Silverton Company Buys a Battery

You will recall that T.H. Russell purchased the Martha mine and battery in April 1890. He on-sold the mine to the Waihi Goldmining Company, and so had a battery surplus to requirements. By April 30 he was already advertising it for sale. As we will see below, it appears E. M. Corbett made the purchase, and then sold it to the Silverton Company in June 1891.

The Inspecting Engineer reported for 1889-90 that:

Silverton Mine.—All the workings in this mine were suspended at the time of my visit: the shareholders are waiting anxiously to see the Waihi Gold and Silver Company's reduction plant properly tested before forwarding any ore for treatment. They have a considerable quantity of low-grade stacked at the mine.

As they waited, no doubt the topic of the abandoned Martha Battery came up. Perhaps they could purchase it?

The report of the annual meeting of the shareholders of the Silverton Gold and Silver Mining Company, Waihi, December 1891, sheds light on what happened.

Yesterday afternoon the annual meeting of the shareholders of the Silverton Gold and Silver Mining Company, Waihi, was held at Mr. D. G. MacDonnell's office, Insurance Buildings. There were present: —Messrs J. A. Pond (in the chair), Adam Porter, A. Kidd, J. Burtt, J. Fritter, J. Reid, and T. Melville. The report for the past year was read by Mr. D. G. Mac Donnell as follows : —

We have much pleasure in submitting to you our report for the past year, as also the balance-sheet, which fully explains the present financial position of the company. In last year's report we had to express our regret that the company was unfortunately situated in having no means of dealing with its ore, and that we had to re-let the mine on tribute.

The past year, however, has materially altered the position of the company, which, in consequence of our action, now commands a foremost place amongst the Thames mining companies. Knowing, as we did, the necessity of obtaining crushing power, we opened negotiations with Mr. E. M. Corbett, who had become the possessor of the Martha battery and water rights, and after carefully considering the matter agreed with him to purchase all his interests in the plant and water rights for the sum of £300 in cash and one-twelfth interest in the shares held by the company, agreeing that these should be increased from 24,000 shares, at which they then stood, to 40,000 shares.

We learn that E. M. Corbett had bought the battery.

Edward Mann Corbett had been hired in 1888 as construction engineer for the Waihi Battery on Union Hill. So he was the right man at the right time. He was an experienced miner and engineer. See a biography from the Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1902, in the Appendices: Edward Mann Corbett (page 104).

To carry this into effect a special meeting of the company was held on the 22nd June last, when resolutions were carried affirming this increase by the issue of 16,000 new shares, to rank of the same value as those already issued. Of this number, 3330 shares were allotted to Mr. Corbett and 12,670 were offered to the shareholders at a premium of 3s per share. The results were, as we anticipated, an unqualified success, the whole number having been applied for and the proceeds utilised for the part purchase of the plant and the necessary alterations to same, as also for water-races.

After very careful consideration we resolved to erect a pan plant, in conjunction with the battery, and to Mr. Corbett was left the work of drawing and submitting plans of the proposed works; these were adopted, and the work placed in his hands for completion, a contract being at the same time let to Mr. Judd for the erection of the pans and settlers in accordance with specifications, this work having been tendered for in the sum of £268.

The pan plant was decided on after careful study of process as adopted at the Waihi Battery (Union Hill). Mr Corbett was retained to manage the refurbishment of the battery.

At the same time the water rights were carefully considered, and a new right acquired by Mr. Corbett to the Mangakiri stream, taken over as part of the agreement. The long flume from the Cabbage Tree Creek was repaired in a most substantial manner, and nothing but sound heart of kauri timber used, opportunity being taken by Mr. Corbett to increase the carrying capacity by extending the depth from 18 to 21 inches. At the same timber [time?] another race was brought in from the Mangatoetoe stream, being the third water right your company hold , and this was erected at such a height as to come into the main flume of the battery, thus giving a large additional power. In further conservation of energy, a dam is now being erected on the Mangatoetoe stream, which will hold a large body of water, and so ensure no waste from the stream.

The Mangakiri and Mangatoetoe water races date from this time. The Ohinemuri River continues to flow past the battery, unmolested, not harnessed until 1895.

