Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 37, September 1993
The following article first appeared in the New Zealand Herald and later in the New Zealand Mines Record, a Mines Department publication, in 1908. The article was located by Mr W A Pascoe, of Hastings, during his research and submitted by him for publication. Mr Pascoe comments that the article was written at a time when production at the Martha was at its highest level, the Junction had reached a profitable stage and the population of Waihi was near its peak. There was a spirit of great optimism about the future development of the Martha - it was not until a year or so later that it became evident that mineral values were not being maintained in depth. The article gives an excellent description of the magnitude of mining operations at the time, for the most part in non-technical language.
PROGRESS AT WAIHI
There was a time, not so many years ago, when the name of Waihi stood for a little township on the plains of Ohinemuri, the chief characteristics of which were blinding dust and driving rain. today Waihi has grown into a veritable "golden city," as some of the residents not inappropriately call it. In place of tents and scattered shanties, rough tracks and muddy roads, there are cosy homes and substantial modem residences, well-formed footpaths, and good metalled streets. A broad esplanade of young trees and grass plots forms an entrance to the western end of the borough. Flourishing shops and places of business occupy the frontages of the main street, and out to the east and the west, and the north and the south, houses extend in thick profusion for a wide radius. Through the town, at two or three points, there pass at frequent intervals trains of quartz-laden trucks, with proud little locomotives, emitting warning shrieks from their whistling gear, drawing them out from one scene of activity, across six miles of plain and gully, or, nearer at hand, to another, where an army of gold-savers await their consignments of ore. In the air there is the continuous hum of machinery and crushing plant, and up on the Martha Hill, and to the east of it, in the plains, tall chimney-stacks, sometimes puffing out black clouds of smoke, rear up their heads. These, and a series of red-painted poppet-legs, with fast-revolving, busy pulley-wheels at their summits, and with the ever-resounding clang of metal cages and "skips," being hauled to, or lowered from, the surface, indicate the magnitude of the work going on in the bowels of the earth. At regular intervals, day and night, hundreds of mines and battery hands - the great majority men of a fine stamp - are moving in a long continued stream to different points. Each man is a unit in that industry which at Waihi today is carried on upon so vast a scale.
THE MINE IN ITS EARLY DAYS
Even to one unacquainted with "the golden city," as it used to be, the bigness of the place, as it is, must be impressive. It would still, no doubt, be just the rough, and not too thriving, township of a dozen or fifteen years ago were it not for the great Waihi Mine, which is rapidly working its way to the very top of the list of the world's greatest bullion producers - a position that it need but take two steps higher to attain. In one single respect the Waihi Mine is a striking example of the irony of fate. Of those original prospectors of the property who are still living not one retains today a pennyworth of interest in it. When it was first worked in the surface levels of the Martha Hill, the main ore-body was behoved to be unpayable, though streaks of the lode were mined for about ten years. There was no cyanide treatment then, no methods of dealing profitably with low grade ores, and there came a time when the owners were glad to let the mine on tribute. Even the tributers could not make it pay, and eventually this property, which has yielded £7,000,000 worth of gold and silver to date, and paid £3,218,462 in the shape of dividends to shareholders, was purchased by Mr Thomas Henry Russell, son of the late Hon. Thomas Russell, C.M.G., for £3000. Who could have foreseen that there was such a future before the mine? And here it should be noted that, whilst the growth of Waihi Township is undoubtedly due to the discovered wealth and potentialities of the mine from which it takes its name, there is a human factor to be taken into account. There would be no big Waihi Mine today had there been no big men to develop its resources. It is one thing to mine reef systems that are rich in gold and amenable to simple treatment, but it is quite another to deal profitably, which is to say economically, with a low grade proposition. To effect good results a policy of boldness must be combined with a policy of care in expenditure. Money must be spent in the right directions, and not unwisely spared. Expenses must be reduced in the processes of extraction; but in the winning of the ore for treatment there must be no cheeseparing in the provision of adequate plant, big outlays being constantly necessary to enable big operations to be carried out, and to enable lower grade ores to be turned to commercial value. It follows that behind such a policy there must be big brains; and that the men who have guided the destinies of the Waihi Mine, and brought it to its present position, are big brained men, it only requires the most cursory examination of facts to prove. These big men would fill the most important positions in any part of the mining world with distinction to themselves and profit to others.
