Open main menu



By F.C.B. VOSPER, M.L.A.; M.A.I.M.E.;

Great as is the wealth of Western Australia in its magnificent timber forests, its wide areas of agricultural and pastoral ]ands, its exports of wool and pearls, it must be acknowledged that all these, extensive and valuable as they are, are dwarfed into comparative insignificance when ranged beside the immense mineral resources. Even the older inhabitants of the colony begin to acknowledge that the future of the country is bound up in the economic and profitable development of its wonderful riches in mineral; and such being the case it is gratifying to be able to point to the fact, now proven beyond all question, that the mining industry bids fair to rival, if not altogether excel, all that has yet been discovered on the Australian Continent. It is the custom to speak of Western Australia as exclusively a gold country; but although it is likely to achieve pre-eminence from the magnitude of this source of prosperity, the perusal of this paper will demonstrate that the colony does not wholly depend upon the future of this one industry for its prosperity. All the base metals are represented in the mineralogy of Western Australia; its carboniferous products seem to offer fair prospects of large profit; while indications are not lacking that at some period not very remote, the western half of Australia may become celebrated for its production of the precious gems. It will be the effort of the writer to sketch the present conditions and future prospects of this great group of industries in the pages following.


of course, must be afforded the pride of precedence. Speaking generally of the auriferous regions of Western Australia, it may be said that there exists one great gold belt, which, commencing some few miles to the south of the present Dundas Goldfield, stretches away into the far north. This enormous zone, probably the largest expanse of auriferous country in the world, is about 1,400 miles long, with an average width of 150 miles, giving a total area of about 210,000 square miles known and proved to be highly metalliferous. On this belt are situated the Kimberley (47,600 square miles), Pilbarra (32,000 square miles), Ashburton (8,218 square miles), Murchison (21,000 square miles), Yalgoo (18,300 square miles), Yilgarn (14,300 square miles), Coolgardie (11,800 square miles), East Coolgardie (800 square miles), North-East Coolgardie (21,000 square miles), Dundas (17,500 square miles), East Murchison (60,500 square miles), and North Coolgardie Goldfields (37,200 square miles)—all of which are now in fair state of development, and in a position to afford the observer some reliable evidence on which to base his estimates of the future value of the colony's auriferous resources. It may also be mentioned that a small goldfield has been discovered and proclaimed at North Dandalup, a settlement about forty miles south of Perth; that the Broad Arrow has recently been proclaimed a separate goldfield, though for the purposes of this essay it is placed with the area of North-East Coolgardie; and that the original discovery of gold in the colony took place as early as 1868, at a place called Peterwangey, in the Victoria Plains district, which is now outside the limits of any of the proclaimed fields. Taking the various fields in the historical sequence of their discovery, we may first deal briefly with


the interest attaching to which is purely reminiscent, but which is of value as showing how long a time was occupied in spasmodic and semi-fruitless search before the vast goldfields of the colony became known to the world at large. In the year above mentioned, a shepherd employed by a neighbouring squatter discovered auriferous quartz at Peterwangey, which is situated near the Irwin River, in country consisting for the most part of crystalline schists and conglomerates, intersected by small and mostly barren quartz lodes. No profit was ever realised from this discovery, and the area was never systematically worked; nevertheless it has the distinction of being the forerunner of all the Western Australian finds.


comes next in chronological order, having been found in 1883-4 by Mr. Hardman, then Government Geologist of the colony. The finding of Kimberley led to a great "rush," but the remote and inaccessible portion of the gold-bearing country practically prohibited the introduction of capital, and from that day to this very little has been done in the direction of developing what is usually considered a very valuable mining district. The Kimberley district differs in the matter of physiography and climate very materially from the rest of the goldfields. Some of the finest pastoral land in the colony occurs within its limits; it has mountains, running rivers deep gorges, splendid picturesque scenery, and tropical jungles, being, in brief, very similar to the portions of Queensland and the Northern Territory situated in the same latitude. The principal mines and diggings are near the boundary of the Territory, about 212 miles from the Sea of Arafura, which washes the northern coast, and 304 miles from the Indian Ocean, which forms its western boundary. The official centre is called Hall's Creek which is connected by road and telegraph with Wyndham and Derby, the northern and western ports respectively. The line of gold-bearing country so far explored is about 100 miles in length; but as the same geological formation continues along the Ord River up to the Burt Ranges, it is still possible that prospecting may yet reveal a goldfield in this neighbourhood, of a more permanent and profitable character than any yet opened up. At the Panton River a considerable quantity of alluvial gold was found, and a great number of small quartz reefs, most of which are fairly rich. There are also a large number of huge quartz blows intersecting the auriferous belt from east to west, and usually barren. The country rock consists of clay slates and schists, and there exist at intervals massive formations of calcite. As these are almost precisely the geological conditions which prevail at Kalgoorlie, it is quite possible that scientific prospecting, which would deal with the matrices by assay, and leave the reefs almost entirely out of consideration, would result in the discovery of forms of tellurium which might prove of as great value as any yet found in the colony. The Hall's Creek diggings yielded well for alluvial, but the reefs in the vicinity are for the most part merely gash veins, which do not afford much promise of ever paying for developmental enterprise. The Brockman district contains a series of very good reefs, many of which are still being worked with profitable results. The like also applies to the Ruby, the Mary River, Mount Dockrell, and other centres of the field, all of which are being worked in a more or less irregular fashion, operations being much hindered by lack of capital, the difficulties of transit, and the remoteness of the region generally. Wood and water are both abundant, and the field has much to recommend it to the world's attention; for, although the oldest of Westralia's important fields, it is still the least prospected and the least known. The Kimberley was proclaimed a goldfield in 1886, and its present inhabitants do not number above 200.


