Union-Waihi Gold-mining Company purchases Silverton Gold Mining Co

About mid 1899 the Silverton becomes incorporated into the Union-Waihi, and the Silverton Battery becomes the Union Battery. Purchase price: £35,000. It was once again refurbished, converted to wet crushing, and was under way by September 25 1900.

Annual Reports of Directors for the year 1899:

When the Union Waihi Company was promoted by this Company, a promise was made that the Waihi Mill of 90 head of Stamps with Mill Race, etc., should be acquired on equitable terms by the Union Waihi Company. This obligation the Waihi Company has not carried out. During the year the Union-Waihi Company has acquired by purchase the Waihi Silverton Mine and Mill for £35,000 in cash.


AJHR to 31 March, 1900

The Union-Waihi Gold-mining Company have during the past year acquired all the mining properties held by the Waihi-Silverton Gold-mining Company, together with its battery of forty stamp-heads, tramway, &c. The battery is now being thoroughly overhauled and repaired, preparatory to commencing crushing. The process to be adopted, I believe, is to be wet crushing. A large number of men are now engaged in development-work, so as to be in a position to keep the battery going continuously. It will afford me much pleasure to again see this mine figuring amongst the gold-producers of the Upper Thames portion of the peninsula.


AJHR to 31 December 1900

Extensive surface-works have been done in laying tram-roads on the flat and incline-trams to connect the mine with the battery, also the construction of hoppers, &c. The mill, consisting of forty head of stamps which formerly belonged to the Waihi-Silverton Company, and had been used almost exclusively as a dry-crushing mill by that company, has been over-hauled and repaired, a No. 3 Gates crusher erected, and the treatment plant added to, the chief addition being the fitting-together of one of the steel tanks which had not been previously used, and the erection of two large slime-collectors 32ft. in diameter by 14ft. in depth. An air-compressor pressure-tank and filter-press were also added to the plant so as to adapt it to wet-crushing. The process adopted is the same as that in use in the wet-crushing plant at the Victoria mill, Waikino, the sands and slimes being separated, and the latter dealt with by means of a filter-press. The mill was started on the 25th September last [1900], working with two shifts for a time, and then increased to three shifts per day. Up to the 31st December 4,199 tons of ore was treated for 3,385 oz. of bullion; value, £4,558 3s.

A tramway with self-acting incline was constructed on Union Hill, and connection made with the Silverton tramway at Clarke Street (where Mill Stream Walkway exits on to Clarke Street). Ore from both the Silverton mine and from Union Hill were taken to the mill, presumably by locomotive.

Despite the improvements to the battery, and the cyanide process, these mines and battery were still troubled. In the Annual Report of Directors of the Waihi Gold Mining Company, for the year 1900:

Shareholders are aware that for some time past the Union Waihi Mine has been practically managed by this Company, who have provided the funds for work in connection with that Mine. The position at the present time is as follows: The ore in the stopes is abundant for the mill. In stoping it has proved to be of lower grade than was expected when the mine was opened up; but though much less valuable there remains a profit on the crushings. The two shafts, one on the Union Waihi Mine and the other on the Silverton property are being sunk to a depth sufficient to prove the value of the lodes for 200 feet below the present lowest level. If the explorations are successful at these lower levels, there will be no difficulty in reorganizing the finance of the Company and placing it upon an independent basis. Should the explorations not be satisfactory, it will be necessary to defer further explorations until deeper levels in the Waihi Mine can be driven into the Union Waihi property.

The Inspecting Engineer had this to say (to 31 December 1901):

Union-Waihi Gold-mining Company (Limited).—This mine was vigorously worked up to the end of September by the company, but as the quartz operated on was barely sufficient to pay expenses, and the company having previously found a large sum of money to purchase the Waihi Silverton Mine and crushing plant, the capital became exhausted, and they found it was necessary to apply for six months' protection to give time, and thereby enable the directors to find ways and means to further carry on contemplated works. The Waihi Company holds a large interest in the above-named mine, and it is now rumoured they have taken the property over, and no doubt in a short time further development will be proceeded with to prove the value of the reefs at lower levels.

Waihi Company Take Over the Waihi-Union Company

The Thames Star on 4 November 1901 had the following headline:


200 Men Out Of Work. The Union Company Closing Down. Mr. H. P. Barry Interviewed.

(By Telegraph.—Own Correspondent.) WAIHI, November 4.

