Chook's Tracks

The rise and fall of mining in the Maratoto Valley

Gold first discovered by Richard McBrinn in August 1887.

1888 - The Maratoto Mining Co. erected a pan amalgamation plant in McBrinn Creek and crushed 400 tons of ore.

1898 – The Maratoto Gold Mining Co. built a fifteen stamp battery beside the Maratoto Stream. Ore was fed by ropeway from McBrinns Creek. A lot of money was lost even with Government assistance with the Majestic Drive.

1898 – Waitekauri Extended "St. Hippo Mine", built a 40 stamp battery with a two kilometer ropeway from the top of the range at the Golden Cross. Up until 1901,it had crushed 6,017 tons of ore for 6,040 ounces bullion, worth £6,147, then ceased as it had run out of money.

In the mean time work was carrying on with the Julia, Silver Queen, Corbett and Camoola Reefs by the Silver Stream Mining Co.

Ore from these mines prior to 1909 was sent overseas. One shipment returning £5,000.

1914 – Ohinemuri Gold & Silver Co. took over the Silver Stream Co. along with the Waitekauri Extended 40 stamp battery but went broke in 1930 when silver dropped to 10 cents per ounce.

2,075 tons were crushed for £3,877. The bullion was mainly silver. One pocket of quartz went 400 ounces of silver to the ton.

1940 era – This saw the Golden Spur Mining Co. working five stamps of the old battery by waterpower from across the Maratoto Stream. A water race from the headwaters of the Whakamoehau Stream supplied the water. The mine was high up on the right hand side of the valley.

Staff for the Golden Spur Mining Co. were - Harold Sparkes, Mine Manager; Mr. Cameron, Engineer; Mr. Wilton, Battery Manager; Mr. Patton and his son-in-law; Mr. Lee as general hands; plus Sparke's horse which did outstanding work and of course Alf Best, a pensioner, who later shifted to Thames.

After the collapse of this company, the battery was sold to a Mr. Crompton for scrap which was sent to Japan.

One ball mill went to the Crown Lynn Potteries at Auckland for grinding clay for our New Zealand made china.

During the 1950's and 1960's Sparke had a two stamp battery driven by a Lister engine on the site. His niece Shirley, in Waihi, still holds the amalgamation plates from this little mill.

1970 – This year saw the Consolidated Silver Mining Co. build a modern plant on the same site to work the old Ohinemuri Gold & Silver claims. They soon failed and leased the plant to the Gerrard Tile Roofing Co. which exported quite a lot of their products to the Middle East.

Various stone was also crushed to make concrete panels for buildings which were poured at the old Hikutaia Cheese Factory and sent all around the North Island. Some of the stone was trucked from Rahu Road, Mackytown for crushing.

When the plant became worn out it was sold.

The only financially successful mine in this area was the Volunteer Mine which had crushed it's ore up at McBrinns Creek Battery.

13.2 km, 05:38:28