With the view of constant crushing your directors also had surveys taken for the purposes of bringing in the Mangakiri water-race and erecting dams for the conservation of the water on the south side of the Ohinemuri. This has been done, and the surveys show that a large body of water can be stored and the Mangakiri race brought in at a very small cost, and this work will most probably engage the attention of your new Board.

On completion of the agreement to purchase from Mr. Corbett, we took advantage of an opportunity to amicably determine the tribute on which the mine was let, and to purchase the whole of the ore grassed for the sum of £200, the estimate of ore being about 250 tons, some of which is high grade quartz. Instructions were also given to save all ore, tailings, etc., from the battery, and this to an amount of over 100 tons has been stored, and is anticipated to give good results in the battery; in all, an amount of ore and tailings to the extent of 700 or 800 tons is grassed and awaiting crushing.

In the mine the tributers in their winze carried down on the new shoot of gold, left rich ore on both sides and under foot, and to facilitate the winning of this ore, and the economical and proper working of the mine, we have had in view the extension of a low level drive, which though long is in good easy country, and being in the direction of the battery, will connect therewith in the best and least expensive manner possible, and ensure a large tonnage being won probably for several years without the cost of pumping.

The plans and data of all the works herein referred to are before you, and we cannot conclude our report without thanking the Waihi Goldmining Company for the ready assistance it has given in submitting its works to our inspection, to enable us to benefit by their efforts, and also feel with pleasure the confidence reposed in us by the shareholders in applying for the whole of the shares offered, and thus enabling us to undertake the extensive alterations and erections with money in hand to ensure their completion.

We are also greatly indebted to Mr. Corbett for the energy and thought displayed in so thoroughly arranging the new plant and motive power. With the economic mode of treating our ore which has been adopted, the facilities attainable in working the mine from the low level, and bearing in mind the large amount of ore at grass, and the richness of the quartz left standing in the winze, we feel confident in our anticipations that this company will have a most prosperous career.

In pursuance of the company's rules, the present directors retire, as also the auditor, but being eligible for re-election, offer themselves for same. — A. Pond, Chairman.

A confident and optimistic report. The sale of the battery took place in June. No hard sale price was been given, but based on £300 and 3330 shares at 3s (at that time), then a total of c.£800.

Isdale reports that in June 1891 "the Silverton had to increase its capital to get funds to ‘purchase the Martha battery and secure the company's water rights’" . With confidence increasing, the share issue was over-subscribed.

At the end of the year the company valued the battery (including water races?) at £1,770 (see below).

Purchase complete, August saw E.M. Corbett

busy "refitting the old Martha battery for the Silverton company, starting with 10 stamps. Crushing was to be wet, and "very fine", being 60 mesh. (Which was considered fine in those days.) He also intended to have a feature "conspicuously absent" at that time in both the existing mills of the Waihi and Waitekauri companies. That was provision for saving tailings.

The Mangatoetoe Stream was captured, a new water race bringing water to the battery (December 1891). This water race took water from a little upstream of Quarry Road (now Roberts Street) in Waihi. Little, if anything, remains of this 750m race. What appears to be fluming for it can be seen on one photograph of the battery, a photograph interpreted to be of the Silverton Battery. It was estimated to give an additional 10 horse power.

The contractor for constructing the race to bring in the Mangatoetoe stream has finished his work, and Mr. Corbett is now arranging for the erection of a small dam to conserve the water supply.

The Mangakiri Stream water race captured the Mangakiri Stream, taking it north east to Cabbage Tree Creek (Waimata Stream), a little above the dam on that stream. Much of the upper section of this race, and the dam site, can still be discerned. It was 3.84km in length. An earlier application for its construction was published in the Thames Advertiser, 18 June 1889. Thomas Melville was a director of the Waihi Silverton Extended Company , and was present at the annual meeting of the shareholders reported above. We will meet him again. D.W. Bayldon was a mining engineer in Thames. Not to be confused with D.H. Bayldon the surveyor, or Captain T.C. Bayldon the harbour master at Thames . The "branch creek", though not named, must be the Mangakiri Stream. Note also the name Waimata Creek, not Cabbage Tree Creek. The "main Tauranga road" is what we now call the Old Tauranga Road. The water race eventually constructed in 1891-2 was longer.