Mr. H. P. Barry, Superintendent of the Waihi mine, was interviewed this morning. He stated that the Union Gold Mining Company would close almost immediately owing to the end of the finances. Prospecting at the 200 feet level in the Silverton, shaft, below the old workings, and similar work in the Union level at the same depth, close to-day. The stampers at the Union Silverton battery will be stopped in a few days, and as soon as slimes and sands at present in course of treatment are completed all hands will be discharged.

The closing down means the loss of employment to about 200 men engaged on contract, and wages, the greater percentage being on wages. The pumping plants in the Silverton and Union shafts will be at once raised, and also iron rails in the levels. A reconstruction scheme is in hand.

The question as to more men being employed at the Waihi Company mine Mr. Barry said he thought there would not be any more employed, and as to whether the Union Silverton mill would be used as an auxiliary to Waihi company's mill he could not say, as it had been decided within the last few days to close down all works connected with Union Company's properties.

It seems the Waihi Company quite quickly decided to take over the Union Battery. The Warden’s Report to 31 December 1901:

The Waihi Company have recently taken over the Waihi Union Company's properties; as this includes the Silverton battery, this company will no doubt utilise that to supplement their crushing-power.

By July 1902 it is old news. The Thames Star had the following on 22 July 1902:

In commenting on the annual meeting of the Waihi Company, the Mining Journal (London) has the following:—'"The Waihi Company deserves notice as well for the remarkable scale of the enterprise itself as for the sake of comparison with leading gold producers elsewhere. As regards crushing appliances, Waihi has, since its acquisition of the Union Company's battery 330 head of stamps, which, is the largest battery in operation outside America.

Of course this does not give re-employment to the men not working in the battery. Mining at Union Hill and at Silverton ceased and machinery was removed.

Annual Reports of Directors for the year 1902:

The Union Mill of 40 stamps, which was acquired by the purchase of the Union-Waihi Company's property, was put in order, the necessary tramway completed, and crushing started on 15th September.

The "necessary tramway" was presumably reinstating the connection to Martha mine, which in practice meant the section from battery to the "rake line". It appears that when this section of tramway was no longer required (Martha Battery ceased operating 1890), the council turned it into Silverton Road. See Barry’s 1902 report below (page 68). The Silverton loco was now surplus, as its track gauge was 3 feet 6 inches, and the Waihi Gold Mining Company tracks were 2 feet 9 inches. It was sold to Bond Bros. of Wharawhara to haul timber. See in the Appendices: The Little Loco (page 103).

AJHR to 31 December 1902:

The Union battery of forty stamps (formerly the property of the Waihi-Silverton Company) now belongs to the Waihi Company, and has been thoroughly overhauled and modified. This brings up the company's total crushing-power to 330 stamps, as follows: Union battery, 40 stamps; Waihi battery, 90 stamps; Waikino battery, 200 stamps; total, 330 stamps.

Now the battery was crushing Martha ore once more, and crushing wet again. From 1902 forward the Annual Reports of Directors include details of plant and ore crushed. The yearly reports can be viewed in the separate document.

OK, so is there a description of the "thoroughly overhauled and modified" battery?

H.P. Barry, in his Superintendent’s Annual Report of 24th January 1903 (ie reporting on 1902) gave these details. Similar reports were made each subsequent year.


This mill ran for 89 days during the year.

An average of 33.97 stamps were at work during that time.

A total of 6,154 tons were crushed.

The average duty per stamp per diem was 2.136.

The Mill was started wet crushing on the 15th September.

As the Mill was to crush mineralised ore, considerable alterations and additions to the plant were necessitated. Auxiliary steam power to enable the whole Mill to be kept continuously at work had also to be provided.

The Mill had also to be connected by railway with the Martha Mine. Instructions to proceed with the necessary additions and alterations were received in March.

It was decided to transfer the pumping engine at the Silverton Shaft to the Mill, and overhaul and compound it, which has been done.

The Babcock & Wilcox boiler which was used at the dry crushing stonebreakers at the Victoria Mill was transferred immediately the dry crushing process was stopped, and erected at the Union Mill.

