As predicted by Gold Net - the correction in stock markets occurred last month. It was somewhat overdue and reflects a realization that not all internet stocks are going to be successful. The most optimistic predictions from the experts indicate that at best only about 20% of internet based stocks will ever return a dividend. In reality a figure closer to 10% would be more accurate. This is a market based economy at work. For too long the bouyant stock markets world wide have attributed to the main focus being taken from the real profit makers in business and reflecting on the surging e-tech industries. Undoubtedly some fabulous fortunes have and will be made in e-tech stocks.
Unfortunately, not all will perform, and that is now being recognised with the global correction occurring last month. The volatility of these corrections will continue for some time.
NOTE: From time to time glitches occur with internet sites - and last month Gold-Net experienced a problem with bill paying and logging on. We purposely do not use your E-mail address to bombard you with unwarranted E-mails - however when a glitch like this occurs - it is our policy to advise our readers. We would appreciate keeping on file a current email address for such occurrences in future. We guarantee it will not be used except in exceptional circumstances - and will definately not be passed on to others. So if you would like to be informed please let us have a current email.
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2. DETECTING AT MARYBOROUGH
by Chris Theyer
I like Maryborough. I like it for a host of reasons, and I am often seen detecting there. There are those who believe that all the gold is gone from there as the area had been pretty well worked over by detectorists, but if you do a little research you can still find your share each and every time you go there.
On the other hand don't think the yellow stuff is going to be easy - it won't be, but it's still there, and that is why so many are drawn here. I have never personally found big gold here - but then, as I'm a little older these days and finding the big coils a little heavy, I tend to seek out small gold using smaller coils. I find more little pieces this way, and as I only treat this as a hobby, I find I enjoy my time here more - getting several little pieces, not too deep, rather than spending all day going for that one big piece and being totally unsuccessful.
Maryborough itself has all the facilities a hobbyist could desire. A great caravan park and several motels that provide all the facilities one could need for overnight accommodation. Coupled with that the history and buildings of Maryborough reflect a by-gone era of rare opulence. The old Post Office, Courthouse, and Town Hall, reflect a grandeur and great foresight by the original settlers to build such architectural structures that have lasted from the late 19th century and into the 21st century.
Perhaps the best known structure of Maryborough is the fabulous Railway Station, that was well described by the great American writer, Samuel Clements, better known by his pen name, Mark Twain. When he visited Maryborough he described the area thus, "A railway station with a town attached", and in that era the description would have been totally correct.
But as a gold enthusiast, the sheer volume of large nuggets that came from this ground during the gold rushes draws me back here. More importantly large nuggets are still being found here, and one just can't help wanting to detect ground that you know contains big nuggets. The thrill of walking over this ground knowing that in the past, truckloads of gold came from this ground excites me.
If one does a little research it isn't hard to discover that over 50 nuggets weighing over 100 ounces came from this ground, including two over 1,000 ounces. I always think that I might just be able to locate one like that. Well I think that, and that is why I am back here so often. I might add I have not ever found a nugget over 15 grams (1/2 oz.) here, but then I only go after the little stuff.
Now I don't intend to disclose exactly just where I get gold from here. But I have in the last few months concentrated on areas close in to the town. There are numerous diggings very close to the town itself, and only a couple of weeks ago I was staying at a motel and in the evening walked across the road and into some local bush and picked up three small pieces in a few minutes. I was amazed that gold was still there so close in, but then come to think of it - it was so close that I don't think it had ever been detected.
I didn't go back there again, as it is my intention to keep this little spot a secret and I will be back there within the next two weeks and in the early dark hours I just might re-visit this little gem of a spot. I also found that working in virgin ground, within site of old diggings were most productive as well. Most of the well-known good diggings always get a hammering - but away from these on slopes and quartz bearing ground the odd little piece is still there.