was proclaimed in 1889, and is situated on the north-west coast of Australia. It has lately been divided, for administrative purposes, into East and West Pilbarra, the latter of which follows the coast-line to the west, while East Pilbarra is bounded on the north by the ocean. The general features of the Pilbarra region are low-lying plains of great extent following the coast-line and running a considerable distance inland, there to be met by low rocky ranges forming the escarpment of the great tableland of the interior. Several large rivers, which run but seldom have their sources in these plateaux, and flow north and west to the sea, cut their way through the ranges in a series of deep gorges, the sides of which afford a useful clue to the geological character of the country. Marble Bar is the principal centre of this field, and is possessed of several large and rich reefs. Mallina, Peewah, Egina, Coongan, Pilbarra Proper, and Nullagine, are all promising centres, all of which have rich reefs, and seem to offer excellent prospects, but which are much hindered for want of capital and machinery. Of late a little investment has taken place, and progress has been very considerably accelerated in consequence. Of


it is not necessary to say very much. A large quantity of alluvial gold has been obtained from the gullies running into the Ashburton River, and there are a number of quartz reefs concerning which little is known. There has been practically no systematic development, and the Ashburton is substantially an almost untried field. Some thousands of ounces of alluvial gold have been raised and exported, but the ore resources have been almost entirely neglected.


field was proclaimed in 1891, and contains a portion of the main auriferous belt of the colony. The area over which prospecting and mining has been carried on is about 200 miles long, stretching from Mount Magnet on the south to the Gascoyne River on the north. The first place at which gold was discovered on the Murchison was at Yuin, a spot long since abandoned, but the first find of real importance took place at Nannine, which is still a flourishing centre with several crushing plants and producing mines. The principal line of reef at Nannine strikes north from Lake Annean and forms a high ridge, along which the Nannine, Mount Hall, Murchison Consolidated, Champion, and other mines are situated. The gold occurs for the most part in rich chutes, which, taken by themselves, would yield some thousands of ounces to the ton, but which, when crushed in company with the large quantity of poor matrix by which they are surrounded, keep the average yield down to less than one ounce to the ton. As the reef has every appearance of permanence, and the rich patches, though irregular, appear to persist with depth, it is probable that with economical management the mines will be worked at small profits for many a year to come. Other auriferous patches in the vicinity are Gardner's, Mount Yagahong, Star of the East, Quinn's Mount Vranizan, Garden Gully, and Peak Hill, the last of which being a separate goldfield, and possessing surprisingly rich veins, deserves a brief description under a separate heading. The others, although often written of in the most commendatory terms, have not as yet created any great sensation, nor, with the exception of the Star of the East, paid any dividends, although many of the reefs have been turned to profitable account by co-operative parties of working miners. Cue is the administrative centre of the Murchison field, and was for some time after its discovery celebrated for the vast quantity of surface alluvial gold, nearly all of which was found either lying upon the ground in nuggets resembling so many pebbles, or at a depth of at most six inches below the surface. The reefs about this line are numerous, and some have proved very rich, among which may be mentioned the Victory United, the Lily, Light of Asia, Cue Cue, and a few others. The reefs for the most part are large, well-defined, and undoubtedly true fissure-veins. As a rule, which so far has not even an exception to prove it, the rich gold is found in chutes of short lengths and irregular occurrence, and the bulk of the quartz is of a low grade character. On two occasions, at an interval of nearly two years, the writer has had opportunities of thoroughly investigating the mines in the vicinity of Cue, and despite their occasional wealth, considers that they may be regarded as likely to average under rather than over one ounce to the ton. The Day Dawn, Cuddingwarra, and Mainland are practically replications of Cue, with the difference that at Mainland and Cuddingwarra the rich patches appear to occur with greater frequency. In the midst of Lake Austin is situated the island, a bold ridge of metamorphic rock, the axis of which consists of a huge lode of silicious limestone. There are several excellent reefs on this island from which a large quantity of gold has been from time to time obtained, although it has all the patchy characteristics of the rest of the Murchison. The island, however, appears to have one resource which in the rest of the field, Mount Magnet excepted, is lacking. The large outcrops of ironstone which occur in considerable numbers, together with the character of the country rocks beneath the surface, seem to indicate that large auriferous lodes may yet be unearthed, equal in quality and size to those now being worked so successfully in the southern goldfields. At Mount Magnet and its satellite Lennonville a similar state of things prevails, and I have long regarded the Mount Magnet district as likely to become the Kalgoorlie of the north, once proper attention is paid to the numerous ferruginous lodes. Taking the Murchison field as a whole, it may be said that its reefs are low grade; but, as has been shown in the case of the Morning Star and other properties, capable of paying handsomely under proper management. The writer predicted an average return of 1 oz. to the ton for the Murchison mines on his last visit nearly two years ago—a prognosis which at the time created a considerable outcry, but which has been amply verified by the official returns, which up to the present credit the whole field with an average of 1 oz. 2 dwts. per ton. If the returns from the Yalgoo, East Murchison, and Gascoyne fields, which, although distinct, are now ranked as part of the Murchison output, were deducted, it would be seen that the author's estimate was rather too generous than otherwise. Before leaving this part of the colony a few words on