I HEREBY GIVE NOTICE that I intend to construct a Water Race to divert and use water for Mining purposes, commencing at a point about half a mile southwest of the Waimata creek on a branch creek of the Ohinemuri River at a point near the bridge crossing the creek on the main Tauranga road and terminating at the dam of the Martha G. M. Co., on the Waimata Creek, Waihi. The length of such Race is about half a mile or thereabouts, and its intended course is northeasterly. The mean depth of such Race is 1 foot 6 inches and the mean breadth is 3 feet, and it is proposed to divert three Government heads of water.

Cost of construction: Five hundred pounds. Time required for construction; Four months. Number and date of Miner's Right; 24117 June 16th, 1889.

Applicant: THOMAS MELVILLE, (per his agent D. W. BAYLDON) Mining and Commission Agent, High Street, Auckland.

Reports in the AJHR for the year ending 31 March 1892 gave other details.

Silverton Company.—This company has purchased the crushing plant formerly belonging to the Martha Company. They have altered the crushing-battery so as to make a battery of five stamps act as a stone-breaker. There is a very coarse grating in this battery, to admit of the quartz being reduced to the size of small peas. The reduced ore passes into a battery of ten heads of stamps, and there pulverised to sufficient fineness for amalgamation, the ore being treated by a similar process to that used by the Waihi Company.


The Silverton Company have renovated and reconstructed a portion of the old Martha battery, which they are fitting up with all the latest appliances, and, as their mine has the appearance of being a very good one, they should have a very bright future before them.


Silverton Mine, 70 acres (Silverton Gold-mining Company, Limited, owner; Mr. John McCombie, manager).—The average number of men employed at the mine and in the erection of the mill has been ten. No driving has been done during the year, but about 300 tons of ore have been broken out from the main reef, averaging 8ft. in thickness, and the stuff is now being carted to the mill, where crushing operations will be started upon it next month. The mill comprises fifteen heads of stamps, two of Stevenson's amalgamating pans, one settler, one agitator, and one berdan, driven by a 35-horse power Leffel turbine.

Isdale summarises the annual meeting, end of the year 1891 (that we have just looked at above):

The Silverton of Waihi had a satisfactory annual meeting, with £459 in the bank, a battery valued at £1,770, add 700 tons of ore and tailings value at £2,000.

It would seem that Corbett’s work was complete and the battery started on July 11, 1892 . Sadly, the first crushing gave a "disappointing" 90 ounces (reported on September 2, 1892).

The battery had been reduced to 10 (or 15) head of stamps, run by the existing turbine, and would remain wet crushing. Some form of hot pan amalgamation was instituted. It appears that these modifications were not particularly successful, as exampled above, however for the year 1893 "115 tons of quartz were crushed and 200 tons of tailings treated for 321oz. 8dwt. of bullion, valued at £424 10s. 11d" .

Cyanide at the Silverton

You will remember that J.A. Pond was experimenting with the tailings from the battery even when it belonged to the Martha Company. It seems he was not particularly successful. The experiments with hot pan amalgamation were not encouraging either. What about this new cyanide process?

The Waihi Gold Mining Company was unsuccessfully trialing the Bohm cyanide process at the Waihi Battery during 1892. In 1893 it undertook to construct a trial Cassel (sometimes erroneously spelt Cassell) plant (using cyanide). In May the Cassel Company purchased from the Waihi Company up to 30,000 tons of accumulated tailings, and set up their Tailings Plant. "By May 1894, the cyanide plant at the Waihi mill was completed, and pan-amalgamation stopped."

These events at the Waihi Battery tended to overshadow those occurring at the Silverton Battery. The Silverton Company were the first to fully adopt the Cassel process in Waihi, April 1893.

Of course there was the royalty payable to the Cassel Company to factor in. This delayed the Waihi Gold Mining Company’s uptake of the Cassel process, and may have done the same with the Silverton. The Cassel process was first successfully trialed at Karangahake in 1889.

Thames Star, 3 March 1893:

In the Silverton the old order of treating the ore is to give place to the cyanide process. Mr Napier, the well-known metallurgist, has been at work in the Silverton Co.'s mill, making the necessary arrangements for the new order of things. There is not much yet to report in the way of results, and of course some little time will be wanted for things to get into real working order. But it is to be hoped that the experiment of treating a Waihi ore by the cyanide process will prove a success, and place the Silverton among the successful gold producing and dividend-paying companies.