I will however disclose to you some of the areas that I have detected with some degree of success. I do point out that I am using a Minelab 2200d using the 10" elliptical coil to achieve a result - but as I have said - I prefer to go after smaller gold. I should mention at this point that a lot of good gold bearing country is on private property, and that is not readily available.
South west of Maryborough on the western side of the Paddy Ranges Track there are some exciting little spots that give you a buzz when you find the yellow stuff. Not too many I might add. I have also picked up a few little pieces on the southern end of the Waterloo Lead, working the slopes. South east of the town just to the north of White Horse Track, there is a very solid area not far off the Maryborough Majorca Road, that provides a few little pieces just west of the old diggings that proliferate and adjoin private ground to the east.
I have always found the Mosquito Flat and Golden Point area among the most productive, especially for the small gold that I spend my time concentrating on these days. The value of detecting so close in to the town is the ease with which one can skip back into town for a meal, drink or for rest stops, and you will probably find that a lot of this ground is still almost virgin to detectors.
On old mate of mine told me about a good spot he found off the United Kingdom Track north of the town, and he has promised to take me there next time he went. I note that he has been back to Maryborough a few times since he told me of his little find and he hasn't asked me to go yet. I don't suppose he wants to really share what he has found with me. But eventually he will get around to telling me, I am sure.
Next time I go there, I intend to try and find this spot without his assistance, and I have also heard of a few pieces coming from near the Rifle Range, north of the town, just south of the known diggings. In any case I intend to head that way and try my luck for a few days. I'll let you know what I find.
3. THE SUPER PIT
by Cecelia Roberts
The Fimiston Open Pit (commonly referred to as the Super Pit) is a part of the Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines Pty Ltd (KCGM) operation in Kalgoorlie-Boulder. KCGM manages the Fimiston Open Pit, the Mt Charlotte underground mine, the Fimiston Mill and the Gidji Roaster for its Joint Venture Owners - Normandy Mining Limited and Homestake Gold of Australia Limited. KCGM produces up to 850,000 ounces of gold per year. The KCGM operations are located on the outskirts of the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder about 600 kilometres east of Perth, Western Australia.
The Fimiston Open Pit is essentially an aggregation of what were known as the Judd, South, Paringa, Croesus/Eclipse, Central, Brownhill, Drysdale and Horseshoe pits into one continuous large-scale operation. The old Fimiston Underground Operations (included the Main, Croesus, Chaffers, Lake View, and Perseverance shafts) were also located within the area of the Fimiston Open Pit, and closed in 1992 due to high mining costs.
Traditional underground mining methods have extracted much of the high grade ore in the Fimiston Open Pit area, but huge quantities of low grade material remain in "haloes" around the orebodies under the Golden Mile. It is these "haloes" that are being mined in the Open Pit.
The Fimiston Open Pit is the largest open pit gold mine in Australia. When completed it will be some 5 kilometres long, two kilometres wide and 600 metres deep. (3 miles long - 1.3 miles wide and 660 yards deep)
Open pit mining on the Golden Mile is complicated by the presence of stope voids, shafts, drives and cross-cuts of workings from original underground mines that date back to 1893. There are about 3,000 kilometres of old mine workings under this area. In its expected life span of 16 years, the mine will produce more than 10 million ounces of gold (300 tonnes).
Open cut mining at Fimiston has developed significantly since 1983 and is well understood by KCGM. Mining methods and operations have reached a "steady state" in which the relative levels of risk are well understood. KCGM already manages much of the risks of the core business of open pit mining. These include geological modelling, grade control, mine design, presence of old workings, pit slope stability, environmental and community issues.
Since late 1999, KCGM has owned and operated the mining equipment at Fimiston. Previously, a contractor was responsible for the load and haul operations within the pit.
MINING THE FIMISTON OPEN PIT
A planned sequence of events is carried out when mining a pit involving identifying the resource, extracting it and then treating the material in a mill to produce the final product - gold bullion.