the richest area in the north, may be of interest. Peak Hill has quite recently been proclaimed a goldfield, although it has been worked with great success for over three years. It is at once the smallest and the wealthiest of the Western Australian fields. It is so circumscribed in area that from the town well every mine is within gunshot. The goldfield really appears to consist of the site of an ancient lake, surrounded by high hills of metamorphic rocks, through which ramify huge bars of quartzite. The surface of this lacustrine deposit was very rich in alluvial gold. Beneath the surface, Messrs. Wilson, Enright, and party, the fortunate discoverers, came upon a large bed of ferruginous breccia of irregular thickness, but carrying gold in large quantities. Beneath this, again, an immense bed of kaolin was unearthed, through which was found to permeate a great number of quartz veins which were wonderfully rich in coarse gold, while the kaolin on either side of these leaders for an indefinite distance was also found to carry gold in great abundance. Further investigation has gone to show that the whole of the lake bed, from the surface to an unknown depth, is payably auriferous, although up to the present, owing to the poverty of the prospectors, only the very best ore has been treated. What this is like may be gathered from the fact that 2,261 tons have been crushed for a yield of 14,571 ozs., an average for the whole field of 4.77 ozs. Some of the yields can only be described by the hackneyed word "phenomenal." Thus, the Daisy Bell has crushed 133 tons for 13.45 ozs. per ton while averages of 9, 5.91, 7.14, 7.87 ozs. per ton for larger quantities are frequent. It is significant, also, that the Department of Mines report, from which these returns are taken, has a footnote to the effect that "From the above crushings one to four ounces of gold per ton was lost in the tailings, owing to the absence of proper gold-saving appliances." All the appliances on this field have been erected by the diggers themselves, and not one farthing of either British or colonial capital has ever yet come to their assistance. Considering these circumstances, the inaccessibility of the place (the nearest port being Geraldton, distant 440 miles), and the high charges for freight, the rate at which the goldfield has progressed is very remarkable, and exhibits in a most favourable light the enterprising and persevering character of the pioneers of Western Australia, whose efforts in the wastes of the interior have given to the colony her present high position among the mineral-producing countries of the earth.


or Yalgo, as it was originally spelled, is a large field, the surface of which is diversified by many mountain ranges and some prominent peaks. Its proximity to the coast also ensures for it a larger rainfall than falls to the lot of most of the auriferous areas. The discovery of the Emerald mine first ushered this field into existence. The mine in question consisted of an unusually rich patch of quartz and gold, which produced some thousands of ounces for the fortunate prospectors, though it has afforded but little to the English company which purchased it. The principal centres are Yalgoo Proper, Carlaminda, Bilbrother, Melville, and Gullewa, at all of which reefs of considerable length and size have been unearthed, with results of a fairly promising and satisfactory nature.


is a huge area, lying, as its name implies, to the eastward of the Murchison. Its principal centres are Lawler's, Lake Darlot, and Mount Sir Samuel. A large amount of alluvial has been obtained from the two first-named places. Among the numerous quartz mines, the Belle Vue and Mount Sir Samuel are well spoken of, while the East Murchison United, the only property possessing a battery, has been crushing regularly with highly satisfactory results. We now come to the great southern group of goldfields, which have proved the principal source of the gold output of Western Australia, as well as the main origin of her present high state of prosperity. The first of these in the order of discovery was


a title which for a long time was applied to the entire group, until their increasing importance rendered subdivision necessary. The history of the find was sufficiently remarkable, and will be found elsewhere in the pages of this work. The Yilgarn gold belt, which may be described as the southern continuation of the Murchison, is situated about 160 miles east of York, in the midst of undulating plains of sand and ferruginous soils, scantily clothed with vegetation, possessing no watercourses or features of interest, except a few salt lakes, and to all intents and purposes a desert. The reefs at Yilgarn occur in a low range, or upheaval of metamorphic rock, which contains a number of quartz reefs of varying degrees of richness, but mostly of a lowgrade character. The average, including the results of rich specimen patches, is only 1 oz. 5 dwts. to the ton, and in recent yields this has sensibly diminished. This diminution is unlikely to continue, however, as some of the mines are improving with depth. Several of the mines which give from 8 dwts. to 14 dwts. to the ton have paid dividends for some years past, which shows that even in country where fresh water does not exist and salt water is scarce proper management can produce excellent results. Golden Valley, Hope's Hill, Blackborne's, Jacolletti, Parker's Range, and Mount Jackson are the outside centres; but the "capital," Southern Cross, is the only place where the mines are as yet producing regularly. The author is of opinion that a good future awaits the Yilgarn field, which has been deferred owing to the superior attractions of the goldfields further east having diverted the fertilising stream of capital for the time being.


the capital of the auriferous regions of Western Australia and the scene of Bayley's wonderful discovery, lies 116 miles east of the Cross. Although the desert country runs out a long way beyond Yilgarn, timber is plentiful around Coolgardie, and as far beyond it to the eastward as the country has been explored. The city of Coolgardie itself is picturesquely situated on a tableland which culminates at Mount Burges, in a whale-backed mountain, having an altitude of over 2,000 feet. In the early days of Coolgardie the alluvial diggings were very rich, while Bayley's Reward mine eclipsed all previous records for the marvellous wealth of its ore. The alluvial is still being worked in patches, but Bayley's itself is under a cloud, the result, it is asserted, of circumstances in which the actual worth of the mine itself plays a very inconsiderable part. Certainly there must be some life left in the property yet, seeing that the last crushing yielded 708 ozs. from a little over 4 cwt. of stone. Twelve miles to the south of Coolgardie is the scene of the Londonderry find, at once one of the most sensational and at the same time disappointing discoveries known in the annals of gold mining. The Wealth of Nations was a mine of similar character, and is situated forty-five miles north-west of Coolgardie. Both these mines owed their fame to enormously rich patches of ore which have now been exhausted. The mines are being worked still, and both are turning out excellent properties of average quality; but the Londonderry can never be expected to pay dividends on its present over-inflated capital; while the Wealth of Nations, which is capitalised in better proportion to its value, is hampered by the total absence of water in its neighbourhood. Other rich mines in the Coolgardie field are Burbanks, Burbank's Grand Junction, The Australasia, Lady Loch, King Solomon, Golden Dyke Junction, New Victoria South, Vale of Coolgardie, McPherson's Flagstaff, Gleeson's Queensland Development, Herbert, New Victoria Consols, West Australian Proprietary, Cement, Ophir, Premier, Mexico, Great Czar, and Elvin—all of which are now crushing as often as the limited supplies of water will allow, and are returning very satisfactory results. In addition to these wealthy mines, in themselves sufficient to keep Coolgardie well to the front, there are many very large lodes of low-grade matrix, the average yield of which is from 15 dwts. to 1 oz. to the ton. Among these, the most prominent are the Clyde, United Gold Reefs, Rosehill, Mount Rowe, Sydenham, United Britons, Armidale, Britons South, De Beers, Mount Morgan, Easter Gift, Great Coolgardie, Lady Mary, Lady Hampton Line, Golden Bar, Empress of Coolgardie, Lady Charlotte, Mount Burges, Westralia, First Find, Bendigo-Coolgardie, and about fifty others, which contain enough gold and have sufficient ore to make the place a second Johannesburg. The reefs for the most part are very much broken and faulted, and contain rich chutes and patches at the breaks or junctions with the lower grade transversal lodes, which belong to the low-grade order, and will in the future prove to be the mainstay of Coolgardie. The present average yield of Coolgardie ore is 1 oz. 19.6 dwts. to the ton; but the writer is of opinion that this will yet be reduced to about the ounce average, at which the mines can be made to pay well; while the immense masses of ore of this quality, in some cases ranging as high as 60 feet thick, will ensure a very large output of gold. The extraordinarily rich lodes now being worked at Kalgoorlie have for the time led to some neglect of Coolgardie; but from a thorough knowledge of the field, the writer has not the smallest apprehension as to the wealth and permanence of this portion of the great auriferous belt. Coolgardie itself is the largest inland town of Western Australia, having a population within the municipal boundaries of 12,000, which the suburbs increase to about 20,000. The outside centres are Londonderry, Gibraltar, Bullabulling, Dunnsville, Kurtanalling, Kintore, Forty-Five Mile, and Siberia, all of which possess mines of considerable value. Throughout the Coolgardie field the rocks and lodes are rich in rare mineralogical combinations and simple specimens, and a little investigation shows the country to contain almost every known mineral.