The stonebreakers formerly in use were removed and a Wheeler breaker which was in stock at the Waihi Mill was repaired and erected, the ore being tipped from the Mine trucks into a hopper and fed into the breaker, whence it is raised by means of a belt elevator, weighed and trucked over the ore bins.

Two elevating wheels were procured and erected, the pulp as it comes from the stamps being raised by these and flowing over the muntz metal plates which were formerly in use and which are arranged in a separate room, from which it flows over 10 Union vanners which were procured and erected.

In order to make room for these vanners and wheels, the former assay and melting room was dismantled, and the building extended some 50 feet, and shafting for driving the wheels and vanners put in.

Two steel solution vats, 25 feet in diameter by 8 feet in depth, were obtained. A good second-hand air compressor was obtained and erected, also a pressure tank.

The agitators were moved to a more convenient position nearer the river, and driven direct from the turbine.

Two Martin presses were obtained and erected, and the Johnson press formerly in use moved from its former position in the mill and erected near to the agitators. The quantity of moisture in the slimes is considerably reduced in this press, as in the process at the Waihi Mill.

The precipitator room was enlarged considerably and two new boxes put in, making six in all. The whole of the floor was concreted, and sloped so as to prevent loss of gold-bearing solution and bullion slimes.

Under the heading of Water Power, Barry added:

All the Mills now have independent steam-power; but owing to the changes from dry to wet crushing the demands upon the water power have increased, as, apart from what is required for the actual crushing, power is required at various points in the treatment plant as well as for the actual treatment itself, to a greater extent than was necessitated in the dry crushing process.

The steam engine was added during the refurbishments of 1902. The massive concrete mounts of the steam engine are still at the battery site, on the river side of the main building. The shelter built over this engine can be seen in several photographs of the battery, and therefore date these.

Coal would have been supplied from Victoria Battery. Prior to the arrival of the Government railway through the gorge, coal was brought to Victoria by horse wagon from Paeroa. The Waihi Gold Mining Company had their own wharf on the Ohinemuri River at Puke. These wooden wharves remain at the Paeroa Maritime Park.

The increasing amount of coal consumed, and the large amount of stores which come forward, has rendered it advisable that the Company should have its own wharf at Paeroa.

Consequently a freehold section of between two and three acres fronting the river was acquired and a coal hopper has been constructed. This will obviate the necessity of bagging coal.

Still within Barry’s report for 1902, under the heading Railways and Tramways:

Permission to construct a branch line connecting the main line with the Union Mill was obtained from the Waihi Borough Council. Part of the line is on one of the Borough roads.

The earthwork was completed by contract.

The line has been laid with 40 lb. rails, which were taken from the firewood lines, 26 lb. rails from the old line connecting the Silverton and Union Mines with the Union Mill, which line is not now required, being used to replace them.

The length of this line, exclusive of sidings, is 40 chains.

And under the heading: Coal And Goods Wharf—Paeroa.

The coal hopper which was erected last year has been brought into use. A suitable house has been provided for the Wharfinger. A shed for stores and a jetty have also been erected.

During 1903 this wharf would be used to land very heavy pieces of machinery for the new pumping engine for No.5 Shaft at Martha mine (the Pumphouse).

The battery started crushing on 16 September 1902. "The steam driving plant is not yet completed, but owing to the recent heavy rains sufficient water power was supplied to drive 35 head of stampers." The New Zealand Herald for 15 August 1902 gave a good description of the battery. See the Appendices: Waihi G.M. Co. The Union Mill. Extensive Alterations (page 116)

1903 - 1911

From 1901 the Union Battery was under the ownership of the Waihi Gold Mining Company, Superintendent H.P. Barry. The battery pounded steadily away at Martha ore, with modifications and improvements along the way. Mr W.M. Russell the manager.

Water-power was still very important; it was cheaper than steam.

Reports in the AJHRs chronicle this period in the life of the battery.

Union Mill (40 stamps).—The Babcock and Wilcox boiler formerly used at the No. 1 shaft of the Union Mine was removed to this mill, and re-erected as the single Babcock and Wilcox boiler in use was overtaxed. A settling-tank and filter was made to improve the quality of the boiler-feed water. A new turbine was procured, and brought into use for driving the agitators.


