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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 70

B.—Minerals which have not been Worked in the Colony

B.—Minerals which have not been Worked in the Colony.

(1) Zinc.—The usually-found ore of this metal is the sulphide, or zinc blende, in which form it is not uncommon. Calamine (carbonate in this case) is reported from Tararu Creek (Auckland), and from the Kaikorai Valley, near Dunedin.

Blende is found in the Thames gold-field associated with quarts, galena, copper, and iron pyrites; also at Great Barrier Island, at Te Aroha, Coromandel, Mount Arthur, Collingwood, and the Owen district (Nelson). At Collingwood the ore forms a lode 5 feet to 6 feet thick, and varies from the "black jack" of the miners, to a yellow, honey-coloured blende, containing 59 per cent, to 65 per cent, of zinc.

At Mount Rangitoto in Westland, zinc blende occurs with galena and pyrites, the former having about 4 ounces of silver, and the latter 5 ounces of gold to the ton.

(2) Lead.—Galena has already been mentioned, and this ore is widely distributed. All the deposits are argentiferous, and some auriferous; but they have not as yet been worked for lead. Among the localities may be named Great Barrier Island, the Thames, and Te Aroha, Auckland; Wangapeka and Collingwood in Nelson; and Mount Rangitoto, and other places on the west coast of the South Island. Other ores are known, but they are not commercially valuable. Cerussite is not found.

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(3) Mercury.—In a country where gold-mining is carried on to a great extent there is always a plentiful demand for mercury; and it is to be regretted that although this metal has been found in New Zealand, both native and combined, the quantities discovered have been too small to he worked.

Metallic mercury occurs at Waipori in Otago, and at the Ohaewai Springs, near the Bay of Islands, Auckland, Cinnabar or sulphide, has been found in the alluvial deposits of the Obelisk Range, Potter's Gully, Dunstan, Serpentine Valley, all in Otago, and also at the Ohaewai Springs, and on the Puhipuhi field; and the writer has been shown a specimen said to have been brought from the upper waters of the Buller River.

(4) Barium.—Barybes is known to exist in many places, but not as a reef. The Thames gold-field in Auckland, Akiteo in Wellington, Opotiki, Makara, Herbertville, and Waikouaiti are all mentioned, Witherite has also been noted from the Thames.

(5) Bismuth.—The occurrence of this metal in the auriferous rocks of the Owen, Nelson, was discovered by Mr. Skey in February, 1887. Subsequent investigations proved that it exists in the native state as a metal, and quite independently of the gold.

(6) Arsenic.—Mispickel has been mentioned, and the native metal has been found in the Coromandel district, Auckland. It has not been utilized.

(7) Nickel—Until nearly the end of 1886, nickel was known to occur only as a constituent of troilites and pyrrhotines, and in a few other cases; but in October, 1886, Mr. Macfarlane, the gold-fields' warden at Jackson's Bay, forwarded a collection of ores, which, on examination by Mr. Skey, proved to be nickeliferous. Among them was an exceedingly interesting mineral, which was supposed by the diggers to be impure platina, but which proved to have a composition as follows:—
Per Cent.
Nicel 67.63
Cobalt .70
Iron 31.02
Sulphur .22
Silica .43
100.00

and a formula of 2 Ni + Fe. This is a very unusually high percentage of nickel, the largest previously known being 51.22 per cent., which is present in Oktibehite, a mineral of meteoric origin. The ore under consideration is of terrestrial origin, and has been named Awaruite, after page 60 the Awarua River, where it is found, the associated rock being serpentine. For a very detailed and interesting account of this mineral Bee a paper by Prof. Ulrich, in the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society.*

As mentioned under "Iron," pyrrhotine was found in 1876, near Mount Cook, and it has in addition been discovered at the Paring. River, Westland, at Dusky Sound, and Collingwood, where it yields 2.98 per cent, of nickel.

(8) Diatomaceous Earth.—A large deposit of this material occurs near Oamaru, Otago, and though of surpassing interest to the micro-scopist has not been worked for commercial purposes. It has also been found in Marlborough, and in the North Island at Foxton.

(9) Asbestos.—Samples of asbestos have been brought from Milford Sound, and also from Collingwood and the Bun Mountain, but none of it is of first-class quality,

(10) Precious Stones and Gems.—Much excitement has frequently been caused by supposed discoveries of diamonds, but unfortunately no authentic instance has occurred.

The following is a list of most of the gems and semi-gems which have been found in the colony:—
  • Amethyst.—Raikaia Gorge, Canterbury.
  • Bloodstones (inferior).—Canterbury and Herbertville.
  • Corundum.—A large sapphire was forwarded from Collingwood, Nelson, but it was so fissured as to be useless as a gem, Some stones forwarded from Rimu, Hokitika, by Mr. W. Goodlett in March, 1892, were determined by Prof. Ulrich as true Oriental rubies.
  • Emeralds have been determined in a pyrrhotiniferous quartz from Dusky Sounds Otago.
  • Gahnite has been found at Stewart Island.
  • Garnets are very plentiful in the gold wash of the South Island.
  • Jasper, Carnelian, and Agates.—At many places.
  • Jasper Opal,—Portobello, Otago Harbour.
  • Nephrite or jade is found in situ only at Milford Sound. Boulders are found plentifully in the auriferous wash of the west coast, South Island.
  • Topaz has been found at Chatto Creek, Arrow River, Waipori, all in Otago.
  • Zircons are recorded as having been discovered at Timbrills Gully, and in biotite rock from Doubtful Inlet, Otago.
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Compared with the export of gold the value of the minerals mentioned in this portion of the paper is no doubt small, but the list given serves to show that the resources of the colony are at any rate exceedingly varied. Surprise may be felt that the result in so many cases has been nothing but disappointment, and the reason is naturally sought. It is the writer ventures to think, to be found in several directions. In the first place, it is not easy in a new country in mating any unusual departure in mining to obtain all the skilled labour and direction which are so necessary. Those investors who have been accustomed to gold-mining ventures have learned to expect an immediate return, and any delay—whether owing to difficulties in treatment, scarcity of market, or any other cause—may cheek the regrettable excitement so often attendant on such enterprises, and land the company in liquidation.

New Zealand is a recently settled and sparsely populated country. Among its inhabitants are men whose lives have seen many changes, and whose occupations have been various. Concurrently with other employments they may have taken up, without any previous knowledge, the pursuit of mining, and may doubtless have not only ruined themselves financially, but cast the shadow of failure on what might have been, if rightly conducted, a successful speculation.

Again, money is scarce, calls are frequent, and unscrupulous promoters are not entirely unknown.

The country is rough and wages are high, as is also the price of provisions. Small wonder therefore that though the stores of mineral riches are plentiful and varied, many disastrous failures have already been chronicled. For the large population which the colony is adapted to, and which it must sooner or later support, the minerals placed in its mountains and valleys must prove a rich inheritance.

* Vol. xlvi., 1890, page 619.