Lignite and carbonaceous fossiliferous shales have recently been discovered; the much-talked of "telluride" has been found in small quantities about two miles from the town; silver, lead, copper, and graphite are frequently encountered; while the inferior sorts of precious stones, such as agate, jasper, chalcedony, garnet, chrysoprase, and opal are met with; the last named being frequently found in veins permeating solid quartz. Some of these minerals carry gold, and the author has received specimens of agate, jasper, and chrysoprase carrying visible gold. Asbestos, mica, actinolite, and sheelite are also among the products of this remarkable district, which constitutes a perfect natural museum and a veritable happy hunting-ground for the mineralogist and the collector.


is at once the smallest and richest of the southern goldfields. It is another Peak Hill on a vastly larger scale, and the mention of its great mines, such as the Great Boulder, Brown Hill, Lake View, Ivanhoe, Great Boulder Perseverance, Block Forty Five, and a host of others, is sufficient to conjure up a vision which renders a treatise quite unnecessary. To do the field of East Coolgardie even scanty justice a volume would have to be written, but the place is happily so well known that such an effort would be almost unnecessary, though it could in the hands of a capable scientist be made profoundly interesting. Let it suffice to say that there exists an area of about two squares in the centre of the East Coolgardie field, which is probably the wealthiest area of ground on the earth's surface. Three gigantic main lodes, enormously rich in gold, traverse this area from south to north, upon which are situated the mines which have made the name of Kalgoorlie famous. North of the Crœsus and south of the Hannan's Star the prospects are not so promising; but within this charmed circle the wealth of the lodes is marvellous and approaching the fabulous. Of late much unnecessary excitement has been created over the discovery of calaverite, one of the forms of telluride of gold. This was originally found by Mr. A. G. Holroyd, a well-known local mineralogist, in the lode at Block Forty-Five. Mr. Holroyd announced the discovery to the world without making any undue fuss about the matter. He recognised its importance from a scientific point of view, but not being a man of booming proclivities allowed the affair to rest at that. Some months afterwards Mr. Maryanski arrived in Kalgoorlie, and discovered the same mineral in another mine. This was made the occasion of a great outcry, arising mainly out of Mr. Maryanski's conclusions in reference to the find. In that gentleman's own words, he declares "that it settles forever the following questions":

"1. It removes forever the doubt that existed all over the world as to the continuity in depth of the rich ore bodies encountered at Hannan's.

"2. It solves the question what the lode formations of the Kalgoorlie district are; wherefrom the unusually rich gold ores of the so-called lode formation have come. They have come from the decomposition of the telluride of gold. Wherever the rich ore bodies of the so-called lode formations have been encountered when out of the zone of decomposition, they will be found to contain gold in primitive state, that is, associated with telluride and sulphides of iron.

"3. Sorting of rich telluride gold ores, concentration of lowgrade ores, and smelting; they are the future features of the Kalgoorlie mineral belt."

Mr. Maryanski also asserted that "This discovery will improve immediately the present state of the market; will restore confidence in the future of gold mining in this colony; and will result in a new mining boom, but on a sound and solid basis." It will be recognised that these utterances are sufficiently dogmatic, and their circulation certainly created a furore, although the "new mining boom" has not arrived up to the date of writing. The conclusion as to permanency, the writer believes to be wholly unwarranted by facts and experience. The history of the telluride producing countries—Transylvania and Colorado—do not, in any way, bear out Mr. Maryanski's contentions. In this connection a few remarks by Mr. James Mactear, president of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, delivered in his presidential address to that learned body, will be found to possess considerable interest. Mr. Mactear says:—

"Whatever may be thought of the claim to the original discovery of the existence of telluride ores at Kalgoorlie, I believe I am not alone in the opinion that the conclusions quoted above are much too sweeping to be accepted without very much stronger proof, and that the last paragraph contains, perhaps, the most striking conclusion of all. I consider it is calculated to do much harm to the gold industry of the colony, that 'booms' such as indicated (already christened the 'telluride boom'), should be started on an insufficient foundation.

"That telluride ores in themselves are exceptionally rich is well known, but that they are invariably an indication of continuity in depth, and of increased richness of the ores, is far from being the case, and only harm can come from hasty generalisation.