Thames Star 26 April 1893:

Mr Watty Dance was in charge of the Silverton....The alterations which adapted the old Martha battery to a process—I believe that of Mr J. A. Pond, the analyst, a large shareholder in the concern —was not a success.

There is this advantage in it, however, that there was very little further expense required to bring the Cassel process into use. The alterations are now made, and to-day the mill is using Cassel's process pure and simple. I am told that the process is giving entirely satisfactory results. The stuff now going through, valued at 28s a ton, is merely the tailings of the ore crushed by the old process. The capacity of the tank for the Cassel work is only 4 tons a day—just one-half what the battery can put through,—so that another vat will have to be erected. After going through the mill, I called on Mr Bell, a young expert, who is now assaying for the Silverton. He has in use a small furnace, cost 46s, which is very complete for assay and melting small parcels, and ought to be a boon to Lowrie's and other finds. According to assay, the Cassel process is recovering 90 per cent.

The Silverton mine is not working.

I did not go to the Waihi mill, but I heard that the site for the new tanks, for Cassel's, had been marked, and that the erection of them would be commenced at once.

The dry process of crushing is to be used in both Silverton and Waihi mills, the wet process being abandoned.

Things were not going at all well. The Thames Star reported an application for protection in June 1893.

SILVERTON (Waihi).At the last sitting of the Warden's Court at Paeroa the Silverton G.M.. Co, applied for six months' protection for their mine, water race, and machine site at Waihi. Mr Miller appeared for the applicants, and said that about £6000 had been spent since January, 1888, but the whole thing had hitherto been a failure. Ore could not now be carted from the mine to the mill, owing to the state of the roads. The Warden said he would like to know a little more about the matter, and adjourned the application to the 27th inst.

Silverton Mine Sold

In 1895 the Silverton mine was sold to an English Company. It became the Waihi-Silverton Gold-mining Company (Limited), Glasgow. OK, so not English . The new company was "floated in Glasgow by Melville, formerly New Zealand representative of the Cassel Cyanide Co. ".

Capital was injected into capital works. The directors had "cabled: ‘Go ahead with the development in accordance with Mr Adams’ report’ recommending developments costing £10,000" . The battery was refurbished; 40 stamps dry crushing; cyanide process; H.H. Adams in charge. A tramway was constructed, connecting mine with battery, complete with locomotive. Three in-ground ore roasting kilns were excavated at the mine. Dust was produced.

The power supply was upgraded. A dam was built on the Ohinemuri River, a little upstream from the battery at what we now think of as Coffey’s Creek. The river is shallow here, with a hard rock bottom. This is where the Tauranga Road forded the river, where the mail and a boy were lost in April 1883. The ford was no longer necessary after August 1890 with the erection of the new bridge (where Coronation Bridge is now).

The bed log of the wooden dam is still visible in the smooth flat ignimbrite riverbed, just downstream from the deep water of Coffey's Creek water hole. The dam construction made use of the rocky promontory on the true right bank, with the water taken into a tunnel directly under a present-day pine tree. The tunnel took the water through the promontory to a rectangular tank/surge chamber, from whence a large diameter pipe along the stream bank delivered it through another rocky outcrop to the turbine pit of the battery. These features can still be seen. The pit discharged (spent) water through a short tunnel back to the river. As the dam was not far upstream from the battery (c.125m), and the dam not tall, only 11ft (3.4m) of head was achieved, requiring a low-pressure turbine. A large volume of water could be put through the turbine.

Presumably the Cabbage Tree Creek (Waimata) water race with its 28ft (8.5m) head was still used, with its dedicated Leffel turbine. Also the Mangatoetoe race.

The Mine was connected to the battery by tramway; what we now think of as the Silverton tramway. From the Silverton shaft it passes on the south-eastern foot of Union Hill, passes a little below what used to be Keatley’s house, crosses Clarke Street and Mill Stream at the point of the current culvert, and into Gilmour Reserve. The tramway formation is preserved over much of this section, but in Gilmour Reserve it has been largely smoothed over. Exiting the reserve at the intersection of Gilmour and George Streets, it swings in a gentle arc through residential properties to the battery hoppers. It was said to be "about a couple of miles" in length, but is actually 2.4km. A locomotive was used to haul 1 ton trucks. For a photograph and short description of this loco see the Appendices: The Little Loco (page 103). It was not until later in 1896 that the Waihi Gold Mining Company utilised a locomotive to build the tramway to the Victoria Battery site.