As a preliminary step to an inspection of the Waihi Mine, it was necessary for the writer to wait upon Mr H P Barry, superintendent. The opportunity may here be taken, also as a preliminary to a relation of what impressions were gained during the subsequent tour underground, to indicate what manner of man this is to whom the Waihi Company has intrusted the supervision of affairs for years past. It had already been gathered from those with whom I had conversed in the "golden city" that Mr Barry was held in high esteem and respect by all under his control, and by all others with whom he came into contact. There was some talk not long ago of a strike, but the threatened trouble was averted by Mr Barry's quick, firm, and decisive meeting of the question at issue. "A man who could face a hall packed with miners, many of whom were in a fractious state of mind." said one person, "and who could stand there and talk them into quite a different way of thinking, is a man to admire." I was told too, "he is a busy man, busy every minute of the day, but he always finds time to talk to any one who has business with him; he is very approachable." And so it proved. Literally and figuratively, Mr H P Barry is the biggest of Waihi's big men. He typifies, with his 6'7" of height, the big organizing brain of a big concern. "I don't do all the work," he remarked affably when pressed to talk of his share in the management, "though I may put it that I hold all the threads." That, of course, was the point. The modesty of the remark, however, cannot be thoroughly realised without an equal realisation of the multifarious threads that Mr Barry does holds. So intimate have his duties made him with every part of the mine and the works that if he is informed by telephone or otherwise that a certain portion of a certain engine requires alteration or repair, or that something new in the way of development has occurred in some part of the huge mine on the hill, he gets an immediate mental picture of the situation, and promptly issues the requisite instructions. Yet, withal, notwithstanding the stress, strain, and anxiety of holding all the threads of one of the biggest mining webs in the world, Mr Barry has borne the burden faithfully and well. He retains the vigour and alertness that many a man less grey has lost under less pressure. His mental faculties are as patent as his geniality, though an innate diffidence makes him loath to speak about himself at all intimately. He received me with the utmost courtesy, as is his wont, and without hesitation placed facilities in my way for what lay before me. In a concise and business like manner he recounted that he came to Waihi from Swaziland seventeen years ago as assistant manager to Mr Thomas Henry Russell. He has practically always been superintendent of the great mine since then. At that time the company had thirty stamps erected at the Waihi Mill,of which only twenty were running. Mr E M Corbett was then erecting thirty more, and the Waihi Company had just bought the Martha Mine, as it was originally called. A few years later Mr Barry had thirty more stamps put in. These were the days of dry crushing. When the Waikino Mill was erected, dry crushing was started there with 100 stamps. The second hundred stamps, put in about eight or nine years ago, were on the wet crushing principle, to which the first 100 heads were altered. The full crushing capacity at the company's three mills today is 330 heads, so that Mr Barry has seen the largest growth and the most important developments of the property. And his have been the brains behind all the initiations and improvements. Easy enough to see why he has retained his position, and as easy to understand, from his bearing and temperament, how he has earned and held the respect of his men. He thinks highly of the latter, and, just before closing our interview, remarked that their behaviour since he first came to Waihi had been simply splendid. "I don't think," he added, "that in any place in the world there has been less friction in labour circles than at Waihi. Of course, we have had some differences of opinion, and so on, but there is no harm in a good honest difference of opinion."