"The history of the telluride deposits of Colorado, which dates back to 1873, when the ore was discovered in the Red Cloud mine, and which extends up to the present day, is not such as to justify the statements made by Mr. Maryanski. An immense belt of country, some twenty miles long and several miles wide, was found to contain numerous lodes or veins carrying telluride of gold and silver, but the ore was found in small seams, pockets, and ore bodies, these last, where large, being usually low grade, with occasional patches of rich ore. A very full report of the older telluride mines of Colorado was published in 1879. Several of these mines were developed to a depth of 400 feet, and large quantities of the ore were extracted and treated by the only process then known—that of smelting. The conclusion drawn in the report to which I refer was that 'the crevices of telluride veins are often of good size, but the amount of mineral which pays for mining and smelting is generally small, as compared with gold and silver veins.' At the same time it was stated that the mines of the tellurium belt had yielded about two hundred thousand pounds in the four years ending 1876. When I visited this district in 1884 I found that the smelters had the greatest objection to treating telluride ores, and to a large extent the mines were being left unworked. Since the great fall in the value of silver, fresh attention has been directed to the telluride deposits of the Cripple Creek district, resulting in an immense development, the gold yield for 1895 approximating £1,600,000, the district enjoying the advantages of rich ore, great facility for transportation, and large reduction establishments ready and willing to purchase ores at full value.

"The formation in which the gold is found in the Cripple Creek district is one which seems to upset all previously accepted theories, but, on the initiative of the United States Government, a thorough investigation was made under the direction of Dr. Whitman Cross and Professor Penrose, which threw considerable light on the subject. This report, which is very full and exhaustive, is a most interesting one, and indicates that the specially rich area only covers some seven square miles, and that the gold is very unevenly distributed throughout the ore bodies, being concentrated in veins, pipes, and shots, the width in dip of which varies very much. The gold is present in the ore chiefly as telluride, and the average amount in 1895, calculated from the returns of four ore-treating establishments was for 41,226 tons equal to a little over 22 dwt. per ton. Of course, much richer ores than this are found, one mine having averaged for a short time about 20 ozs. to the ton. Another mine, which had a profit of £200,000 in one year, showed the average ore to be worth 2 ozs. 14 dwts. per ton. The average value for 1895 would seem to have been equal to 2¼ ozs. of gold to the ton, and it is known that in many cases only the richest ores have been taken out of the mine.

"A careful study of the conditions under which these tellurium ores have been found in Colorado should be made before sweeping deductions are drawn as to their effect on the gold-bearing lodes of Western Australia. There can be no doubt that these tellurium ores, where found, will be rich, and amply repay the mining companies that are fortunate enough to have them on their property."

Such is this eminent authority's opinion, which is fully borne out by the opinions of others qualified to judge. The fact is that where the telluride is rich it is a good thing to have, the same as rich quartz or ironstone, and where it is poor it is no better than either of these matrices. The one great fact about the Kalgoorlie belt is that the telluride ores are very rich in gold, and, judging by present indications, likely to remain so. The lodes are strong, and mostly well defined, while the effects of hydrothermal action which they exhibit afford the best and most reliable indications of their permanency. It is well that the reader should understand the real facts about this "telluride boom," which in itself affords no occasion or excuse for a boom of any kind. There is absolutely no reason to apprehend the disappearance of the lodes, and if there, the great mines now sinking have enough ore in sight to maintain their present average output for the next ten years at the lowest computation. Some of the lodes at Kalgoorlie also carry a large proportion of silver, while arguerite (native amalgam), and hepatic ore are also found in some of the veins. Many of the mineralogical peculiarities of the Coolgardie field are here repeated, and to anyone interested in mining, whether it be from the commercial or scientific side, the writer knows of no district in the world which affords greater attractions than that of East Coolgardie. The occurrence of tellurium in the ores has led to a large export of stone to South Australia, where it is treated by smelting, the returns being very high. For some reason smelting has not proved altogether satisfactory in America, where large quantities of the same class of material is constantly under treatment, and it has been found best to first roast, and afterwards cyanide the gangue. It is possible that, sooner or later, some such methods will be adopted in the colony, when the profits of the mines will be largely augmented by the diminution of the cost of export and treatment. The only centre in East Coolgardie of importance at the present time is Kalgoorlie, a busy town of some 10,000 inhabitants. Its site has been unfortunately chosen, and it is far from being a desirable place of residence. In order to meet the wishes of those who wish to reside closer to the mines a new town has been laid out near the Great Boulder mine, to which a railway is now being constructed, and it is anticipated that the new town will in course of time absorb a large proportion of the population.