The New Zealand Herald of 7 August 1895 reported the application made to the warden for the tramway. It was granted, but the powerful Waihi Gold Mining Company had some conditions. At the southern side of Union Hill the tramway would have to cross over the low level water race of the Waihi Gold Mining Company.

Waihi Silverton Extended Gold Mining Company, ground tramway, one mile and a-half, at Waihi. Objected to by the Ohinemuri County Council, Waihi Gold Mining Company, and H. B. Barry. All difficulties were overcome, and the Warden granted the application, subject to the conditions suggested by Mr. Rose and Mr. Barry, namely, that mining operations of the Waihi Company shall not be interfered with; also upon condition that if the gold mining company's water-race should sustain injury from the construction of the tramway the Silverton Gold Mining Company or its assigns shall make good the same, and that no action shall be at the suit of the Silverton Gold Mining Company for any injury caused to their tramway by the Waihi s Company's water - race.

Dry crushing required ore roasting kilns. Three were built near the Silverton shaft, not near the battery, as was more usual. This required dried ore to be hauled to the battery on the tramway. Keeping this dry must have been challenging. Firewood was required, brought to the kilns from the Walmsley timber tramway by an extension probably via Banks and Moore Streets.

The upgraded battery was officially opened on 4 April 1896, with a large crowd, and speeches. H.H. Adams the manager. The event was reported on in detail by the New Zealand Herald, the article displaying the usual sanguine (cheerfully optimist) tone of contemporary press reports. It may be viewed in the Appendices: Starting of the Waihi-Silverton Battery 1896 (page 106). The Observer also published a report, which can also be viewed in the Appendices: The Waihi-Silverton Mine. (Page 112).

Inspecting Engineer to 31 March, 1896:

Waihi-Silverton Company.—Since the formation, or reconstruction, of this company, large mining operations have been carried on. Some very rich ore was obtained near the surface on this mine in the early days. A level was driven on the lode about 50ft. below the surface, where a winze was sunk, and portions of the lode below that level containing very good ore were stoped out. The stamp-battery, which they acquired from the Waihi Company, and which formerly belonged to the Martha Company, was so obsolete and defective that the company were unable to make the lode pay for working. The present company have, however, sunk a shaft 14ft. by 6ft. in the clear to a depth of 108ft., and cut the lode at this level, distant 196ft. from the shaft, the lode varying from 6ft. to 15ft. At the end of the cross-cut the lode branches off in two directions; one of the branches has been driven on for a distance of 60ft., having a width of about 14ft. The main lode has been driven on at 180ft., having an average width of about 10ft. The manager, Mr. Adams, states that, for a considerable distance, the average assay-value of this lode is from £5 to £6 per ton; but at the eastern end the assay-value gets considerably less, being from £2 8s. to £2 10s. per ton. No stoping has been done on this lode; the main level has only been carried in for the distance stated.

At the time of my visit there were about 800 tons of ore lying in a paddock, ready to send to the mill as soon as the latter was ready to commence crushing.

The crushing-battery is situated on the Ohinemuri River, near the site formerly occupied by the old Martha battery . It consists of forty head of stamps of the most modern construction, 900lb. each, with two rock-breakers, one of Blake-Marsden and the other of Gates's type, together with a Challenge ore-feeder attached to each five-stamp battery. The foundations, framing, and workmanship in connection with the stamps are all that can be desired, arrangements being made to carry away any dust from either the stamp-battery or the rock-breakers, as it is the intention of the company to carry on dry-crushing.

Mr. Adams has made a new departure in the construction of cyanide-solution vats, these vats being made of steel plates 16ft. in diameter by 4ft. deep at sides, with concave bottom and a discharging-pipe in the centre. There are also two solution-tanks 16ft. in diameter and 4ft. deep, with a mixing-tank made out of an old settler. The dry ore is lifted by elevators into covered bins, and from the bins the ore will be taken in trucks and emptied into the vats, the latter, however, being the most defective operation in the whole arrangement, as large clouds of dust float about the building in emptying the powdered ore from the trucks into the vats; and this dust is very injurious to the health of the workmen.

Arrangements will yet have to be made in all these dry-crushing mills to have hoppers placed between two rows of vats, so that the ore can be conveyed by pipes from the stamps into the bins, and from the bins into each solution-vat. The defect mentioned applies not only to the Waihi-Silverton, but to Waihi Company's works, the Waitekauri and other companies using the cyanide process.