The following activities are contracted out and managed by KCGM;
To maintain control of costs and efficiency, open pit mining requires close attention to geology, planning, scheduling of earthmoving equipment, drill and blast technology and safety. Through constant monitoring and improvement, each interlocking aspect of open pit mining aims to control and reduce costs and improve the extraction of ore from the ground in the most efficient and safest manner.
About 85 million tonnes of ore and waste are removed from the Fimiston Open Pit each year. About 12 million tonnes of ore are treated at the Fimiston Mill and the remaining 73 million tonnes of waste are transported to various waste dumps surrounding the pit perimeter.
These waste dumps are rehabilitated using vegetation that is common to the Eastern Goldfields area.
Mining is carried out 7 days per week, 24 hours per day, 365 days a year in the Open Pit.
Whilst mining in ore blocks the shovel digs along the same angle that the orebody lies in order to minimise dilution. Face shovels are ideally suited to the mining of regular ore blocks as the configuration of the hydraulic face shovel's digging action and bucket shape are able to sustain minimal dilution of ore blocks down to a six metre width. The large hydraulic shovels are able to achieve relatively consistent floor levels, cleaner faces, clean ore zone contact and work higher bench faces.
Caterpillar's Computer Aided Earthmoving System (CAES) is used to assist shovel operators in identifying material types. Using satellite navigation technology, the shovel position is displayed in real time on a computer screen in the cab along with the current position of the shovel in the pit and a map showing the type of material (ie waste, subgrade, ore) in the area to be dug. The CAES also shows the operator where the underground workings are located in the pit. This helps to reduce risks to operators and equipment.
Mining is carried out using three Komatsu PC8000 face shovels, 20 Cat 793C trucks and nine pieces of support equipment - dozers, graders and water carts.
The objective of the roster system is to maximise the efficient use of the mining equipment without any compromise on safety. Whilst operators are taking their scheduled breaks, the maintenance personnel have planned access to the equipment for servicing, inspections and minor repairs or adjustments, without affecting load and haul productivity.
Presently, there are a number of projects happening in the Fimiston Open Pit - the Stores Cut, the environmental improvement plan for the Croesus site and the southern pit development.
KCGM is planning to integrate the rehabilitation of the old Croesus mine and mill site with the Greening the Golden Mile project (See Environmental Management brochure). This will involve backfilling the Croesus Pit - situated at the northern most end of the Open Pit - recontouring the Croesus waste dump and run of mine pad and revegetating the area with plants native to the Goldfields. The recontouring of the site will improve the visual landscape and act as a noise barrier at the northern end of the KCGM operations.
The backfilling of the Croesus open pit will improve the public safety of the area after closure and will also make the best use of viable material for rehabilitation where these materials would otherwise be buried. KCGM is also planning to further develop the southern end of the Open Pit. This will involve degazetting Outram Street and building a new connection between the Eastern Bypass and Mt Monger Road. The Mt Monger road will join the Eastern Bypass Road about 100 metres to the north of the Gribble Creek crossing.
The proposed road modification will allow KCGM to better schedule the southern pit development. It will also permit rationalisation of haul road access to rockfill waste dumps providing significant cost savings. KCGM will fund construction of the new road and it is anticipated that earthworks would begin in the second half of 2000 and the road would be commissioned early in 2001.
Both long and short term planning is undertaken at the Fimiston Open Pit. This is to ensure that a steady mining rate is maintained and the pit is developed safely and efficiently. The production team does the day to day planning of the running of the mine. Using computer programs that design three-dimensional images of the pit, the engineers can work out the best way to develop the pit to extract the resource. The development of mining schedules begins with the design of cutbacks or "blast masters" using "Vulcan" mine planning software. The blast master details all blast parameters for benches likely to be mined.
Each blast master consists of individual blast blocks that are designed perpendicular to the strike of the Lodes (north-south) to ensure displacement of ore upon blasting is along the ore body strike, hence minimising dilution.
The blast master is cut against an ore body model made up from the long-term "Datamine" (mine planning software) ore body model and previous benches grade control information. This assigns tonnages, grades and material types for each blast block, which is then imported into the "in-house" graphic-based scheduling system from which the extraction sequence is developed.
