Quartz Mining

From Ballarat and District Industrial Heritage Project
Jump to: navigation, search
Quartz mining.[1]



Within a year of the discovery of alluvial gold in Victoria, some miners were turning their attention to the gold contained in quartz. The development of sophisticated technology really began with the mining and treatment of gold-bearing quartz. The crushing of the rock and the retention of gold from the crushed quartz became a subject of intense experimentation by Victorian miners, as can be seen by the large number of early Victorian patents granted for such processes. However, very few of Victoria's inventions in quartz mining and treatment had significant influence on the industry, even at a local level.[2]
The Star. DAILY ISSUE. TUESDAY, 26TH APRIL, 1859. QUARTZ MINING. NEARLY all the early essays in quartz mining in Victoria were unsuccessful. Who does not remember the works erected some four or five years since by Dr Otway, at the Black Hill, and after him, by Mr Milner Stephen, at the same place; and who does not equally remember the profitless results, and the consequent disappointment and disgust which ensued? Not very dissimilar were the ventures there of the Port Phillip Company, of the same company at Dead Horse, and of other parties in other portions of this district, when crushing apparatus of some kind or other was erected and experiments made - experiments made with sanguine hope of success, and with occasional gleams of even bright promise, but ultimately abandoned as unremunerative to the experimenters. Then there were on Old Post Office Hill, White Horse, Little Bendigo, and other places, parties working more rudely and without crushing, except by hand; parties whom the richness of surface reefs alone made temporarily rich and urged to persistence in a system of working most ineffective and uneconomical, and therefore, in the long run, unprofitable. It was just like this also at Bendigo, now so prosperous in the results of its development of its resources in quartz. When the rich gullies and flats of Bendigo began to exhibit signs of exhaustion, and the escorts showed a woeful falling off week after week, then the enterprising began to try the quartz reefs about that field, and quartz prospectors were threading their way along every ridge and reef that "showed likely" for a profitable investigation. And these investigations were made, and were followed at first, as in the Ballarat district, with more or less of disappointment and loss, and many of the adventurers actually gave up in disgust, and left undeveloped fortunes behind them for others to secure. But these Bendigo men did not find their old alluvial grounds get any richer, nor did the occasional bits of new ground help to stay the fast-ebbing tide of prosperity, for they were instantaneously overrun and overdone by the numbers of miners who were ready, upon the least possible inducement, to abandon their old and poorly paying haunts for the unknown possibilities of the new rush, to which hope and imagination, as they ever have done and will do, lent hues more bright than real. While things continued in this state, and worse conditions loomed in the near future, the miners were compelled to make fresh essays upon the already so unprofitably tested quartz reefs. It was a fight for subsistence, not a mere diversion for increase of returns, and the men worked the more persistently, and looked out the more earnestly for every fresh appliance to render their industry more effective, and for every fresh bit of experience or suggestion which might tend to expedite and direct the newly begun efforts in the novel department of mining enterprise. Meanwhile, the first experimenters in quartz mining with steam or other crushing machinery, had profited by their earlier failures, by endeavoring to obtain improvements in the construction of reducing machinery, and by eliciting a more general attention to the importance of this department of gold fields industry; ingenious mechanicians and old world miners at the same time responding in various parts of this and the neighboring colonies to the demand for more information upon the knotty question of profitable quartz mining. Thus, gradually, the necessities of the case brought about a partial improvement. Dr Otway and his fellow-experimenters at Steiglitz made quartz mining more attractive by their success, in that quarter; the miners at Bendigo began to find that the quartz hills in their locality were after all worth attending to; and the Port Phillip Company at Clunes entered upon the development of the reefs in that neighborhood, now furnishing so large a field for occupation, and producing such ample returns upon the skill and capital invested. Bendigo rapidly recovered its condition by the enterprise of its quartz miners; the report returns began to increase, month after month showed the steady value of the new field of labor, until at the present day it again, as a gold-producing district, runs a good race with Ballarat, and this confessedly by reason only of the yield of its quartz lodes, - the proportion of gold obtained from the quartz workings considerably exceeding, we believe, that obtained from the alluvial grounds of the district. If such results have, then, been secured from mining operations which are as yet but a tissue of experiments in their several details of raising and reducing, what may we not reasonably anticipate from further developments of this branch of industry, aided on every hand by increasing knowledge of the specialities of this phase of mining, and by constant improvements in both the miner's and reducer's sphere of operation? Already we have learnt that a very small percentage of gold will pay even with our existing means of development; while every improvement has as surely added alike to the absolute yield and the rate of remuneration, since the improved methods have not only produced more gold from the same ore, but have been more economised in the production, thus pouring two streams of profit simultaneously into the exchequer of the miner. We see, therefore, at every turn we take in the consideration of this all-important subject, that our success depends on availing ourselves of all that science and skill can give; and, consequently, upon our doing all we can to obtain, and compare, and spread about every new fact, every new hint, every new invention, every new experiment bearing upon the development of our quartz resources.[3]

The opening up of our quartz resources was also dwelt upon, and the adventures of our quartz pioneers narrated, including the erection by Dr Otway of a windmill, at the Black Hill, for quartz reducing, and subsequently of Chilian mills, at which a "spread" was given to the local notabilities of the day. The smelting and sunbeam processes were also alluded to, and a hopeful view taken of the future of the gold field in connection with the development of quartz mining enterprise.[4]

See Also

Quartz Crushing

Quartz Roasting


  1. (1857). [Quartz mining]. George Slater, East Melbourne (Vic.) [1]
  2. Davey, Christopher J. "The origins of Victorian mining technology, 1851-1900", The Artefact, 1996, vol. 19, p.52-62
  3. The Star. (1859, April 26). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), p. 2. Retrieved February 13, 2015 [2]
  4. MECHANICS' INSTITUTE LECTURE. (1860, February 29). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), p. 3. Retrieved August 5, 2015, from [3]

Further Reading

External Links

--Beth Kicinski 10:33, 14 August 2013 (EST) --Neil Huybregts 16:46, 13 February 2015 (AEDT)

Personal tools