THE BIG PUMP AND SHAFTS
As has been stated, the magnitude of the Waihi Company's operations underground is indicated on the surface. Prior to dealing with what I saw below, some attention may here be given to the surface works and plants. There are six main shafts scattered in places convenient for the working of the various lodes. Of these. No. 1 (down 708 ft.). No. 2 (down 935 ft.), and No. 6 (down 856 ft.), are at present the only ones being utilised for haulage purposes. No. 3 shaft, on the western end, goes down to a depth of 348 ft., and therefore taps the upper levels only. No. 4 shaft, which is down about 850 ft., is a main ore hauling shaft, not in use at the moment pending the erection of a new poppet head and connection with the 1,000 ft. level. No. 5 shaft is down 1,020 ft., and forms the main pumping station. It is at this shaft that the company's "B" and "C" pumps are situated. The enormous capacity of the latter may be gathered from the fact that it will lift water from the bottom levels at the rate of 1,500 gallons a minute, or 90,000 gallons an hour. Last year it pumped no less than 417,413,000 gallons. The rocking beam alone weighs 50 tons. The pump has a high pressure cylinder of 60 inches, and a pressure of 110 inches. The plunger is 28 inches in diameter, and the draw lift 25 inches. Although this pumping plant is capable of handling all the water in the mine and leaving the lowest levels dry, the development of the 1,000 ft. level and the cutting of the reefs there will make an extra call upon it. In order to provide for every contingency and for future requirements, another set of pumps, to act as auxiliaries, is being provided. The new pumping gear in question is to be worked by a gas producer plant and engines, which will generate electric power on the surface, to be sent down the shaft, and so work the auxiliary pumps.It is confidently expected that the complete plant will solve all water troubles down to 2,000 feet or more.
The systematic way in which improvements are made in every branch of work at the Waihi Mine is exemplified at the shaft tops. A new type of poppet head has been installed at No. 6 shaft, where 3 ton skips, with automatic tipping gear, are also used. A similar set of poppet heads is being erected at No. 4 shaft, with the difference that the material is steel instead of wood. Railway ore hoppers are placed in the vicinity of each shaft, and, though their ore contents appear to be enormous, they are very rapidly emptied by the company's own truck trains. These run right in beneath shoots, and are quickly and easily filled. Tram and railway lines branch away in every direction; there seems to be communication with every individual point on the surface to every other point. Offices, up to date, steam heated, change houses, and lavatories, blacksmiths and fitting shops, timber sheds, etc., are to be seen here and there round the mine, and the whole of the work on top is admirably centralised.
ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT AND MINE MANAGER
There are between 1,500 and 1,600 men at present in the employ of the Waihi Goldmining Company, of whom some 700 are contractors. Of the total number a large proportion are under the assistant superintendent, Mr R E Williams. It was to this gentleman's guidance that I was passed by Mr H P Barry for my tour of the underground workings of the mine. Mr James Gilmour, mine manager, accompanied us. Mr Williams is another of the big men of "the golden city" - a man of the broadest gauge, physically and mentally, with an experience of 42 years in mining in different parts of the world. In his time he has had important appointments in the biggest mine in America, the biggest mine in Australia, and now the biggest mine in New Zealand. He is thus equipped with more than ordinary qualifications for the direct control of not only the large number of men referred to, but the operations they carry out. The task of successfully developing and opening up a property of such stupendous dimensions as the Waihi is no light one, and could not be intrusted to any man who had not a special degree of intelligence and resourcefulness. Mr Williams left Cornwall almost as a boy, but from somewhat lengthy residence in America has acquired a phraseology which might lead strangers to suppose he was a citizen of the United States. On leaving the latter country, where he was engaged in the great Comstock Mine, he went to the Broken Hill Proprietary Mine in New South Wales as its mining manager, and, later, was in Kalgoorlie (Western Australia) managing a property there for the New Zealand Mines Trust (Limited). He came to New Zealand some eight years ago as manager of the Waitekauri Mine, also in the group owned by the New Zealand Mines Trust, who in 1902 transferred him to his present position. The assistant superintendent of the Waihi Mine is a man of the blunt yet hearty type. Evidently at home in the management of men as well as mines, he has no difficulty in winning the respect of the employees. This was soon made apparent to me when journeying below with Mr Williams. He had a pleasant salutation for every man we met, from shift boss to trucker, and received from them a deference of true colonial style - that is to say, a deference untinged with obsequiousness. His quick decisions, moreover, on matters referred to him pointed to his full ability to deal with mining problems.