is the immense auriferous area lying to the east, north, and south of the East Coolgardie field, the chief centre of which is Kanowna, and which for the purposes of this article embraces also the Broad Arrow Goldfield, although that property forms an independent district. Commencing at the southern end of this region we have Bulong, a flourishing little town, forming the centre of an exceedingly prosperous and hopeful-looking district. The lodes here are of great size, and bear a striking resemblance to those of East Coolgardie. Perhaps the most notable mines in the district are the Queen Margaret, Melbourne United and Great Eastern, all of which are exceedingly rich in gold. In the opinion of experts Bulong bids fair to one day rival Kalgoorlie, as development is proceeding on the same lines and leading to very similar results. Seven miles north-west is Ballajundi, a fine lode mining district, and evidently a continuation of the Bulong belt. Seven miles east is Goombalga, or Taurus, a very promising reefing district, with one mine—the Ophir—crushing regularly. Southward is Mount Monger, famous for its geological peculiarities. Not far from Bulong is situated Lake Yindarlgooda, on which waterworks have recently been erected, where water is pumped to the top of Mount Stuart, a high peak in the neighhourhood, and thence reticulated over the district for mining and domestic purposes. An ore tramway is also in course of construction, and will be used to convey ore to a large battery on the shores of the lake, which contains at all times an abundance of water, sometimes fresh, but more generally salt, according to the season and the rainfall. Some of the mines at Bulong also possess batteries of their own, which have lately commenced crushing, with results which are highly satisfactory. Kanowna is situated some sixteen miles north-west of Bulong, and is the centre of administration. There are several well defined lines of reef here, and the mines are better developed than at any other place in North-East Coolgardie. The crushings from this neighbourhood are good on the average, and some of the mines are already on the dividend list. Kanowna is a most pleasant little town, well kept and well managed, and certain to increase in size as soon as it obtains railway communication, for which tenders are already called for. The mines are sufficient to ensure it permanence and prosperity, and compare more than favourably with other centres. There are numerous subsidiary centres, such as the Six-Mile, Penny's Find, the Hodgkinson, and Gordon, the most important being the last named, where an immense lode is being operated on by the General Gordon, General Wolseley, and about a dozen other mines. Gordon is blessed with two mountains and a large lake, which render it much more picturesque than the average mining town. Mulgarrie and Hayes' New Find are also in the Kanowna district, and at the latter place the writer has seen some of the richest, most regular, and consistent gold-bearing reefs that exist in the colony. No capital has been invested at Hayes', which is unfortunate for capital, as there are few districts more likely to repay it. Kurnalpi lies furthest east of the towns in this district. It was formerly the richest alluvial district in Western Australia, and although not so prosperous to-day is still the centre of a rich district, wherein rich reefs are mined which have been proved able to support their owners without extraneous aid. The Broad Arrow district is one likely to forge ahead very shortly. Both reefs and lodes occur in great abundance, and the belt so far opened up is over twenty miles long. At Broad Arrow town is situated the famous Hill End mine, which for a long time yielded over 16 ozs. of gold to the ton crushed. An almost continuous belt of mines, some of which are in a very forward state of development, extends from Smithfield on the south through Paddington, the Dead Finish and Broad Arrow to Bardoc on the north, a distance of nearly twenty miles. The lodes are everywhere of great size, and in places very rich. The Black Flag district is ten miles westward, and is the scene of many successful undertakings. The fashionable telluride has been discovered at the Credo mine at Black Flag, and at Broad Arrow and Bulong. The district is exceptionally well watered, there being a large number of large salt lakes within its boundaries. The average yield of North-East Coolgardie has been very high, totalling 2 ozs. 10 dwts. of gold per ton of ore crushed. The district does not show as well in the export returns as it should, as owing to the lack of banking facilities a large portion of the gold is conveyed to Kalgoorlie and credited to East Coolgardie. Railways will shortly connect Kanowna, Smithfield, Paddington, Broad Arrow, and Bardoc with the system of the colony, and will prove important factors in accelerating development and increasing the profit-bearing capacity of the mines.


is an important goldfield, which embraces the districts of Menzies, Goongarrie, Mulline, Ullaing, Mount Leonora, Mount Malcolm, Mount Magnet, Mount Remarkable, Yerilla, Pendinni, Mount Ida, Griffithston, Edjudina, Mount Catherine, and Niagara. North Coolgardie is probably one of the finest auriferous districts in the colony, though not as yet very well developed. At Menzies, however, the mines are in a very forward state, and rich crushings have been the rule for a long time past, while very rich patches have been common in the more remote districts. A large amount of alluvial gold has also been exported. The average yield of North Coolgardie has, so far, been 1 oz. 13 4 dwts. of gold per ton. It is a well-watered district, being in this respect equal to North-East Coolgardie, with the additional advantage of the existence of fresh water in great abundance at a depth of about 60 feet below the surface. The gold occurs almost entirely in reefs, only one lode formation (Hoffnan's) having yet been discovered.


is the most southerly of the Western Australian fields, its principal centre being Norseman, and its port the magnificent harbour of Esperance Bay. At Norseman there exists a series of excellent reefs, one being no less than seven miles long, opened up and thoroughly proved from end to end. The lack of proper transport facilities and Governmental neglect have been serious drawbacks to the prosperity of this field, but despite these troubles, the field continues to thrust itself forward, recent crushings showing that it is destined to become an important aid to Western Australian prosperity. Good reefs are also being worked at Buldania, Killaloo, and Dundas. The average yield of gold per ton on this field is 1 oz. 6.2 dwts. per ton.


The crystalline rocks which compose the range of hills which form the boundary of the colony to the westward are highly metalliferous, and among the numerous minerals found in the lodes traversing the western escarpment, gold has a place. Up to the present, however, no finds have been made which can be described as being of proved nature. For the last twenty years odd finds have taken place, sufficient to show that the country carries gold in small quantities. Of late there seems a greater probability of payable gold being found in this country. In 1896 a prospector, named Joseph King, found a series of large reefs at North Dandalup, and in connection with Messrs. G. H. Lovett and L. R. Menzies did a considerable amount of development work. This find was reported on by Captain Fowler, Chief Inspector of Mines, his report being sufficiently favourable to induce the Government to appoint a warden and proclaim the district a goldfield. A large number of leases were pegged out, on some of which work is still being carried on. At Mount Lovett, the parent claim, a battery is in course of erection, which will shortly definitely settle the question as to the payable or other character of the deposits. Should the stone be found valuable, the benefit to the coastal districts would be very great, inasmuch as the abundance of water, which can he used for motive power, and the proximity of the field to the railways, would ensure the payment of dividends from a 5 dwt. return.