The schedules are often complex as the specific ore feed requirements to the mill and stockpiles, including blending for gold and sulphur, must be balanced with longer term open pit production objectives. Scheduling is further complicated by the limited areas available which restrict the flexibility of the day-to-day operation and the fact that ore is exposed prior to the mining of waste on any given horizon. This necessitates the installation of temporary ramp systems prior to the installation of long-term haulage ramps.
KCGM planning personnel are responsible for the development of monthly production schedules and working designs. These schedules are designed within the confines of the budget targets, after analysis and adjustment for actual physical and cost performance, mill requirements, equipment availabilities and long term-planning guidelines.
The Kalgoorlie goldfields lie within the Norseman-Wiluna Belt, in the Eastern Goldfields. This is a greenstone belt, consisting of volcanic and sedimentary rocks, intruded by a number of doleritic sills. The greenstones are surrounded by extensive granite. These rocks all belong to the Archaean period of the Earth's history and are between 2.9 and 2.6 billion years old.
The main host rock for the ores is the Golden Mile Dolerite, the largest of the intrusive sills in the district. The Kalgoorlie-Boulder ores occur in two very distinctive forms: the Golden Mile lodes and the younger quartz vein network at Mt Charlotte. This quartz vein style of mineralisation is present in a few other smaller deposits in the district.
Structurally, the goldfield is characterised by early thrust faulting, folding and late strike-slip faulting. Golden Mile mineralisation is associated with fracturing and shearing during this latter phase of deformation. A final period of faulting is closely associated with the Mt Charlotte-style quartz veining.
Golden Mile mineralisation is characterised by a very complex pattern of closely spaced faulting, shearing and intense shattering of rocks. Lodes have several characteristic orientations, with slightly different mineralisation styles. Individual lodes may be up to 1800 metres long, 1200 metres in vertical extent and 10 metres wide. Highest gold grades are typically associated with gold-silver-mercury tellurides and alteration minerals with high vanadium contents. The gold is mineralogically complex and refractory during processing.
KCGM has a combined gold resource of 377.6 million tonnes containing 29.1 million ounces of gold (as at 31 December 1999). Of this total, 331.2 tonnes containing 26.6 million ounces occurs in the Golden Mile lodes.
Reserves, as at 31 December 1999, were 184.2 million tonnes at 2.3 grams per tonne for 13.5 million ounces of gold. The bulk of this is located in the Fimiston Open Pit with a reserve of 171.2 million tonnes containing 12.8 million ounces of gold. The process of drilling and interpretation is ongoing and KCGM expects the reserve inventory to continue to grow.
4. TRIPPING TO TARNAGULLA
by Walter Forsythe
Seeing I was on the receiving end last time I went out with "Wack", I was intent on getting back at him - with a subtle vengeance. So it was when we headed off from Bendigo on the crisp Sunday morning a few weeks ago, that I was hell bent on getting my own back on him, no matter what. Of course I didn't tell him that, but he knew that I would be trying to get my own back as my previous outing to the Whipstick had somewhat backfired.
So too, would Wack be trying to "get me" in his own indomitable way, by some devious means. Of course neither of us would harm the other, just in our sly way, "take the mickey" out of each other - if we could.
I didn't really mind, as I trusted his judgement on where we would be going - but anything to stop that incessant warbling. I think he was a little put out when I asked where we were going. "Now why do you ask that?" he asked. "You know I won't disappoint". I didn't have the heart to tell him his singing was horrible, and that was the reason, but trundle along we did, slipping into the little town of Tarnagulla less than an hour out of Bendigo. I thought we would be going straight through - and was surprised when the ute came to a grinding halt just at the northern end of this old gold town, right opposite a quaint little cottage.