We went down the Waihi Mine by way of No. 2 shaft. The swift descent of the cage did not prevent us having fleeting glimpses of one level after another running out from either side of the shaft. It was not unlike passing dimly lighted stations in the dark whilst travelling on an express train. A flash, a vision of men flitting about with lighted candles, the flames of which were shaded in their palms, and of others standing by loaded trucks or pushing them along into the gloom beyond - veritably a whole goldfield in the limits of one mine. The impression of bigness was heightened as my exploration of the No. 8 plan level (No. 9 mine level) progressed. This is where the most important developments are at present taking place. From ten to a dozen lodes are being worked at this level alone, but the total in hand in the whole area being mined is sixteen. The best and largest of these are the Martha and branches, Empire, Royal, Edward, and the Welcome. Others include the Rex, the Regina, one known as the 226 ft. lode, and a new reef (as yet unnamed). At first, what attracted particular notice was the large scale upon which the development work is done. There is no necessity for even a tall man to stoop in his passage through the labyrinth of drives and crosscuts. Many of the drives, moreover, have been widened out on each side, and ore taken down for such a height that they are more like great railway tunnels than anything else. This is preparatory to timbering the permanent way. Some of the stopes were really wonderful, particularly those I visited on the Welcome and Edward lodes. Arriving at the top of the ladder from the drive below we would find ourselves in a vast cave-like place, the further limits of which the rays from our candles could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be said to penetrate. In one of these stopes the width of reef broken out measured 75 ft., and I saw even wider than that: in some sections of the Welcome Lode stoping was proceeding on widths of up to 120 ft. The widest portion of reef taken out in the mine so far went 140 ft., this being the result of the junction of the Welcome with the Edward. Perhaps it will be more readily comprehended how immense the principal ore-bodies are in the Waihi Mine when it is stated that in many instances two parallel drives have to be taken along the lode on the same level for the better facility of working the mine and handling the ore. In one section of the Martha Lode, at No. 8 level, Mr Williams gave me ocular demonstration of a reef so wide as to necessitate being worked by means of three parallel drives - one along the footwall, another the hanging wall, and a third the centre of the reef - the full width of which was 90 ft. for some considerable distance. The immensity of these ore bodies is consistent in the sense that the average width is large. This I was able to see for myself, owing to the fact that each reef inspected has been crosscut at intervals of 50 ft. The largest widths mentioned must not be taken, however, to apply to any of the lodes for the whole distance driven upon or worked in the stopes. The lodes are all more or less lenticular, and no average width can be giventocover them all, beyond saying that they easily exceed anything else known in New Zealand.
MINE DEVELOPMENT AT A DEPTH OF 1,000 FEET.
I was given to understand that the management saw every reason to be satisfied with the values of the lodes at No. 8, the lowest level opened up to any extent, and that indications point to a continuance of good payable ore downwards; in fact, they say that No. 8 is so far their best level. This is naturally a very important feature, and makes the approaching opening up of the 1,000 ft. (or No. 9 level) a development of the greatest interest. At present work at that level is still mostly confined to ordinary opening up. The south crosscut has reached the Royal lode, which has so far been opened east and west a total of over 300 ft. The northern crosscut from No. 5 shaft has reached beneath No. 4 shaft, and a rise is in progress to connect with the latter. In preparation for the use of this shaft (No. 4) for haulage, it has now been specially fitted to take double deck cages. At the time of my visit, also, artisans were riveting together a new balance-bob at the No. 8 level of No. 5 shaft, for usein connection with the "C" pump at that pumping station. The size of this piece of machinery may be gauged from the fact that it is to carry a receptacle for 20 tons of ballast. This only affords another example of the bigness of things at Waihi.
VAST ORE RESERVES
Probably the most impressive feature about the mine, however, is the evidence, which exists in plenty, of the immense reserves of ore in sight. To quote some cases in point; At No. 8 level alone the Royal Lode has been opened up for over 1,700 ft. in length, and for most of that distance it averages about 30 ft. wide. It has been widened out, and timbers placed in position the whole way ready for stoping. The simile of the railway tunnel is an apt one as regards this development.
Again, the Empire Lode is opened up for fully 1,200 ft., for which distance it averages up to 33ft. in width.
The Martha Reef averages 90 ft. in width for 1,800 ft. opened up.
The Edward Lode in the south-west crosscutat No. 8 level is 75 ft. wide, assaying £10 per ton from wall to wall.