We have already noticed that the colony has the advantage of possessing minerals other than gold in great abundance, most of which will some day be profitably worked. The history of copper mining takes us back into the early days of the colony, since in 1848 the rich copper and lead mines of Northampton were discovered. These were profitably worked for a number of years, but the gold rush to Victoria in 1851-6, and subsequently the fall in the price of copper, led to their practical abandonment. The lodes follow a belt of country about 110 miles long, stretching from the Irwin River in the south to the Murchison River in the north. The lead occurs in the form of cesunite and galena, from which 83 per cent. of smelting ore can be dressed with very little labour. The proportion of silver is, however, extremely small. The copper lodes are almost equally rich, and occur in the forms of azurite and malachite near the surface, which at depths are changed for chalco pyrites, covelline, and copper glance. At Kimberley, Mount Barren (on the northern coast, about 120 miles east of Albany), at Wongan Hills (near Newcastle), at Cape Naturaliste (near Bunbury), throughout the Darling Ranges, and at Mount Negri (near Roebourne), as well as at Coolgardie, Kalgoorlie, and various other places on the gold fields have copper and lead been found, but in none of the places mentioned has any work been done, or any attempt been made to properly exploit the ores. Alluvial tin is found, and is being exported from the Greenbushes, a tinfield covering twenty-five square miles, and situated about fifty-two miles south-east from Bunbury. A railway now runs to Bridgetown, which is situated ten miles from the scene of operations. Up to the end of 1894 1,270 tons of tin had been exported from this field. Alluvial tin has also been discovered on the Princess Park Estate, about thirty miles east of Bunbury, and on the Shaw River, Pilbarra Goldfield. Coal is found at the Collie River, about thirty miles north-east of Bunbury. A large number of bores have been put down by the Government, the result of whose operations has been to prove the existence of several large seams of coal, which compare very favourably by analysis with samples from New South Wales and Victoria, the Collie material occupying a parity as regards quality between the two. Coal is also found at the Irwin River, near Geraldton; at Fly Brook, near Cape Leeuwin, near Wyndham (Kimberley); while lignite occurs along the south coast, on the Fitzgerald and Phillips Rivers, and as already mentioned, at Coolgardie. None of these last are of any commercial value. Iron is everywhere abundant in enormous quantities, it being probable that Western Australia possesses more of this valuable mineral than any other country on the surface of the globe. The Roebourne district contains some excellent lodes of stibnite (sulphide of antimony), and auriferous antimony is also found on the Murchison Goldfield. Zinc, in the form of blende, assaying 75 per cent., is found at Northampton, and in the form of franklinite along the Darling Ranges. Manganese is plentiful all over the colony, but none of the lodes have ever been worked. Mica occurs at Bindoon, in the south-western district, and at Londonderry, near Coolgardie. Asbestos is common in the south-west of the colony, at Londonderry and Gibraltar, and at Goongarrie. Graphite exists in large quantities on the goldfields, in the Geraldton district, near the head waters of the Donnelly River, at Kendinup, on the Great Southern Railway, and elsewhere, but with the exception of the Kendinup deposit, none of it has ever been worked. Kaolin is abundant, both in the coastal districts and on the goldfields. Precious stones, especially of the inferior kinds, are frequently met with. Small diamonds have recently been found on the Pilbarra Goldfields, while garnets, opals, &c., are of usual occurrence on the southern goldfields. No stones of a payable character have, however, yet been discovered.


Very few new developments have taken place on the Western Australian goldfields in the matter of the machinery used for haulage, and the extraction of gold. It was thought that the scarcity of water would have led to the introduction of a large number of oil engines to take the place of the ordinary steam boiler. Yet we find that according to the official statistics published at the close of 1896 there were only sixteen oil engines employed, as against 376 steam engines of various kinds. The reasons for this condition of affairs seem to be that oil engines have not yet been brought to the pitch of perfection necessary for their employment in the development of large motive powers, added to which is the difficulty arising from dust. Storms of wind frequently raise immense dust clouds on the arid plains of the interior, and one of these, by clogging the delicate machinery of an oil engine, is sufficient to incapacitate it. Another idea which has been to a great extent proved fallacious was that dry crushing plants would take the place of the old stumper batteries. Expectations in this direction also have not been realised. The number of dry crushing mills in the colony at the conclusion of 1896 was only twenty-one, as against 1,349 head of stamps, ten Huntingdon mills, and four of the Otis patent. In almost every instance where dry-roller plants have been employed, they have proved failures, the larger proportion of the ores treated being too argillaceous in nature to be suitable for such treatment. Despite the statements so frequently, and very often erroneously, made to the effect that the ores of Western Australia differ from those of any other country, ordinary amalgamation is still the favourite method of extraction, while the few applications of the cyanide process have not been conspicuously successful. As against the 1,349 stamps before mentioned, there are only ten cyanide plants, while no such thing as a chlorination apparatus exists within the colony. The obstacles to the successful application of cyanide seem to be the ready formation of slimes in the pulverised ore, and the frequent presence of minerals in the gangue, which are not amenable to cyanidation. Concentration is not pursued to any great extent, though it probably might be with very considerable advantage. At the date before mentioned, there were 103 concentrators of various types at work, of which seven were Frue Vanners and seventy-four Berdans. The tellurium discoveries have led to very considerable exports of the richer classes of ore to South Australia, where they are treated by smelting. This process, however, is costly and somewhat unsatisfactory, and it is probable that before long the example of the Colorado mines will be followed, and the ore be first roasted, and then cyanided or chlorinated. Smelting works are to be erected shortly at Fremantle, where no doubt a large proportion of the rich ores now exported will be treated at far cheaper rates than those now prevailing. A very important development in regard to the economic extraction of gold has taken place at Northam, a small town in the chief agricultural district of the colony. In pursuance of a scheme formulated by Mr. E. Vanzetti, a battery of eighty heads of stamps has been erected, the stone being conveyed by train to the mill from Southern Cross, Coolgardie, and Kalgoorlie. So far, the great bulk of the material crushed has come from Coolgardie mines, to which, in the absence of sufficient local water supply for milling purposes, the new works have become a great boon. Mr. Richard Speight, the former Victorian Commissioner for Railways, is manager of the new works, which afford every augury of a successful career. In many parts of the colony exist immense areas of ground, which have been worked for gold by the early diggers with the most primitive dry blowing appliances. These stretches of country are known to contain gold in large quantities, but have not hitherto been systematically worked for lack of machinery devised to efficiently cope with the special necessities of such work. This difficulty has now been overcome by the recent invention of a species of puddling machine, patented by Mr. John Jerger, of Coolgardie, which has been proved by test to be capable of treating ten tons of dirt per day, at an expenditure of not more than 400 gallons of water. The introduction of this invention will probably result in a greater share of attention being devoted to these alluvial areas than they have hitherto received.


