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MINING MATTERS IN THE SOUTH.

DISCOURAGING REPORT FROM THE

TIN FIELDS.

Mr F. J. Spence, who has had an extensive experience in mining matters, has just returned to Dunedin after a tour of the Middle Island and a trip to Stewart Island, in company with the Minister of Mines and a small party, and to-day kindly gave one of our reporters some interesting notes of what he saw.

The party left Dunedin on the 21st of last month for the Bluff, and after an unavoidable detention there proceeded on the 24th to Port Pegasus, Stewart Island, arriving there the same day. It seems that the Invercargill people who are interested in the tin workings had formed a deputation to wait on the Hon. G. F. Richardson to ask him to procure a Government vote for opening up a proper road to the place where the tin is found. The Minister thought it worth while to go across and have a look at the place himself; hence the expedition. On arriving at Port Pegasuß the party had a hurried look round Tintown, the name given to the collection of huts and tents at the Port, and at 8.30 a.m. the Minister of Mines, Mr Elliott (UnderSecretary for Crown Lands), Professor Black, Captain Scully, Mr Spence, and two or three men started off to walk to the tinfieldß. The path is simply a bridle-track, up to one's knees in slush. " Professor Black told us," says Mr Spence, " that the distance from Tintown was about a mile and a-half, but I believe it is nearer seven miles to the top of the mountain, and such a road it is ! Rather more than half-way on our journey we came to what is known as Tin Camp, where we had a bite and a drink of tea, and from that point to the top of tfie mountain it took us an hour and a-quarter to scramble to the summit; the whole trip having occupied from 8.30 a.m. till 1.15 p.m. There is one particularly bad place in the road, up what is known as Greasy Hill. The grade is stiff, and in the weather that we had—raining incessantly—it is a greasy track with a vengeance." Mr Spence says that the party spent the day in looking round the workings, bat during the time at their disposal they did not see anything to justify the supposition that tin was being or had been found in payable quantities. There are about twentyfive men on the ground, and these have apparently been fiddling about with pick and shovel and tin dish. Mr Spence did not even see one cradle on the ground. The men seemed to be merely shepherding the claims; no one, at any rate, was working that day, and it was presumably not a special day in any sense, for the men did not know the Minister was coming, he having taken them, as it were, "on the hop." One of the men exhibited to the Minister a small bottle half full of what was undoubtedly a good specimen of tin, which it was said had been taken from the locality; but no one seemed to think it worth while to point out the exact spot at which the sample was found, and the party could thus form no opinion as to how much of the metal remained in prospect. "Barring this," continued our informant, " I did noj see half a pennyweight of tin on the ground. We were shown two or three inches of wash just under the tusßocks, and in one place we picked up a specimen out of which Captain Scully crushed a speck of stream tin between two shillings; but that was all that we actually saw. The lode is a rock that might or might not carry tin. What we saw waß a seam about three inches thick in the centre, nipped out at the ends to about nine or ten inches. I think if the men working there had had good prospects they would have been anxious to show them to the Minister as an inducement to form the road."

"Then you are not favorably impressed with the workings?'' queried our reporter. "No; I am not"; was the reply. "I was thoroughly disappointed with what I saw ; and from what I know of tin—and I have had experience at Inverell and other places—and from what I saw of the Port Pegasus affair, I am strongly of opinion that the public ought to have their eyes opened as to the true state of affairs. To that end they ought to send down a thoroughlyqualified man, a man who has experimental acquaintance with tin and the working of it, to report on what the prospects are, and I feel satisfied that if such a report were furnished it would be of such an unfavorable character that the whole thing would shut up. It would be better that this should happen than that the general mining interests of the country should suffer by allowing foreign capitalists to lose money in a concern that will not stand investigation. The expense of sending such a man to Pegasus would probably be covered by a contribution of L 50." Mr Spence further added that the Minister of Mines promised to purchase a hundredweight of tin for the Paris Exhibition, and that arrangements to that end were made with Captain Scully and Professor Black, who said they thought it would take about a week to procure the necessary quantity. Professor Black 6eems as confident as ever in the ultimate success of the field, but few others down there seem to have the same enthusiasm in the matter.

The party returned to Tintown tho same night, and sailed in the Stella for the Sounds; but stress of weather delayed the passage, and it was not until the Ist inst. that tho Mini iter reached Cuttle Cove, the first point touched at on the trip to Milford Sound. The Minister's main object in going round these parts was to inspect the newly-cut track from Lake Ada to the Sutherland Fulls. Having reached Milford, Mr Spence and some of the party were landed at Anita Bay for the purpose of crossing the hills and making their way to the spot where Sutherland is said to have discovered asbestos. This portion of the trip had to be abandoned, as the weather was so bad that the walk inland would have caused the party to miss the Stella and remain there for three months, or until a chance steamer came that way. As a matter of fact, Mr Spence got only some two or three miles on his way to the alleged " find," but he procured specimens of the asbestos said to have come from Sutherland's mine. It appears to be asbestos right enough, but of inferior quality, one specimen containing 80 per cent, of sand. The other branch of the party, including the Minister of Mines, Miss Hislop (sister of the Colonial Secretary), Mr Elliott, Mr Gore (the Minister's private secretary), Mr Deverill, Mr Burns, and Mr Atkinson, proceeded in the Stella to the head of the Sound, and amid torrents of rain walked to Lake Ada, were ferried across, and went as far as the second hut on the track to Sutherland Falls—a distance of perhaps four miles. At that point the travellers were drenched to the skin, and in view of the settled wet weather it was deemed prudent to return to the steamer. The Hon. G. F. Richardson expressed himself as perfectly satisfied with the way in which the track had been cut, so far as he had seen it. The Stella proceeded to Martin Bay on the 6th, but found the sea too heavy to allow of a landing, and she returned to Milford until the Bth. Two ether unsuccessful attempts were made to land at Martin Bay, and the Stella on the 10th left for Hokitika, where the Minister for Mines was landed, the vessel herself pushing on for Wellington. Mr Spence, though disappointed in regard to the tin at Stewart Island, speaks very hopefully of mining prospects in the Sounds district. He has seen specimens of gold from Puysegur, Dusky, and Milford, and says that two men who have been prospecting at Puysegur for the last seven months showed him some very fine specimens of coarse, water-worn gold of a shotty character, some of the nuggets being as large as three and five pennyweights. A little assistance from the Government in opening up this part of the country would, it is suggested, be a profitable undertaking.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890523.2.11

Bibliographic details

MINING MATTERS IN THE SOUTH., Issue 7914, 23 May 1889

Word Count
1,441

MINING MATTERS IN THE SOUTH. Issue 7914, 23 May 1889

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