Union Mill (40 stamps).—A Leffel wheel has been obtained for this mill.


Union Mill (40 stamps).—The Leffel wheel obtained during the previous year was erected and dam and penstock completed. It has been in use during the latter part of the year. During the year four out of the eight mortar-blocks were provided with heavy cast-iron anvils , and during the overhaul at Christmas a fifth anvil was put in.

Could this "dam and penstock" be the Mangatoetoe stream water race? If so, then a re-invention of the Silverton version?

Superintendent’s Annual Report for 1903. Waihi, 21st January, 1904:

UNION MILL (40 Stamps).

This Mill ran for 306 days during the year.

The Mill was stopped early in the year for five days, owing to the breaking of the mainshaft at a point where the power from the turbines and steam engine is transmitted throughout the Mill. The broken shaft was replaced by one of larger diameter.

The Babcock & Wilcox boiler formerly used at the No. 1 Shaft of the Union Mine was removed to this Mill and re-erected, as the one Babcock boiler in use was overtaxed.

A settling tank and filter was made to improve the quality of the boiler feed water.

A small storeroom and office was added to the Mill.

A new turbine was procured and brought into use for driving the agitators, the old 14-inch conveyor pipes from the dry crushing plant at Victoria Mill being used to connect with the water race.

Two elevator wheels were procured and erected towards the end of the year for conserving the sand tailings.

The elevator and flume used for "conserving" some of the (higher grade) tailings can be seen in several photographs of the battery. The tailings were stored on land a little down stream of the battery; this area is flat pasture now. These tailings were processed in 1911 as the battery was closed down. It may be that the tube mill installed in 1909 allowed these tailings to be processed economically.

Superintendent’s Annual Report for 1904. Waihi, 25th January, 1905:

UNION MILL (40 Stamps).

This Mill ran 305.4 days.

An average of 39.356 stamps were at work for the whole running time an increase of 0.556 stamps compared with the previous year.

The average duty per stamp per diem was 2.177, an increase of 0.03 compared with the duty obtained during 1903; the increase in the quartz crushed was 950 tons.

A " Leffel " wheel has been obtained for this Mill.

The Wheeler Stonebreaker previously in use broke down and was replaced by one of a stronger pattern in stock; the necessary repairs to the old one are being made.

The mortar box foundations were examined and temporarily repaired during the stoppage of the Mill; these will require further attention during the near future. It will be advisable to put in heavy iron anvils on new timber crosspieces.

Superintendent’s Annual Report for 1904. Waihi, 25th January, 1905:


The extraction according to assay was 88.9 per cent. of the gold and 73.5 per cent. of the silver contents, and the actual recovery obtained was 82.9 per cent. and 76.1 per cent. respectively.

Taking into consideration, however, the estimated increased value of the stocks, including Concentrates under treatment at the Concentrates Treatment Plant, the actual extraction would tally very closely with the theoretical recovery.

The two tailings elevator wheels which were erected towards the end of 1903 have been in use for conserving the tailings whenever these exceed a certain value. It is not advisable to save low grade tailings, as the available storage room is limited.

Superintendent’s Annual Report for 1905. Waihi, 18th January, 1906:

Union Mill (40 stamps).

This Mill ran 303 days.

An average of 37.825 stamps were at work for the whole running-time, a decrease of 1.531 stamps compared with the previous year.

This decrease was due partly to the breaking of the main shaft in the mill, early in the year, necessitating the stoppage of the whole mill for nearly four days, and also in consequence of the mill having been run for several weeks towards the end of the year, entirely by water power, which was barely sufficient to keep the whole 40 stamps running; at this time the slimes plant was somewhat overtaxed.

The average duty per stamp per diem was 2.450, an increase of 0.012 compared with the duty obtained during 1904; the decrease in the quartz crushed amounted to 1,270 tons.

The "Leffel" wheel obtained during the previous year was erected, dam and penstock completed, and it has been in use during the latter part of the year; the tail race being deepened to gain maximum head available.

During the year four out of the eight mortar blocks were provided with heavy cast-iron anvils, and during the overhaul at Christmas a fifth anvil was put in; these have improved the running of the stamps and will lessen the breakages.

Some repairs to the timbers of the tail race from the high pressure turbine were necessary and have been carried out.