The battery is to be driven by a low-pressure turbine-wheel, the head of water being only 11ft. A dam has been built in the Ohinemuri River, in order to raise the water to this height, from which it is conveyed in wrought-iron pipes. Since my last visit to this mine, the battery has been completed and crushing commenced, and, judging from its construction and the manner in which it is worked, it will prove one of the most efficient plants yet worked on the field. There exists a doubt in my mind, however, whether the solution vats are not by far too small, and that it would be more economical had they been made considerably larger, instead of smaller, than the Waihi Company's vats. This question will, however, soon solve itself, as it is only by experiments that the best methods can be ascertained.

The following is a description of the plant, taken from the Auckland Weekly News :—

"The mill stands on the old Silverton battery-site, and is about a couple of miles distant from the mine, communication with which has been effected by means of a tramway, and over this line the ore is conveyed to the battery in 1-ton trucks drawn by a locomotive. Upon delivery at the mill the ore is tipped on to a "grizzly", the fine particles falling through into the main hopper, while the rough passes into the hopper erected over two stone-breakers, into which the ore is fed automatically. When the stone has been reduced to sufficient fineness, it is passed into the hopper underneath, and from here is drawn automatically a regular supply of ore, the self-feeders being fixed behind the stamps, and continually meet the demand made upon them. The stampers are provided with 30-mesh screens, and the crushed ore after passing through the screens falls into a large receptacle, whence it is elevated and delivered into another hopper erected in connection with the treatment.

"Before passing from the stampers entirely, however, it will be gathered from the remarks made by Mr. George Wilson, Mining Inspector, and others, at the opening ceremony, that an arrangement was introduced by Mr. Adams to minimise the dust evil. This arrangement is unquestionably a very simple one, and should prove most effective in accomplishing the desired end. It merely consists of large hoods being placed over the stamp-boxes, a continuous pipe being connected with a suction-fan, which draws off the dust as it escapes from the stampers, and precipitates it into a receiver, where it is collected. Then, when a sufficient amount has accumulated, no doubt it will be treated with the other ore. The idea, as already stated, emanated from Mr. Adams, and, if it proves as successful as anticipated, the men working in the battery will undoubtedly owe a lot to the originator in reducing to a minimum the danger caused by the floating of dust in the atmosphere, and which they must necessarily inhale.

"When the ore has been elevated and delivered into the hopper connected with the treatment plant, it is conveyed by means of trucks along the tops of the tanks, or vats, and emptied therein. These vats, it may be mentioned, are twelve in number, and are composed of iron, the size of each being 16ft. in diameter by 4ft. deep. The bottoms of the vats are concave, with a sluice-pipe in the centre, while a wooden grating also covers the bottom, a canvas filter being laid over all. These tanks are the first of their kind used in the colony, though they are extensively used in America.

"In conversation with Mr. McConnell, assayer, as to the chemical effects of the cyanide on the iron he informed me that there can be no appreciable loss or decomposition of the cyanide; but, in order to obviate any reaction that may take place, the inside of these tanks has been coated with a mixture of tar and kauri-gum, on which cyanide has no effect. Mr. McConnell also stated that the principal objection to iron tanks was apparently that a certain amount of decomposition must take place in the cyanide used for treatment; but he said, when it is considered that in plants where wooden tanks are used the cyanide is conveyed from these vats through iron pipes, the effect is practically the same. Hence this objection must be swept away. Another great and most important advantage that will be gained by the use of iron tanks is that when once made tight they are impervious for all time, and are not affected by any change of weather, consequently the leakage which takes place in wooden tanks is avoided, and this undoubtedly is a great consideration. However, the Silverton Company has taken the initiative with regard to the introduction of iron tanks to the colony, and the result of the move will no doubt be watched with the greatest interest by those interested in cyanide plants.

