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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 85



Inferences may be drawn that this beautiful wild waste, with its limited area of rich soil and timber lands, will remain a natural wilderness with a sparsely scattered population unless the mineral resources are developed. The day will come, and not at a far distant date, when men of all nationalities will be enticed to the golden west in search of wealth. I speak from practical experience of the country, the result of extensive page 17 exploration; and have we not also the predictions of greater men, the renowned geologists, Cuout Stezlecki, Clarke, and Gould, who maintain that this will become one of the richest mineral parts of Australasia, but one of the last to be developed? The strata in the Pieman and Heemskirk districts has a strike of about 10° E. of N., but in the Mncquarie and Port Davey portion about the same variation to the westward. The formation generally belongs to the Silurian epoch, containing zones of productive auriferous country, highly remunerative in parts, but in others almost barren. Stanniferous masses of granitic rocks oceur in many places bursting through the other strata.

The Pieman River goldfields commence a little north of the Long Plains, and are situated between the granite slopes of the Meredith Range on the east, and the quartz and conglomerate cliffs of the Norfolk Range on the west; the auriferous belt is four miles wide and extends for twenty-four miles S. E. to the Pieman River, At the base of these ranges two large Streams, the White and Donaldson rivers, cut the surrounding strata in deeply worn channels. A third stream, the Savage River, flows through the intervening country, and between it and the White River a long dividing spur extends south to the Pieman Range. This spur comprises a series of tertiary gravels of the pliocene epoch, resting on a micaceous schist bottom, and overlaid by a more recent quartz conglomerate, cemented together with a siliceous binding. These tertiaries or ancient rivers have partly been encroached upon by disintegration and denudation, and the watercourses; these gravels now form the secondary washes, mined at one time with such good result.

The more recent streams rise from the breaks, and furrow othe sides of the dividing spur; and from these shallow, easier worked, secondary deposits gold has been traced to the older tertiaries; but owing to the little encouragement given by the mining regulations to prospectors, when this field carried a large mining population of miners, little attention was paid to the heavier and more lasting auriferous depostis.

The quality of the gold of this district is of a high percentage of purity, and is dissimilar in character to any discovered in Australia; it is beautifully crystallized in deulrictic plates of united crystals, or clusters of the large crystals formed in to suggest . Associated with it are quantities of the rare minerals, iridium and [unclear: osiri] and at one time it was thought that these [unclear: heaver] metals exceeded the commercial value of gold but sample of them being sent to England the returns showed that, instead of increasing, it diminished its value, as the great weight and infusibility of the associates were detrimental to easy extraction of the precious metal.

Only two auriferous reefs have been discovered in this district, and owing to the difficulty of road making this more permanent branch of the mining industry has not as yet been fully established. Besides the before-mentioned metals large lodes of specular iron follow the strata of the country; and smaller veins of carbonate of copper, asbestos, graphite, and galena are occasionally met with in quantities not sufficient to be remunerative.

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The King River gold fields are situated in the same zone of silurian rocks, but considerably farther south, at the western base of the West Coast Range, and are at the present time absorbing most of the attention of the speculators and miners of this portion of the island. The zone follows the valley of the Queen River, and in this stream, and in many of its eastern and western tributaries, rich patches of alluvial gold, shed from quartz veins, in close, proximity, have been worked with satisfactory results. But, unlike the Pieman district, this field has not the promising indications of deep leads; yet there is every appearance of its becoming a rich reefing country, and until there is further expenditure on the miserable tracks from Macquarie Harbour it will remain undeveloped for as many more years as it has been since its discovery. In 1882, Mr. C. Lynch, the first discoverer, a most energetic prospector, succeeded in tracing the gold from the alluvial flats to a rich reef, from the cap of which one hundredweight of specimens was taken and forwarded to Hobart; on being assayed, a yield of nearly two ounces of gold to the pound of stone was obtained.

The principal stanniferous deposits occur in the granitoid rocks, porphyries and metamorphic schists of the Heemskirk Range and surrounding hills. The tin ores are beautifully crystallized and considerably associated with tourmalines and chlorites : they are found in impregnations, bunches, or solid leader masses in variable lode stones. Other minerals are found in small quantities associated with the veins of cassiterite; principally among these are galena, copper, bismuth, and molybdenite.

Great excitement prevailed for a few years after the discoveries were made, and large syndicates were formed to work many of the multitudinous sections applied for and leased from the Government; expensive plants of crushing and classifying machinery were erected before the mines were properly opened out or tested; a wild over-speculation ensued, and before any legitimate mining was done or any of the lodes proved a crash came and destroyed for a time the prospects of this grand stanniferous country.

The western granite base of the Norfolk Range and the northeastern slopes of the Meredith Range have also been unsuccessfully worked for tin ores, but not in such an extensive or expensive a mode as the deposits of Mount Heemskirk.

Large lodes of galena found within the last few years at Mount Zeehan, and reported favourably upon by the Inspector of Mines, promise to become a lasting resource to this district.

South of Macquarie Harbour is the least known part of the West Coast Still here there are good indications of gold, silver, and copper country, and it only requires time, money, and a helping hand from the ruling powers to change this district and the whole of the West Coast from a sterile waste to the most populous and thriving mining territory of Tasmania.

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The Chairman spoke in favour of the paper just read, and quoted many instances referred to therein from his own personal experience in Tasmania, when examining the gold mining features of the West Coast.

On the motion of Mr. J. P. Thomson, seconded by Dr. Waugh, a vote of thanks was passed to Messrs. Romilly and Moore for their papers, and the meeting then closed.