Without a word he headed across the road into the yard and knocked on the door. No answer! He tried again but was soon back in the ute. I knew better than to ask him who he was trying to find - but I did anyway. The answer was the usual denial so I let it go. Doing a U-turn we headed back out of town. At last I thought we would be into the gold fields shortly and would get down to some serious detecting, or so I thought. We have only gone a short way when Wack turned an area I knew had claims over it. I again inquired saying, "Hey mate, this ground is all leased isn't it?" "Yeah" he replied wryly. I left it at that.
Soon we came to a bush camp - just off the main Dunolly Road, and in front of us was a little activity. By an old bush shed were three blokes, all sitting around an old table that had certainly seen better days, seating on chairs that looked like they had been recovered from a rubbish tip. The grin on Wack's face was infectious, and we were soon seated at the table seated while the old billy boiled on the open fire. Wack introduced me to his old mate, Dick Nicolson, who was running a sluicing operation here. Being a Sunday, work seemed a low priority so we just enjoyed the time and the cuppa and talked about the price of gold, and more importantly - where we might get some, with the detectors.
Now this little sluicing operation seemed to be quite a set up. Primitive maybe, but inventive for sure. Dick wouldn't give much away of course, but clearly he wouldn't be here if he was not getting his share of gold from the sluicing operation.
Dick suggested that we should try his lease just to the south, so leaving the ute at the shed we did just that. Working to the south both of us using 14" Coiltek coils, we found that the gold here was quite small. We worked for a while with these coils but almost together we decided that the elliptical coil would be more beneficial with such small gold so close to the surface.
We worked there for a couple of hours before lunch, wandering almost too far from the camp to return for
lunch. But return we did as the company had been good and if you're invited, as we were, it would be rude not to show up.
After a rather long lunch during which I had the opportunity to take Dick aside and tell him of my intention to play a joke on Wack. Dick grinned in acceptance and together we plotted against Wack. I had a half ounce piece with me, and asked Dick to "plant" it in the ground that we knew Wack would be heading back to after lunch. I know exactly where he would start and told Dick where to plant it. I quietly watched as he quietly walked over to the spot and planted in just beneath the surface.
The scene was set for me to have my revenge on Wack, as we had previously agreed that today what we found we would share. Heading back there after lunch, fully replenished Wack headed straight towards the site and then unexpectedly turned away and walked about 50 yards further on and then started detecting. This posed a dilemma for me - but the afternoon was young, and I just had to organise for Wack to head back towards this spot.
I might as well have asked for the tide to turn around. He simply ignored me. I found a few more little pieces, and at about 4pm, we headed back to camp and had another cuppa. I was disappointed that Wack hadn't even been near that spot - so I quietly slipped back to where Dick had planted the nugget and swept the detector over the spot. Nothing. Not a darn signal at all. I walked back to camp and asked Dick to come with me, while Wack was still talking to his other mates. We searched for about 30 minutes without success. This was a ½ ounce nugget I was talking about, but eventually I gave up the search, asking Dick to have a better look in the morning light. I knew Dick had planted the nugget, I had seem him do it.
I wasn't going to let on to Wack what I had done at all - but was pretty miffed about leaving a nugget of that size behind. I was pretty quite on the way home, but Wack was his usual happy self - whistling and singing in his awful style almost all the way back. I felt pretty miserable by the time we reached his home.
5. WEDDERBURN GOLD
by Barrie Johnson
The Southern and Central portions of the Loddon Tourism Area form part of Tourism Victoria's, "Goldfields Tourism Region". The majority of the worlds largest nuggets have been found in this area.
Due to the lack of water to wash auriferous gravels the initial rush lasted only a few years. Rich finds in other areas also had their effect. However, quartz miners sank shafts to locate hidden reefs and a public crushing plant was opened in 1859. This activity kept mining going until the end of the 19th Century when farming took over as the major industry in the area. The Government Battery at Wedderburn continued to operate intermittently right through to present times and gold mining companies have come and gone with varying degrees of success. The last major effort around this period was in 1910 when a large gold dredge was pressed into operation. However this soon collapsed once again due to a lack of water.
