Ohinemuri Coal Mines

From: the Daily Southern Cross, 15 March, 1875

The. following account of the coal deposits in the Ohinemuri district is extracted from the letter of the Thames Advertiser's correspondent, which appeared on Saturday last.

"A great deal has, from time to time, been said and written about the coal seams of Ohinemuri and it will, no doubt, be of interest to many of your readers to know something definite regarding them. As you are aware, there are several claimants for the coal of this district, and one of the parties, Messrs Hennelly and others, have for the last few days been engaged in making search. On Thursday morning, Mr. Hennelly, accompanied by Messrs. Wright and Bayldon, surveyors, Mr. Cashell, and Mr. Smith (one of the claimants of the prospectors' reserve), started for the creek on which the gold had been found. This creek runs down at the back of Takerei's house, midway between Mackaytown and Paeroa. The party returned to camp on Thursday night, and I am indebted to Mr. W. C. Wright for the following information regarding this coal:—

The outcrop of coal was about 12 miles up the creek, but the coal formation was observable right from the foot of the creek. There are two seams overlying each other, about 50 feet apart. The lower seam is about 18 inches thick, and its course is 70 deg NW. It dips to the south at the rate of 1 foot in 4, or at an angle of 20 deg. The other seam, which is about 40 or 50 feet above this one, has the same bearings, and is from 3 to 4 feet thick. The coal is overlaid by a whinstone rock, which is visible above the coal crop in solid mass, and is found in the creek in the shape of boulders. They built a fire of the coal, and found that it burnt with a strong heat, and left very little ashes.

The largest seam is certainly the best in quality, and upon this they sunk a hole four feet deep and six feet long, from which they took out the coal in large lumps. The party spent the greater part of the day in searching for the crop in the hill, but were not successful, in consequence of the quantity of surface which covers the rock, but in one place, about 200 or 300 feet above the creek bed, where the surface had been disturbed by some pigs apparently, they found coal and fire clay.

Mr. Wright showed me some samples of the coal which he brought down with him, and, so far as I can judge, it is of splendid quality, and, in his opinion, it is the finest class of coal which has ever been found in the North Island, at all events. He also brought down a sample of the rock forming a section of the country surrounding the coal. The first strata is an impure limestone, above which there is a reddish conglomerate which is impregnated with oil. Above this strata, and in the vicinity of the coal, there is a seam of fire clay, and then a seam of shale about seven inches thick, resembling kerosene shale. Then comes a kind of soft sandstone, above which the first layer of coal occurs. This is followed by a seam of impure coal, mixed with conglomerate, above which there is a second seam of coal upon which there rests the hard whinstone to which I have already referred.

Now that they have satisfied themselves of the position of the coal seam, Messrs. Wright and Bayldon have commenced to survey a block a mile square. The coal will not be difficult of access. It is only about three miles from the Paeroa landing, to which a tramway (the upper portion of which would of course be on the self-acting principle) would be laid, and Mr. Wright estimates that it would not cost more than 2s. per ton for working expenses to deliver the coal at Paeroa, when the tramway is laid.

In the creek, near the locality of the coal seam was found shale, assimilating to kerosene shale, and on the surface of the water a little oil was observed floating. A match was placed to this, and it burnt with a slight flame, but the little scum was scarcely sufficient to afford a light, and it was not traced to its source."