Print
Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 19, June 1975

THE WAIHI HISTORICAL SOCIETY is embarking on a big long-time project to coincide with the celebration of their Centenary in 1978. The proposal is to compile a history of Waihi Mining Operations from the first discovery of gold in the Martha Reef in 1878 until the closing of the Martha Mine in 1952. The history will deal mainly with the actual mining and ore-treatment processes involved, as well as the many trades and professions which these arts demanded for efficient large-scale operations. But it will not deal in any detail with social history, other than incidental to the mining operations.

Three main periods will be covered:-

(a) Early prospecting and mining until the time of the take-over of the first Mining Company the "Martha Extended Gold Mining Company" of Auckland by the London based "Waihi Gold Mining Company", in 1890. It was then that larger scale and more scientific operations were embarked upon and H.P Barry and Thomas Gilmour were appointed Superintendent and Mine Manager respectively of the Union and Martha Mines.

(b) The Second Period till 1902, showed continuous expansion and development when the cyanide process of gold extraction was introduced and the Victoria Battery of 200 stamps was brought into operation at Waikino.

(c) The Third Period covers half a century from 1902 to the closing in 1952, during which time techniques developed to a very high standard and the Martha Mine became known throughout the world as one of the biggest and most complex mines of the times.

The record will include descriptions of the following:- The construction of shafts, drives, rises, winzes filled, square-set, and shrinkage stopes and general timbering; the breaking of ground ore handling and transport, winding and pumping, electrical and mechanical maintenance, surface and underground machinery, surveying and measuring, the maintenance of plans and mine records, sampling and assaying, treatment plant operation and maintenance; locos and rolling stock, power supplies, water races, timber milling, foundry and machine shop services, crushing, grinding, hydraulic classification, concentration, slimes treatment, cyanidation filtration, vacuum washing, filter pressing, precipitation or gold and silver smelting and refining, etc. Mr. B. McAra has undertaken this work.