Quartz Crushing

From Ballarat and District Industrial Heritage Project
Jump to: navigation, search



The introduction of quartz-crushing machines [to Victoria] began at least as early as 1852 when it was said that some English people had arrived with the most 'aweful' machines which seem to have been rather large. During 1852 the Bathurst Free Press reported that quartz crushing was occurring in NSW at the Great Nugget Company. Quartz crushing was already very successful in California and reports of high yields such as 137 oz of gold from 277 Ibs of quartz at Mariposa were reaching Australia. Most early quartz miners were completely inexperienced at hard rock mining and many suffered financial ruin because of the expense of the equipment. [1]

Quartz crushing methods

Early crushing

Early crushing was done with the tools to hand, hammers, gads and the like.[1]


Dolly used for crushing quartz.[1]
The crushing dolly which was used in California was also used by some mines in Victoria in 1853 and 1854, until mechanical methods could be employed. ...it was possible to crush 5 cwt of quartz per day. [1]

Chilean arrastra

Another method which was said to have been used at the beginning for quartz crushing in Bendigo is the Chilean Arrastra but it never became popular.[1]

Stamp battery

The stamp battery is a logical development from the hammer or dolly. The earliest mechanisms were probably improvised, using materials immediately to hand. The earliest person successfully mining quartz in Bendigo is believed to have been a German, Mr Ballerstedt, who worked a claim at the head of Long Gully... Later, in 1854, he used a horse-powered stamper in which he crushed dry and then washed off in a cradle. The process left half of the gold in the course quartz tailings, so when a couple of Americans, Denis and Ferguson, erected a steam-powered battery at the head of New Chum Gully in March 1855, Ballerstedt joined with them to reprocess his tailings.[1]

Also at Bendigo, a mine worked by "Messrs Latham and Watson, from the earliest days of quartz mining in the colony up to the present time" illustrates "the gradual improvement of appliances for the reduction of quartz... In 1853, the quartz was crushed by a dolly, but immediately after their first purchase, Messrs. Latham and Watson constructed a stamping-machine with a grating, the gold being obtained by cradling. This was the first stamping machine constructed in the colony, and a model of it, which is now in the National Museum at Melbourne, was shown in the Bendigo Exhibition, 1854. To this machine horse-power was soon added, and subsequently a steam engine was made to do the work of horses."[2]

In evidence given in court in 1860,[Notes 1] James Lancelot Stormont states:

I constructed a quartz-crushing machine within 20 yards of where Dr. Otway constructed one in the end of 1853, at Black Hill (Ballarat). My machine was made at the end of 1852. The stampers had round heads, and had a vertical and rotatory motion. The vertical motion was given by cams; the horizontal motion by spur wheels. There were three stampers... It was worked by hand. I made it myself... It was made in August, 1852...[3]

In 1853, William Frederick Osborne attempted to crush quartz at Black Hill using a stamping mill powered by the wind.[3] Osborne later became business partners with William Beauclerc Otway, and the 1853 windmill is often attributed to Otway. For example, Robert Brough Smyth states "In April 1853 a Mr. Otway erected a windmill on the top of the hill to supply motive-power for a crushing apparatus, consisting of four wooden beetles, shod with iron 1½ inch thick; but it did not answer for the purpose of crushing quartz."[2]

Berdan's machine

Roll mills

Chilean mills

Plates and strakes


Bendigo vs Ballarat

Quartz Mining. — On Ballaarat, hitherto, our alluvial deposits have been so rich, that no attention, comparatively speaking, has been paid to the mountains of quartz which surround us. On every hand much of our present neglect is traceable to the numerous failures which have taken place, not on Ballaarat, but in several places in Victoria, where parties, ignorant of the proper appliances to crush and work quartz economically, have, at great expense, spent money in the purchase of inefficient machinery, started the works under an idea of a rapid fortune, and then as suddenly abandoned the same, or become bankrupt. Quartz mining on Bendigo has attained to such perfection that, some time since, when Dr Otway attempted to lecture the quartz miners of that place, he was hooted out of the room. Much of the success of quartz mining on Bendigo is due to their Scientific Association, in connexion with which is a good library, and where occasional lectures are delivered, all on the subject of quartz mining. Probably on Bendigo, at the present time, from seventy to eighty quartz crushing machines are at work, some of them sufficiently powerful to crush and amalgamate one ton per hour. One machine in particular, the Metropolitan, is provided with no less than 48 stampers, each of which weighs 370 lbs. It is high time that our capitalists should turn their attention to the quartz reefs of Ballaarat which lie scattered about, many of surprising richness[4]

See also

Quartz Crushers


  1. See Stevens' patent rotating stamper head – court challenge for the complete transcript.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Davey, Christopher J. "The origins of Victorian mining technology, 1851-1900", The Artefact, 1996, vol. 19, p.52-62
  2. 2.0 2.1 Smyth, Robert Brough, The gold fields and mineral districts of Victoria, 1869[1] (accessed 31/10/14
  3. 3.0 3.1 LAW REPORT. (1860, June 1). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 3. Retrieved August 22, 2015, from [2]
  4. BALLARAT. (1856, November 21). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved November 4, 2015, from [3]

Further reading

External links

--Neil Huybregts 11:39, 8 May 2015 (AEST)

Personal tools