailings channel, and those who do not like it must stand on one side, with the consolation of such compensation—usually very liberal—as they can obtain. Under section 157, any pump owner may claim contribution from owners of adjacent mines who are benefited by his machinery, or who, by their mode of working, may have added to the water in his mine.

Gold-fields law is administered, frequently very ably, by wardens, who combine with these duties the functions of magistrates, and from whose decisions an appeal lies to the higher courts. If required by one of the litigants, assessors may be balloted for and called in to assist the warden, but as many of these officers have had great experience in mining this assistance is usually unnecessary.

The portion of the Act claiming special attention is that relating to inspection and regulation, and portions of this bear a considerable resemblance to the English law. Every mine employing more than twelve men must have a certificated manager, but there are two grades of certificates—the first class for mines worked either from a shaft or plane, with machinery, and the second class for an adit level, where only horse or man power is employed.

Certificates of service are granted, and a person holding a certificate of competency from any duly constituted and recognized authority outside the colony may be placed on the register. Engine drivers are also obliged to hold authorization from the Government, and may not work more than eight hours in any one day. 5To more than four persons may ride on a cage in any shaft, and every pit bank is to be properly roofed. Safety-cages and detaching hooks are compulsory. Plans are to be kept, and the inspector may cause a check survey to be made, the cost of which is borne, in case the original plan should prove to have been incorrect, by the owner. Any accident occurring in a mine shall be primâ fade evidence that such accident occurred through some negligence on the part of the owner. The penalty for breaches of the Act in the case of an owner, manager, or any person in charge, is £50.

The examinations for certificates are carried out by a Board appointed by the Government, and are somewhat severe, lasting for three days of six hours each. Three years' practical experience is required, with the customary certificates of character.

The following questions, taken from the published list for 1890, will give some idea of the knowledge required of the candidates:— page 22
(a)What dimensions of a cap-piece would you use in heavy ground if the drive wore 5 feet in the clear between the timber, and the sets 4 feet apart from centre to centre?
(b)Assuming that each cap-piece had to carry a uniform load of 5 tons, what would be the diameter of a round cap of red-pine sufficient to carry this load, and have four of a factor of safety (that is, its breaking strain would be 20 tons)?
(c)Give the diameter of a round prop of 6 feet in length of red-pine, capable of carrying 6 tons, and to have four of a factor of safety. Show by calculation how you arrive at this. (The above is one of eleven questions, to which a period of three hours is devoted.)
(a)How many different kinds of pumps and appliances are used for draining mines?
(b)What thickness of metal would be required for cast-iron pipes 12-inches diameter, head of water 900 feet? Give thickness of top and bottom lengths,
(c)What would be the weight of pipes in the above question?
(d)What class of pumps gives out the highest efficiency?
(e)Describe the different methods adopted for underground haulage.
(f)A 3-inch steel-wire rope. What is it is safe working load?

Its breaking strain?

(The above seven have, with nine others, three hours for replies.)

3.What is meant by mechanical ventilation? Describe the systems in use. (Nine questions, three hours.)
(a)What are the relative strengths of dynamite, rack-a-rock, and blasting-gelatine, as compared with blasting powder by weight, and what are the different effects produced by these explosives?
(b)Show by figures how you would calculate the quantity of blasting powder requiring to be used in blasting solid rock where the borehole was 2 inches in diameter, 4 feet in depth, and the line of least resistance 2 feet 6 inches.
5.Surveying (Three hours allowed, fourteen questions, of which the following are samples):—
(a)Describe in writing the method by which the survey has been made, name the instruments used in the measurement of angles and of distances. Describe how the inclined measurements have been reduced to horizontal.page 23
(b)Produce the original field notes of the survey, also the tables showing the distances of all traverse stations on meridian and perpendicular, and a specimen of the calculations from which they are derived.

(The following question, with six on arithmetic, including one on cube root, has three hours devoted to it:—)

What are the most commonly worked ores of the following metals:—Silver, copper, tin, manganese, tungsten, chromium, and antimony? Give a short description of each, and mention where they are found in New Zealand, and the mode of their occurrence.