When it is taken into account that these lodes are intact up to No. 7 level, 150 ft. vertically above, and indeed still contain ore at every level to the surface, it will be seen that in them alone there are, in the upper blocks, to say nothing of the blocks beneath (which will be available before very long), reserves of pay-ore that may at least be described as large. It is somewhat striking to see such vast blocks standing untouched - being kept until they are wanted. Seeing what a large supply of quartz is put out from the mine every day, it only goes to show how enormously productive the mine is that can keep up that output, and yet have so much to spare.
Mr Williams informed me that at the end of last year the amount of ore of average milling value in sight - that is, in and above drives of crosscuts, and not allowing for the blocks below - was about 1,300,000 tons. Today that figure has, of course, increased. I was unable to get an accurate estimate of the actual amount, but a million and a half tons is near the mark. What promises to add to the ore reserves is the new reef, which I saw being driven upon at No. 8 level, west of No. 4 shaft. For a distance of 300 ft. to the present face this "stranger" has averaged from 4 ft. to 14 ft. in width, and yielded excellent values. I noted the presence of high grade minerals in the ore at the face. Gold, by the way, is seldom, if ever, seen in even the richest Waihi ore. Mr Williams is now prospecting in the level above to try and locate this new reef there.
At present ore supplies are being drawn from each level, right to the grass roots, including the open-cut in the Martha Hill. The daily output is 1,300 to 1,400 tons. The hoppers and paddocks at each haulage shaft are being continuously depleted and replenished, trains of trucks, drawn by locomotives, conveying the quartz to the Victoria Mill at Waikino, and smaller trains, drawn by horses along inclined rails, to the Waihi and Union batteries. There is no sorting of the ore, every truck load from each face being eventually dumped into the same shaft hopper.
THE SKIPS AT WORK
Reference has been made to the automatic tipping skips in use at No. 6 shaft. I was able to witness the whole process, both from below and on the surface, and it proved most interesting, as showing once more the large scale upon which things are done in this great mine. In the old days it was a case of hauling one truck in each cage. The system now to be referred to is very different. In company with Mr R E Williams, the assistant superintendent, I happened to arrive at No. 6 shaft, on No. 8 level, at a busy time. Indeed, the traffic was so heavy that I, being the "new-chum" of the party, was kept actively employed in dodging loaded trucks. They were coming from three directions, pushed at lightning speed by truckers, with heads down and oblivious to obstructions. Bits of lighted candles, hanging by bent wires in front of each truck, gave a fantastic appearance to the scene on the flat-sheet. I was piloted by Mr Williams to a place of safety on a stack of timber, and from thence watched for a while how the truckers disposed of their loads. There was a long line of them, reaching from the flat-sheet back into the gloom of the crosscut. We had arrived in a lull, just when one full skip was ascending and the other, in the adjoining compartment of the shaft, was descending empty. Presently there was a rumble and a rattle in the shaft. Then, with a clashing noise, the skip - an oblong steel bucket - shot into view, slackened speed, and at a slower speed entered the sump below the level. The first trucker moved forward, skilfully manoeuvring his truck into position on the flat-sheet. The skip landed on bottom with a clang, the trucker pulled down a wooden lever, which sent a swinging chute beneath into position; then darted to the back of his truck, pushed, lifted, and tipped it. The ore poured out into the chute, creating an appalling din, and from thence rattled clamorously into the hidden skip. A tally-clerk, standing at the front of the truck, poked with a long iron rod at a huge boulder of quartz that was causing a blockage, got the ore running freely again, took a metal check from the trucker, and called for the next. No. 2 came along, and the process was repeated; and so with No. 3. That sufficed, the capacity of each skip being 3 tons. A signal to the engine room, and the skip was raised from the sump, slowly at first, then suddenly at an alarming rate, disappearing upwards in the twinkling of an eye. The three truckers were by this time away again up one drive or another to faces sometimes 600 ft. along the track. And still they came, the line of weird looking trucks, with their spluttering "headlights," scarcely seeming to grow any smaller. On our way out from this scene of activity there was plenty more dodging of oncomers to be done. An idea of the quantity of ore raised here daily was gained from the tally-clerk, who stated that at noon that day 170 skip loads had been sent to the surface. On arrival at the top of the poppet legs each skip, as I saw later, was automatically tipped, and its contents deposited in the hopper below. The skip system saves a great deal of time and labour, both in trucking and winding, besides doing away with surface bracemen and truckers.