"Returning to the mode of treatment, the ore is then charged into the tanks to a depth of about 2½ft., after which the cyanide solution is run in by means of a pipe which enters the tank below the filter. The solution is allowed to rise up from the bottom slowly through the ore until it appears a few inches above the top, when it is then stopped. This method of running on the solution is adopted so as to saturate the ore evenly, and prevent channels being formed through it, as would be the case if the solution were run on to the top of the ore. After the ore has been saturated with the solution for an hour or so, the solution is allowed to percolate through the ore, and, dissolving the gold in its course through the ore, it is carried from the bottom of the tank and passed through the precipitating-boxes. The ore is then washed for the purpose of freeing from it from the gold solution. It may also be mentioned here that, in view of coarse gold existing in the ore, the later, after being treated by the cyanide, is passed over four amalgamating-tables, 24ft. by 12ft., so as to insure the redemption of any gold not soluble in cyanide. One-half of these tables is covered by muntz-metal and the other half by copper; though, practically speaking, there is no difference in the saving capabilities of either metals, but the reason the Silverton Company adopted muntz for one half of the tables is that if there are any minerals in the ore it will not blacken like copper – or, in a nutshell, it is more easily kept clean."


The shaft is supplied with a Tangye double-cylinder winding-engine of 40-horse power. The pumping-engine is a high-pressure horizontal 40-horse-power engine. Substantial poppet-heads, 60ft. in height, have been erected. The cages are fitted with safety appliances, and detaching-hooks are used to prevent overwinding. Three kilns, with a capacity of 150 tons each, have been excavated in the vicinity of the shaft. A locomotive is used to convey the quartz from the kilns to the battery, along one mile and a half of tramway.

The battery, which is built on the site of the old mill, consists of two stonebreakers—the one a Blake, the other a Gates—forty stamps, and twelve percolating-vats, 16ft. in diameter, made of steel plates, the bottoms being concave to admit of the tailings being sluiced through an orifice in the centre. Suitable buildings for assaying and melting plants have also been erected. Sixty men are employed.

The assays taken daily from the quartz show that those reefs will return a very good profit from working; and, judging from their width and extent, a large quantity of material available for several years is in sight.

C. W. Vennell records that A&G Price Ltd erected a 20 stamp battery on the site of the old Martha Battery in 1895. This may mean 20 new stamps?

Adams left Waihi in January 1897 to take up the position of mine manager at the Komata Reefs Battery. When leaving the mine, "he regretted that it ‘had not up to the present proved itself a greater gold producer’".

AJHR, to March 1897:

Waihi-Silverton Mine (Area, 174 acres).— The forty-stamp mill is in fairly good working-order. The mill has been provided with exhaust fans for the removal of the dust caused by the dry-crushing. These fans have the effect of carrying off the dust, and when further improvements are made it will be possible to alleviate the evil.


Waihi-Silverton: Returns from this property were for some time not up to expectations. This was extremely disappointing, as it was anticipated that when the battery was started it would be a second Waihi. However, the property is being thoroughly prospected and opened up, and a main shaft is being sunk to a considerable depth. As a consequence the mine is improving, and returns are getting better, so that if care is exercised the property may yet come back to what was anticipated of it.

In May 1897 there appeared an advertisement in the Auckland Star, from the Waihi Silverton Extended Gold Mining Company, inviting tenders for a water race. In September, the same paper reported that:

The building of the new water race is proceeding rapidly, and will be completed before the dry season sets in. This new race has been surveyed to give six more feet of available head at the battery, or about 20 per cent. more than by the old race. The level of the dam will also be raised 18 inches.

The construction of the new water race is being pushed ahead by the contractor, Mr Macfarlane. The earth work is almost completed, and the whole race is well under way.

It is not clear to which race this alludes. It may be an alteration to the race and dam taking water from the Ohinemuri River, a little upstream from the battery. No further information has been traced.

AJHR, to March 1898:

The forty-stamp mill has been continuously employed, and 11,253 tons of quartz, yielding 8,456 oz., valued at £16 452, has been crushed. Seventy men are employed.


To March 1899:

It was found to be absolutely necessary to overhaul the battery as it had been run until it was in a very bad state of repair, and in consequence of the stoppage the yearly return is not as large as if the battery had been running full time. The prospects of this mine are said to be improving, and it may reasonably be expected that the returns of gold will be larger next year. 8,350 tons of ore was treated for 6,736 oz. of gold ; value, £11,501 4s. 5d. There are 105 men employed.

Union-Waihi Company 1895

We learned that the Waihi Gold Mining Company ceased mining on Union Hill mid 1893. Two years later they split off this area under a new company, the Union-Waihi Gold-mining Company Limited. This may have been for tax or other business reasons, and/or to retain possession of ground that they were not working (ie keeping others out). This was reported as an English company.