Other than small casual prospecting it was in the 1950's before gold hit the news again. A Wedderburn resident, Mr. Dave Butterick, who had been mining his back yard for three years, discovered three nuggets with the largest being 5 ounces. This created enormous publicity and according to newspapers of the era over 6,000 people poured into Wedderburn the weekend after the find was announced. A Mr. Albert Smith had also received permission to mine the road outside the Butterick's house and he found another nugget. This publicity started another gold rush, but again lack of water and difficulty of digging the rock hard ground quenched people's enthusiasm and Wedderburn settled down again.
The beginning of the current gold rush began in the 1960's with the invention of the modern metal detectors. As these devices started to become available prospectors headed for the goldfields and large nuggets started to appear. The first time prospectors did not need water as they had a tool in their hands that told them that a piece of metal was buried a few centimetres under the ground. These were "metal detectors", rather than "gold detectors". So for every piece of gold found many bullets, nails, etc. were dug up. However for the prospectors that persevered the rewards could be high.
As the technology improved nuggets started to emerge in ever increasing numbers. In July 1980 three boys on a detecting excursion found a large nugget at Beggary Hills, another local found an 18 oz. Piece a couple of days later followed by more finds, within a week 130 ounces had come out of the ground. This was only the start with Kevin Hillier finding the "Hand of Faith", in October 1980. This is the largest known nugget found in Australia with a detector and weighed 720 oz. It was sold to the Golden Nugget Saloon in Las Vegas for a reputed $1,000,000 and is still on display there. Another rush started and a few years later an Australian firm, Minelab Electronics started marketing a range of high technology metal detectors that has kept the gold rush going ever since. Large nuggets are still coming out with weights up to several hundred ounces whilst hundreds of other nuggets ranging down to less than a gram are being found each week by fossickers and professional detector users.
From the above it can be seen that this area is full of the history of gold discovery in Australia and it is still a flourishing industry. If you have a detector or gold panning dish try your luck in our creeks and goldfields, you never know when you may strike it rich. Goldfields maps can be obtained from tourist outlets in various towns within the Loddon Shire, and if you are not detecting just roam around the area and soak up the atmosphere of the gold fields.
6. IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF STURT
by Jim Foster
"I think the summer will be hot and also very dry, The western squatters' gaze will be directed on the sky. There's no doubt about the seasons in this unfriendly west, Tis true what Henry Lawson wrote, They're wicked at their best."
So said Mat O'Connor, lately of Tibooburra in his poem, Corner Country. From a tourist's point of view I have to disagree with Mr. O'Connor, it can be very pleasant in the Corner Country during winter. Especially when you come from the wet and dreary winter of south eastern South Australia.
For the last three years members of our detector club have made the pilgrimage north to Tibooburra seeking sunshine and gold; we have yet to be disappointed. Coming at Tibooburra from Broken Hill the road is a mixture of clay, gravel and very welcome sealed stretches that allow good time to be made. Most of the stretches of clay road could be traversed comfortably at speeds up to 95km an hour in our old Nissan Campervan. Petrol and diesel fuel is available at Pack Saddle and Milparinka which makes the trip reachable for almost any vehicle if made during business hours. Creek crossings and the numerous "dips," should always be approached with a deal of caution.
Even the sealed creek crossing at Packsaddle had some nasty holes in it that must have caught many drivers unprepared. Just because the road is sealed it does not mean there will be no deep holes in it. There is a cement crossing somewhere on the track, I can never remember where, that looks good, but will shake your head from your shoulders and then spit you back out onto the road like a melon pip if hit too fast. About 10 km. south of Milparinka the pass in a low range of hills appears as a notch. Here the road changes from clay to rock and as you pass Peak Hill Homestead the change in the country is dramatic.
