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Hillgrove and its mines. Part II.

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Saturday 22 August 1891, The Sydney Morning Herald


(By Our Special Reporter.)

The mine which in connection with Hillgrove speculations has attracted most attention during the last four months is known as the Earl of Hopetoun. It is on the western side of The Falls, in granite country. The eastern part of the 126 acres owned by the company is on the creek. It is from this point and upwards that the mining is done to a height of 343ft, on a steep hillside. The tramline, which is made from the creek to the machine site, is 37 chains 28ft. in length. The difference in the level, vertically measured, of the two points is about 1120ft. Very few people undertake the clambering which is incidental to a journey between the two places. The custom is to visit the machine site by driving around The Falls just as I did, which drive occupied nearly four hours from Hillgrove and back, but when I visited the mine next day I walked to tho Lady Carrington tram, by which I was lowered halfway down the eastern side of Gulch, and from the Carrington battery took a narrow steep path, which brought me to a rustic bridge, which in turn, landed me on tho Earl of Hopetoun mine. The Earl is surrounded by several other Hopetouns, such as South, North, Lady, all of which like the Earl, are bearing Victorian capital. In October, 1889, the Earl of Hopetoun mine was formed into a company, capital 100,000 £1 shares, of which 15s. was considered as paid up. This left £25,000 available for calls, but up to the present no call has been made. The mine has been opened, and has one of the best crushing plants in this colony, the outlay being about £20.000. Work has proceeded so far that there are about 350 tons of quartz ready for the battery, which is likely to be opened with some ceremony early in next month. Hillgrove people are anxious that the real Earl, who, as all my readers know, is the present respected Governor of Victoria, will be prevailed upon to perform the necessary work. There will be a sound hearty greeting for him if he does come ; but no matter who christens the stampers, they must soon dance, for shareholders are impatient to have a crushing. As a matter of fact “Hopetouns” have been for some time fancy stock. About the 15th of April last they were quoted at 21s, and as reports concerning the mine and plant were favourable, the scrip moved rapidly to 40s. Then there was a fall to 38s 6d, but this was only a brief period of depression, for prior to the end of April the shares touched 66s. This was the highest point. They are now about 31s.

It is not my business to treat of values. The Earl of Hopetoun mine may be better than any other venture of its kind on Hillgrove. If it is the best, the holders of scrip at present values will have a fair return for their money. For instance, Baker’s Creek has since October, 1888, paid its shareholders 19s per share in dividends, and is still almost as valuable as ever it was. But 20s worth in three years, or the prospect of it, does not in mining justify as a solid investment the payment of 60s for a hundred-thousandth part of any Hillgrove mine.

It is possible that some speculators are expecting too much from their Hopetoun stock, and when it is shown that shilling dividends do not roll out like peas from a barrel, the disappointed ones will raise their voices and cry down poor Hillgrove. The district has ere now suffered from like causes, so it is well to prepare it for even the worst of the abuse in which rash speculators may deal.

There has been enough mining done to give a fair test of the mine. Taking the country upwards from the creek bed there are five tunnels. No. 1, the lowest, is in 448ft., and has crosscuts, rises, &c., to make its total work up to 583ft. No. 2 is on the course of a lode 231ft., and has in all work equal to 505ft. This is about 200ft. above the creek level. No. 3 tunnel is in 40ft., and has a winze sunk to No. 2, 58ft. down. No 4 has 204ft. of work, and No 5, the present uppermost working, is in 60ft., and is cut by a shaft at 40ft. The plan of the mine allows a network of reefs, four of which are reported as reliable. During my examination of the lower workings I saw several veins of irregular courses and variable widths. In some parts there were bunches of quartz fully 2ft. wide, in others a bare trace of a leader. There is a little antimony in the veins, all of which are said to assay satisfactorily. A lot of five tons sent to Ballarat gave 20oz., or at the rate of 4oz. to each ton, and the concentrates left gave at the rate of 9oz. per ton of quantity of concentrates treated. This, which I suppose meant about 4¼oz. per ton, is satisfactory enough. I saw in the course of my inspection of the bulk now ready for the mill several specks, in fact a good show of gold. The stone is not as clean or free from country rock as it can be made when the mine is well opened, and this lack of division may cause the first crushing to be lower in results than some shareholders expect. It is a hard piece of country to work, but as Mr. Gabriel Fawl, the mining manager, thoroughly understands what hard work is, and is a man of untiring energy, the demands of the crushing plant, about 180 tons per week, may be fully met. The work on the mine is of a first-class kind.

The tram line required something more than average pluck to complete it. The sides in some cases had to be logged up to a height of 20ft, and trestles put down on inclines where it was almost impossible to gain a foothold. The quartz hoppers, of which there are two, each capable of holding 40 tons, are conveniently placed. A shoot 200ft. in length conveys the stone to hopper from the mid-levels, and so far as the mine is concerned all is ready for a start. Some materials for a telephone from the battery and a few chemicals were the only “wants” when I was on the mine.

The machinery occupies an admirable site. It is from plans and specifications by Mr. T. H. Thompson, of Ballarat, and has been erected under the careful supervision of Mr. Tames Don, also of Ballarat. The tramlines, three 20lb. rails, are placed on hardwood 8 x 5 in. sleepers laid 3ft. apart. The trucks, which are side-tip hoppers, are from Krauss and Co.’s locomotive works. The winding plant consists of a 20 h.p. engine, 2 winding drums 8ft. in diameter, shafts 8in. in diameter, with strong coggearing, each drum has indicator gearing attached. This machinery is on heavy piers of cemented brickwork, and is housed in a large well-lighted building of a most substantial character. The cables for working the tram are 7/8in. steel, from John Fowler and Co., of Leeds.

The battery plant is formed of a 25 h.p. engine, which 20 head of 7cwt. stamps on Oregon timber horses. Each five-head buttery is has disengaging clutch gearing, which makes it an easy matter to shut off a portion of the crushing power. The ripples, tables, and plates are all of the most modern kind. Two Berdan pans are attached. All the battery plant come from Langlands’ Foundry, Melbourne.

The concentrating plant, which is erected 50ft. clear of the battery, is well housed, consists of seven Frue vanners driven by an 8-h.p. engine. A refuse delivery shoot is under the floor, connected with three slime settling tanks. The buildings are so arranged that the ore comes from the mine direct to the stamps, and passes down from these over the usual tables direct to the concentrating works, from which all refuse passes by ordinary gravitation to the settling and tailing pits.

The water supply is of an inexhaustible character. Dam No. 1, which is 26 chains from the crushing battery, contains 5,000,000 gallons. From this dam a 12in. duplex Worthington steam pump throws water 100ft. into a tank 35 x 65 x 5 ft., from which it is conveyed in 6in. wrought-iron pipes to a 1200-gallon iron tank fixed 20ft. above the battery. No. 2 dam holds 1,000,000 gallons ; and No. 3 dam, which is for returning the water after it leaves the settling pits, the work being done by an 8in. pump, also holds 1,000,000 gallons.

Those steam pumps are supplied with steam from the boilers, of which there are two 26 x 6½ ft., all steel, each having five Galloway tubes. The boilers are supplied with all modern appliances of an economical kind.

A blacksmith’s shop 36 x 18 x 16 ft., an office 20 x 12 x 11 ft., and pumphouses, being also prominent features on the ground, it may well be realised that the Earl of Hopetoun machinery covers a very large area of land, and gives an air of substantial settlement to West Hillgrove. The machinery cost £12,000, the dams and tram line £3000, and there are about 300 cords of firewood already stacked.

Written by macalba

April 9, 2011 at 8:00 pm

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