At about the same time (April 30, 1895 ) the Waitekauri Gold Mining Company is also purchased by the Waihi Company shareholders, from T.H. Russell. Optimism abounds, empires to be built. Plans already being made for the huge Victoria Battery at Waikino.

From the Annual Reports of Directors for the year 1894-5 we learn a little more.

Two special mining claims in the Union section of the Company's property, aggregating about 200 acres, have been granted to the Company by the Warden of the Gold Fields, and are now awaiting formal confirmation by the Government, which it is expected will shortly be granted. This additional ground is on the line of the system of reefs known as the "Winner" and "Amaranth" Reefs, the latter being a well defined reef of considerable width.

A new and separate Company will shortly be organised for the purpose of developing this property. After providing the necessary working capital for the purpose, the remainder of the Shares will be the property of the Waihi Company, and their Shareholders will have a preferential claim to allotment. It is hoped that work upon the Union property will be commenced within the next few months.

McAra suggests this occurred in 1894, but Isdale provides a date:

Early in June [1895] the Waihi Company was "floating off" a large area of 300 acres - to be worked by a subsidiary company, on a prospecting basis, sinking a shaft.

Rainer provides analysis.

During 1895 the Company was involved in further manoeuvring. A separate Company was formed - the Union-Waihi - which purchased 250 acres of Waihi Company ground to work the now neglected Union mine. The Company appeared on the London market in September 1895, with a nominal capital of £200,000 in £1 shares; 100,000 of which went to the Waihi Company (fully paid- up) in exchange for the land. Nobody was fooled - the Russell clique was in control. The London Board comprised - Thomas Russell, John Boustead, H.J. Bristow, A.M. Mitchison, C.E. Russell, and Hubert Akers. Locally, James Russell, Thomas Morrin and H.P. Barry were at the helm, with Robert Rose as Legal Manager.

AJHR Inspector of Mines to 31 March, 1896 (with yet another figure for the area):

Union-Waihi Mine.—Owners, Union-Waihi Gold-mining Company (Limited).—The land occupied by this company consists of the Amaranth, Rosemont, Golden Run, and Union Special Claims, of a total area of 346 acres, formerly held by the Waihi Gold-mining Company. Since the present owners assumed possession works of an extensive character have been undertaken.

This new company works vigorously on Union Hill and surroundings, puts in a New No. 1 Shaft, a No. 2 Shaft and extensive tunnelling, but is, perversely, not permitted to have ore processed at the Waihi Battery. AJHR to March 1897

Union Mine (Area, 250 acres).—This mine is adjacent to the Waihi Company’s ground, and is held by the Union-Waihi Gold-mining Company, an English company. A large amount of development work has been done during the year. No. 1 shaft is now 270ft. in depth, and the depths of workings below surface are 177 ft. on Amaranth and 120 ft. on the Union reef. The Amaranth reef at No. 1, or adit level is 112 ft. below collar of shaft; and the Union reef at No. 4 level is 120ft. below the collar of the shaft. The Amaranth reef varies from 14ft. to 28ft. in width, running nearly north-east and south-west, and is free milling, with large amount of silica. The Union reef varies from 4ft. to 9ft. in width, running north-east and south-west, and is of free-milling ore, rather soft and clayey; and the Winner reef undeveloped in No. 9 drive. Other works are as follow: Cross-cut driven to Amaranth reef, 486ft.; cross-cut through country, 620ft.; driving on Amaranth reef (adit-level), 787 ft.; cross-cutting, Amaranth reef, 107 ft.; winzes sunk on Amaranth reef, 420ft.; other drives, winzes, and cross-cuts, 861 ft.: total, 3,281ft. The whole of the above is development work, as the company does not at present possess any mill.


To March 1899

The Union-Waihi Gold-mining Company's properties, which adjoin those of the Waihi Company, and are under the same management, have been most thoroughly and systematically prospected and opened up. It is the intention of this company, I am informed, to erect fifty head of stamps during the present year, to enable them to start crushing. There are two or three good reefs to work on, and I do not doubt that the company will be successful.

No battery, but talk of constructing one. They had been promised the Waihi Battery. Why not just buy the struggling Silverton Company and battery?