Gone is the flat, sandy, scrub covered country. Here is the beginning of a stony desert. Low rises covered in white quartz pebbles give the country the appearance of having suffered a severe hail storm. Low ranges, blued with distance, ring the horizon drawing the eye from the devastation of a sun blasted land. At Milparinka, on Evelyn Creek, there stands a pub which serves cold beer and dispenses other necessities of life. Next door is the old courthouse, a beautiful example of how much trouble early settlers went to when they thought the settlement may be permanent. But the gold ran out, as it always does. North west of Milparinka is Depot Glen, and Mount Pool homestead. It was here, at Depot Glen, that the explorer Charles Sturt and his party of 15 men, six drays, 30 bullocks, 11 horses, and a boat, was trapped for six months by a severe drought.
Sturt and his party were restricted to Depot Glen by the fact that no ground water was available. They could neither proceed north, or retreat to the south. They were marooned on a tiny oasis in some of the most hostile country in the world. Help could not reach them nor they help. In the event of accident or sickness they were dependent entirely on their own - resources.
We, just over 150 years later, enjoyed temperatures in the low 20s, clear skies, and just enough breeze to keep the flies down very pleasant indeed. Near the Depot Glen campsite there lies the last resting place of Sturt's second in command, James Pool, who died of peritonitis. A cement obelisk, sparsely shaded by an ancient grevillea tree marks his grave. Others have joined him there since. It is a eerie feeling to run your fingers over the initials JP and the date of his death, carved into the living wood of the grevillea on that day more than 150 years ago. From the tiny cemetery on the banks of Depot GIM Mount Pool can be seen with its cap of piled rock, a cairn that Sturt and his men erected while they waited out the killing summer heat. The mount also overlooks the old Good Friday goldfield and the ghost town of Albert.
Sturt and his men could not have envisaged that near they were camped in the centre of a large gold bearing district. In 1867, just 22 years after James Pool died in the desert wilderness, gold was found near Depot Glen. Over the next 30 years gold was dug, washed, and dry blown across a huge area around Depot Glen. Stretching from Mount Brown in the south to Tibooburra in the north, gold was won from the desert soil. It came from three types of deposits.
During the time gold was won from the desert soil, a miner could expect between 1.5 to 3 pennyweights of gold from a drayload. At that time gold brought 4 shillings a pennyweight (40t for 1.6 grams). Gold was separated from the soil mostly by puddlers when water was available. Sometimes the miners stockpiled their paydirt for a year or more while awaiting a gully washer to fill their dams. While they waited for rain they reverted to dry blowing for gold to make enough money to survive.
Tibooburra and the surrounding fields were poor mans fields. Diggings where any small miner could make some money. Fortunes were rarely if ever made and large mining companies gave the field a miss. In 1883 some 2450 ounces of gold were sent by escort from the Tibooburra diggings. Probably that much again was carried away privately from the outer diggings.
Entering the town of Tibooburra on the last short stretch of sealed road is a bit of a shock after the vast emptiness and hours of dusty travel. The imposing two storey Tibooburra hotel draws the eye first. Then the Family Hotel, famous for its paintings by renowned Australian artists. But probably the most important sight is that of petrol pumps.
I was having the Nissan filled and yarning with the owner of the garage when he told me about an incident from a few days earlier. Some four wheel drive tourists had been passing through, he said. And they stopped for petrol. First he filled the tank, then they opened the back door and asked that he fill the jerry cans there. The cans were sitting on the floor under a raised deck on which sat a gas fridge. Flipping the top of the first can, he began filling the can when there was a sudden explosion that singed his face and hair. Pulling the nozzle from the can he grabbed the flaming jerry can and threw it out into the street. He pointed to a large blackened spot on the road. "That's where it finished up," he said. "And I'm damn lucky that a black grease spot isn't all that's left of me. The world is full of fools and it seems a good share of them pass through here." I paid the man and left, wondering what sort of person would store jerry cans of petrol under a burning gas fridge. We were now replenished and heading for the gold fields, at last.