"CREEPS" AND FILLING-IN
There were rumours in circulation when I was in Waihi that a "creep" was taking place, or going to occur, in the big mine. I was unable to get any confirmation of these rumours, though they were very widely contradicted, both by the men working under ground and by the management. When I put the question to Mr Williams he was highly amused. "Creeps!" he exclaimed: "the only "creep" I know of is the one that has been going on for years, and that is the ore 'creeping' out of the mine at the rate of 300,000 to 400,000 tons a year, and the mullock 'creeping' in at the rate of 280,000 tons a year." It will be remembered that, just about a year ago, there was a settlement, or subsidence, on the hanging wall side of the Martha Lode, but that after a few hours the "creep" found a solid foundation against the footwall, without doing damage to the extent of £50. With the filling in systems in vogue in the mine one would say it is well-nigh impossible for a serious "creep" to take place. I gathered a fairly comprehensive idea of these systems. The lodes are worked in sections, and the stopes are usually about 8 or 9 feet high. According to the surrounding circumstances, the filling-in systems differ. In the case of one large stope I was in, where the reef had been taken out for a width of 75 ft., the back section was being filled in from a pass. The mullock was spread and piled to a height sufficient to allow just bare room for the men to stand on top of it and take out the stope above. This principle is generally adopted throughout the mine, and the space left for any subsidence is quite inconsiderable. The other system in use is that known as the "shrinkage" system. Numerous passes from the stopes let down the ore, and, when the particular point is stoped, mullock is filled in on top of the ore, and follows it down the passes until they are filled up. The filling material is broken out from the open-cut in the Martha Hill and passed into the various workings by filling-passes at something like 900 tons to 1,000 tons a day.
STABILITY AND PROSPECTS
Besides the impression of bigness gained by my visit to the Waihi Mine, I could not help being impressed by the stability of the property. The systematic way in which all the levels down to No. 8 are opened up, the enormous ore-supplies available, the huge reefs increasing in size and maintaining values going downwards, the up-to-date facilities below and on the surface, and the signs on every hand of further improvementsinthe direction of economizing and enabling a larger output to be got, point conclusively to the fact that the mine is yet comparativelyin itsinfancy. At present insufficient has been done at the 1,000 ft. level to speak definitely as to what that development has in store. I found that the crosscut from No. 5 shaft, which will eventually cut the whole of the reefs (save the Edward and other cross lodes) now being worked at No. 8 level, has reached beneath No. 4 shaft, as previously stated. When the rise to connect with that shaft is sufficiently advanced the crosscut will be pushed on with, and the first reef to be cut will be the Empire, the large dimensions of which in the level above has been referred to. Between Nos. 5 and 4 shafts at this 1,000 ft. level one reef has already been cut, and is being driven upon. This is a branch of the Royal, of less importance than the lodes ahead. Naturally, the main interest of immediate future lies in the cutting of the various reefs at this level, which is 150 ft. below No. 8, and the setting at rest, by proving them, of the all-important question as to whether the ore-bodies are as large and as payable as they are above. This will be determined to some extent by winzes before the Martha can be reached at No. 9 level. Many more details of works in hand and systems utilised in various directions might be given, but they would serve no useful purpose in this article.
GRAND JUNCTION MINE
A property that has always played an important part in the history and growth of Waihi and one which there are good grounds for expecting will yet have a more lasting influence upon the fortunes of the district, is the Waihi Grand Junction. The areas contained in this mine adjoin the great parent mine both on the west and on the east, and it has been proved beyond all doubt that some, at least, of the main Waihi reefs traverse the Grand Junction. It would be difficult to point out any mining enterprise in the Dominion that has been more legitimately worked than this one. For years the owners have been patiently pursuing a policy of development which has only begun to pay for itself within the last three years. Numberless checks and disappointments have been met and overcome, and the time of waiting has been prolonged. Today, however, the Grand Junction Mine has reached a stage in its history when it is being worked at a profit, and when the immediate outlook is more encouraging than it has ever been before. It is gradually taking its place amongst the consistent bullion producers of the North Island, and has an output of over 40,000 tons of ore per year, giving an average return of close upon £70,000. Since crushing was started in 1906 the total value of bullion won amounts to £143,396.