Part of the accumulated stock of slime in the dam was trucked to the agitators and treated towards the end of the year.

Minor stoppages of stamps were due to repairs being necessary to the sands elevator and air compressors.

During the Christmas stoppage the elevator was overhauled, a new shaft being put in and other repairs effected; the air compressors were also repaired.

Superintendent’s Annual Report for 1908. Waihi, 10th February, 1909:

It has been decided to install one of our standard size tube mills , and the necessary alterations to elevator wheel, launders, etc., are well in hand; this should result in improved extraction and slightly better stamp duty.

Superintendent’s Annual Report For Year Ended 31st Dec, 1909. Waihi, 10th February, 1910:

Union Mill (40 Stamps and 1 Tube Mill since August)— This mill ran 282 days.

The average duty per stamp per day was 2,715 tons, an increase of 0.362 tons compared with 1908; the decrease in the ore crushed amounted to 3,520 tons.

During the year the Mill was stopped for 25 days for alterations and repairs.

One of our standard pattern Tube Mills has been installed and is working well.

A new elevator wheel of larger capacity has been erected on the site of the old one.

The main shafting has been replaced with a larger size in order to drive the Tube Mill.

All launders have been overhauled and replaced where necessary with new ones.

The vertical turbine has been repaired and better arrangements fitted to carry the weight of the vertical spindle, which gave some trouble in the past owing to the large quantity of tailing in the water .

A Martin filter press for the cyanided slime and a Johnson filter press for de-watering the pulp have been brought from the Victoria Mill, erected and brought into use.

The extraction according to assay was 90.1 per cent. of the gold and 71.9 per cent. of the silver.

This shows an increased extraction according to assay of, 1.7 per cent. on the gold and 2.4 per cent. on the silver compared with 1908.

The improved extraction and the increased stamp duty are mainly due to the Tube Mill which was installed during the year.


June 16, 1909. The Waihi Company's Union battery was stopping pending erection of tube mills "now being installed. These mills grind ore much finer, and have the effect of increasing the output. The mills have proved a great success at the Company's reduction works at WAIKINO."

Superintendent’s Annual Report For Year Ended 31st Dec. 1910. Waihi, 17th February, 1911:

With the exception of a bucket elevator installed to lift the slime pulp from the disintegrator to the agitators there have been no additions to this mill.

The End?

1910 saw the first reduction in ore output from the Martha Mine.

The sudden drop in the gold content of the Martha reef at No. 9 level (1000 ft) which became apparent in 1910 was almost as spectacular as its continual increase in size and value up to that date. Although it was inevitable that the ore would cut out sooner or later, people in Waihi had been so long accustomed to regard the mine as inexhaustible that it came as a shock to find this was not so.


1911. January 18. Superintendent Barry was quoted as having said re a rumour of an alleged intention to close the Union mill that "he knew nothing about it, and it was not correct. He added, ‘that the only difficulty experienced by the Company at present was that of finding sufficient workers to get out the quartz for the mills’.

Union Battery closes February 1911. Report Of The Directors 18th day of May 1911:

The Union Mill of 40 stamps was shut down in February. Only 6 or 7 per cent. of the total tonnage has been crushed at this Mill in recent years.

Superintendent's Annual Report For Year Ended 31st Dec., 1911. Waihi, 20th February, 1912:

Owing to the necessity of reducing our output, the Union Mill was stopped in February, and, after treating an accumulation of tailings, etc., the Mill was sold to an Auckland syndicate.

Auckland syndicate?

H.P. Barry’s Report on the Milling and Treatment operations for the year ended 31st December, 1911:

Crushing was discontinued on February 8th, and the treatment of the accumulated sand and slime was proceeded with; the plate room and concentration plant were cleaned up, all concentrate being sent to the Concentrates Treatment Plant at Victoria Mill. This work was completed by the end of April, and a contract was then let for the treatment of the sand dump, collected some years ago, and about 149 tons of fine quartz, sand and dust lying around the rock crusher and stamps.

....the mill was sold on the completion of this work.

The Union Battery was the first casualty from the need to reduce output. The Waihi Mill was the second, closing down at end 1912-13.

The Union Battery never installed air agitation tanks, and the 1912 arrival of electricity to the Martha mine occurred too late.

But Wait, There’s More

The battery lives on.