A fertile source of argument and acrimony, to say nothing of material loss, has been the condition of the law relating to mining. For some years past it has been contended by those of all classes interested in the mining industry that the laws were confused and erroneous, both in principle and application, and several efforts have been made by Parliament to provide a remedy. The absence, up to the time of the last general elections, of any direct representatives of the mining population negatived their efforts, and although many amendments were passed, the sole result seems to have been increased dissatisfaction. A very handy epitome of the existing laws has been issued by Mr. E. O. McDevitt, an ex-Attorney-General of Queensland, now resident in the colony, which will serve as a guide to the existing state of the law. Quite recently, however, the administration decided upon altering the labour covenants in favour of leaseholders. Formerly, it was necessary to employ one man to every three acres held under lease. The number has now been altered to one man to every six acres, and in the early stages, or prior to the application being approved by the minister, only one man to twelve acres is needed. The Government have lately expressed their intention of appointing a Royal Commission to investigate the whole of the problems connected with mining legislation, and as the outcome of the labours of the Commission will probably be a complete revision and radical amendment of the law, it would manifestly be useless for the writer to give a synopsis of legal provisions, the term of the operation of which is likely to be so limited.


Everyone interested in Western Australia has heard much of the "water difficulty," and, in fact, the whole bibliography of the country teems with references to it. The old bugbear of want of water is gradually disappearing. Almost without exception, as depth is attained in the mines, the water supply becomes greater. In addition to this, the people of the fields are turning to account the great aqueous resources contained in the large salt lakes of the interior. The bulk of the water used for crushing at Kalgoorlie, Bulong, and Menzies is already derived from the lacustrine areas in their vicinity, and as time goes on there is little reason for doubting that the huge supplies stored up in these natural reservoirs will be more and more availed of. Everyone familiar with the name of the colony is cognisant of the proposals of the Right Hon. Sir John Forrest and Mr. C. Y. O'Connor to bring water from the coastal watersheds to Coolgardie by means of pumps, stretching over nearly 400 miles of country. Whether this gigantic project will ever be carried out is problematical, but even should the scheme be permitted to die the progress of ordinary mining and special aqueous development is slowly but surely affording a remedy for the evils with which the fields have been afflicted. Another five years will, in the writer's opinion, see a period put to all difficulty on the score of insufficiency of water, and in one case, at least, the next outcry will be concerning the want of large pumps. In connection with the water question, it should be mentioned that Coolgardie is the centre of the only really dry district on the gold fields. All the outlying places in the south can be supplied from their respective lakes, and in very few instances has the search for subterranean water been unavailing. Throughout North-East and North Coolgardie the supplies of the latter are abundant, and North Coolgardie shares with the Murchison, and the northern fields generally, the advantage of possessing large supplies of fresh water at from 60 to 150 feet below the surface, as well as a superior rainfall, which, if properly conserved, could probably be made to supply the whole of the goldfields. Coolgardie proper possesses one unique advantage in the matter of water. Thanks to the skill and enterprise of Mr. Martin Walsh, a bed of decomposed granite was discovered in the very centre of the town, which contains an abundant supply of fresh potable water sufficient to meet almost all the domestic requirements of the town. Fifteen or twenty wells have now been sunk on this bed of rock, and large sums of money been realised by the sale of water therefrom, but it is melancholy to reflect that Mr. Walsh has shared the usual fate of discoverers, and derived very scanty benefit from the great work he accomplished for the infant city.


It is difficult for the writer, who has lived for five years upon the various goldfields of the colony, and knows them thoroughly, to write of the future in a sufficiently moderate vein. No one can travel over the vast auriferous belts of Western Australia, and see the results of the comparatively meagre developments which have already taken place, without becoming enthusiastic, and having his imagination fired to a considerable degree. The enormous extent of country over which the reefs and lodes are spread, the indications above ground and the revelations below, and the magnificent results already accruing from insufficient and ofttimes ill-applied work carried out in a new country, the greater part of which is a frightful wilderness, and amidst difficulties and risks of both life and fortune, of which the European can have no conception, fill the mind of the intelligent observer with hope and expectation. Throughout the north and north-west, rich lodes of almost every metal abound: lodes as yet virgin to the pick, and teeming with wealth in some of its many mineral forms. If we turn to the low grade reefs of the Murchison we find there such a number and variety of them, and of such gigantic size, that we are filled with amazement, and it needs no prophetic instinct to foresee that here alone is a country which, when once the initial difficulties are overcome, and the numerous errors of management corrected, bids fair to become a second Transvaal; while the rich lodes of the south have certainly no parallel in either contemporary or ancient history. There has never before been so vast an auriferous territory explored and thrown open to the prospector and exploiter; nor ever one which has given better returns for the amount of effort and money actually expended. Such a country must have a great, a magnificent future. Under wise laws and good government, combined with the judicious expenditure of capital, tens of thousands of acres will yet be reclaimed from the deserts; the pot holes of to-day will be the bonanza, fortune-creating mines of the morrow, and many a solitude in the huge wilderness will yet re-echo to the clamour and hum of a busy city. Some day, when wiser counsels prevail, a great trunk railway will traverse the fields from south to north, connecting Esperance with the Murchison and far Pilbarra, and all along that route, which will travel through 1,400 miles of auriferous lands. There will be towns and villages, and the roar of stumpers will resound at every halting place. By the opening up of the goldfields of Western Australia a new and, wealthy province has been added to the Empire. The mythical "Provincia Aurifera" of Peter Plancips, the Dutch geographer, of 1594, became the reality with Bayley's discovery in 1892. To-day, to-morrow, and henceforward Western Australia is not the forgotten, the despised, and the rejected amidst the colonies of Australasia, but the one most likely to take the leading place in material wealth and prosperity. No longer the land of sand and sorrow, Western Australia has become an auriferous empire, which the British peoples may well be proud to possess for a heritage.