WORK IN THE MINE
At the time of my visit full facilities were afforded to me by Mr F C Brown, superintendent, to inspect the workings underground and on the surface, and I also received much assistance from Mr Daley, mine manager, in gathering the data I required. The most important feature in connection with operations now in progress is that the main shaft is down 944 ft., which brings it to about the same level as the 1000 ft. level in the Waihi Mine. A chamber is being cut at this depth for the opening out of No. 5 level, and in this chamber a reef has been cut which has, so far as developed, given assay results of from 8/- to £10. Some two years ago a borehole put down by the company tapped what is believed to be this same body of quartz, and the stone brought up in the core assayed very well. It is intended, when the chamber is ready, to sink the shaft a further 50 ft. to provide not only a sump, but a space for the proper working of the skip system of hauling which is to be instituted. The parts of new steel poppet legs and all the gear for this improved system are on the ground. It is proposed to utilise skips of 2 tons capacity. I found at No. 4 level that the south-east crosscut was within 50 ft. or so of the point where the Royal Lode is expected to be cut. This reef has been opened up in the Waihi Mine to within 120 ft. of the eastern boundary, at which point it is 34 ft. wide. The chances, therefore, that it will continue into the Grand Junction ground are strong. It is a peculiarity of the Royal Lode in the Waihi area that it twists in its course from time to time. If it retains this characteristic, it may be to hand either sooner or later than anticipated in the Grand Junction, but in any case it should be intersected before very long. The crosscut is penetrating good firm country, which is known to be reef bearing. Three lodes (Nos. 3, 4, and 5) have already been cut further back in the crosscut, and several leaders of smaller dimensions have also been passed through, some recently. The importance of the cutting of the Royal Lode is that on its present true course it will traverse the Grand Junction for the whole length of ground contained in its area.
Other works I saw in hand at No. 4 level (about 800 ft. below the surface) comprised drives east and west on No. 4 lode (believed to be identical with the Empire), and stopes in the east end. The average width of the lode at this level varies up to 20 ft., and the values are good. The reef was being opened up along the footwall portion. The Martha, or No. 1, lode I also found in the course of development at No. 4 level, in a footwall drive east. Here the ore-body was of good quality, generally speaking, and averaged from 6 ft. to 12 ft. in width. In the stopes above this level, where there is a large block of milling-ore available, the average width of the ore being taken out for treatment would go anything from 5 ft. to 8 ft. Above Nos. 3 and 2 levels the blocks were being actively stoped out, and in both places the lodes were showing good average width. I gathered that the ore-reserves amounted to several thousand tons. The impression gained from the reefs as exposed in the upper levels was that they are being worked comparatively near the apex or cap. There was a tendency for the ore-bodies to widen out at No. 4 level, and the inference is that, when No. 5 level comes to open them up below, they will be found to be, as is the case in the Waihi Mine, of greater size.
I noticed that the method of taking the ore from all the workings to the surface was to tip it down to No. 4 level by a main pass, and truck it at that level only to the shaft. By this system no changing of drums is required on the winding engine, and only one lot of truckers is required. As a natter of fact, one man per shift can do virtually all the trucking necessary. The main pass follows the footwall of the lode downwards, and the process of tipping the ore from the upper levels has made the sides of the pass so smooth as to wear a polished appearance.
ELECTRIC PLANT AND MACHINERY
The whole of the power and plant at the Grand Junction Mine is electric. In the pumping shaft a powerful electrically driven turbine pump is coping with the water quite well. It has a capacity of 40,000 gallons. Electric hauling has also been in use at the mine for eighteen months or more. The conveyance of ore to the battery is simplified by an aerial tram. The travelling trucks are filled at the shaft hopper, and run smoothly to the battery on the hillside. Evidences are to be seen on all sides at this mine of economic working. A very large outlay is represented, of course, on the plant, which also includes an up-to-date electric power house, containing three turbines, air compressors, foundry and blacksmith's shop, in addition to the battery and ore treatment plant, where from 190 tons to 200 tons per day are being put through.