The Auckland syndicate mentioned above was effectively H.H. Adams. "In 1909, he was referred to as ‘one of the principal mining investors in Auckland’" .

The New Zealand Herald, 27 October 1911, records the sale of the battery to H.H. Adams:

SALE OF UNION BATTERY. [by TELEGRAPH. OWN correspondent.] Waihi, Thursday. The Waihi Company's Union battery (more generally known as the Silverton Mill), which was closed down when the management decided to reduce the monthly gold output, has been sold to Mr. H.H. Adams, who recently purchased the Waihi Gladstone mine. It is understood that the mill, which is of 30 stamps, was acquired for use in connection with the Gladstone property.

Henry Hopper (Harry) Adams.

Adams was there at the start, in the middle, and again at the end. He is a man poorly recognised in Waihi’s traditional historical narrative. Although the Waihi Borough Council Diamond Jubilee Booklet 1902-1962 suggests Adams Street was named after Joseph Adams, Draper, I think it more likely it was honouring H.H. Adams. It is close to the battery site.

A 1926 Observer article characterised him thus:

At one time Harry Hopper Adams controlled a regular cordon of mines from Coromandel to Waihi. They are all asleep now, and their backers dead or gone, but Old Harry is still vigorous....Harry has bought and sold nearly every old battery on the goldfields, [and] has hawked new ideas in crushing and reducing ores...

He was born in Auckland in 1851, one of eleven children. He started mining in Thames when he was 17 years of age, and died in 1928. Philip Hart has written a comprehensive discussion of Adams’ life.

The Auckland Star, 6 December 1911, reported on the Waihi Standard Company:

WAIHI STANDARD. The Company has been successfully floated for the purpose of developing the Waihi Gladstone property. Poppet heads are being erected, and a winding plant installed. It is expected that the plant will be ready to start on the reef before Christmas holidays. The Union battery, which was purchased from the Waihi Company, is now treating old tailings. The stampers are being put in order, and it is proposed to keep 10 head of stampers at work to test the value of the ore broken from the two reefs that were opened up by the old Company.

The Waihi Gladstone Battery had not been successful at treating its ore, and the tailings were saved. From the above it seems that these tailings were put through the Union Battery late in 1911, and may be into 1912. In addition, the Waihi Extended Gold Mining Company may have had ore crushed.

MINING NEWS. New Zealand Herald, 6 July 1912:

The ordinary general meeting of shareholders in the Waihi Extended Gold Mining Company..... A shareholder suggested the advisability of testing the ore, as soon as work was resumed at the mine. The Chairman replied that as soon as opportunity offers this will be done, and the proprietors of the Union battery had already been approached as to crushing their ore. Mr. J. Frater stated that there were about 50 tons of ore ready for crushing, and it was estimated that about 2000 tons would be available in Nos. 3 and 4 levels.

Little more information has been traced, beyond a comment by Hart: "During the war he [Adams] obtained some gold from his Thames and Coromandel foreshore dredges and from cleaning up the Komata and Silverton batteries" . It looks like Adams was involved in the final removal of the battery.

Of the Waihi Standard Gold-mining Co. J.F. Downey wrote:

Beyond cleaning out the old workings, extending the lowest level 90 ft. northward on the reef, and sinking a winze a short distance below the level, this company did little work, and ceased operations in 1913, since when the ground has lain idle.

It seems likely that this, and the Waihi miners’ strike of May to November 1912, put an end to it all. Whether the Waihi Extended Gold Mining Company ever had any ore crushed at the battery has not been traced.


Ohinemuri Gazette, December 1915:



We beg to notify the public that we have now dismantled the Silverton Battery, Waihi, and are prepared to dispose of it dirt cheap.


We also have a large assortment of Machinery, Engines, Boilers, Shafting Volleys, Bearings, Belts, Pumps, Tanks, Pipes, and Fittings, and all manner of gear, which must be disposed of at Scrap Iron Prices.

Apply MANAGER, Silverton Battery, Waihi.

And it gets worse. Thames Star, 8 November 1916

Meeting of the Thames Harbour Board November 7. Inward correspondence.

From Silverton battery, Waihi, offering 300,000 ft. of Kauri contained in the water race, which was to be dismantled.—Offer declined.