7. BEN HALL - BUSHRANGER - PART4
by Craig Wilson
Hall and his gang next appeared on August 21st at Jugiong Creek, near Yass. Capturing all and sundry as they approached the bridge they took them into the bush ties them up and robbed them. Later the same day the Gundagai mail coach approached and that too was taken into the bush and the passengers robbed along with the mail. On August 25th the gang held up the mail coach again near Jugiong, again relieving the passengers and the mail of all valuables.
After robbing a few individual travellers at various locations the gang again held up a mail coach on September 25th near Yass. It was after this robbery that Dunleavy decided to leave the gang. He had been wounded and his wound was infected and he was tired of life on the run. With the assistance of the Catholic priest Father McGuinn, he rode into Bathurst and gave himself up. He was tired, convicted and sentenced to 15 years.
Hall and Gordon again robbed Beggan Beggan Station on 27th September, taking a large quantity of jewellery. On October 6th Jamison's Station was taken over by the bushrangers. They stayed the night only leaving in the early morning. A racehorse was stolen from the adjoining property as they left. James Gordon now made a decision to leave the Hall gang - as he decided this was not the lucrative life he had expected. A few days after leaving he was arrested by a party of police near Urana. He was subsequently sentenced to 25 yrs imprisonment.
At about this time Father Timothy McCarthy made an effort to encourage Hall to surrender to authorities. Clearly he had several meetings with Hall, with the full knowledge of the authorities, who encouraged him in this endeavour.
On 24th October the gang attacked Grogan station robbing the inhabitants, and later that same day held up Bean's Inn at Frankfield. A few hours later the Yass mail coach was stopped and plundered. The following day the gang was seen near Dalton late in the morning and they then moved on to Jerrawa where they discovered a police party had passed through a few hours earlier.
Next day near Jugiong Creek the gang held up a number of travellers as they waited for the mail coach from Gundagai, which they robbed. On the evening of November 8th the gang held up Rossiville station where they demanded a meal. On November the 9th just south of Goulburn the trio took over the Great South Road, stopping all and sundry and taking them into the bush where they were tied to trees. Next came the Sydney mail coach which was also taken into the bush and robbed, along with the passengers. From here the gang moved to McAleer's Inn at Mummel. Here they treated all and sundry to food and drink and paid for it. On November 11th the mail coach from Yass was stuck up near the Breadalbane Plains. Four days later they held up the Gundagai mail coach at Reedy Creek.
The police had been organising well behind the scenes - with two contingents in plain clothes having been despatched to hunt down the Hall gang. As a direct result of the number of mail coach robberies near Goulburn a police escort was arranged for each coach carrying mail, with a trooper riding alongside the driver and armed with rifles and pistols.
Hall and his gang ignored the police and on November 17th the gang held up several travellers on the Jugiong Road. In the first couple of hours they captured five carts with 30 Chinese, 12 teamsters and their waggons, and three other individual travellers. James McLaughlin, a mounted trooper then approached and the gang confronted him. He drew his pistol and fired all six shots at the bushrangers, who returned his fire. He was out gunned and out of ammunition and he had little choice but to surrender. Finally the Gundagai mail coach approached. This was the prize the gang wanted. Mounted atop the coach was Constable William Roche who was well armed. Behind the mail coach at some distance rode Sub-Inspector William O'Neill and Sergeant Edmund Parry in support.
The bushrangers started towards the coach, but on seeing the escort to the rear turned and rode back up the hill a distance before turning and galloping towards the coach once again. The trooper atop the coach sprung into action but was ordered by the driver and a Magistrate inside the coach - not to fire. The gang first turned their attention to the rear escort and Hall and Dunn rode straight at the Inspector and the Sergeant who fired at them, the bandits returning fire. Parry took aim at Hall with his single shot rifle and fired. He missed and with Hall closing threw the weapon at Hall, hitting him in the head.
Gilbert now joined the fray and engaged Parry, while Hall and Dunn singled out the Inspector, who continued to fire until he was overcome by Hall and Dunn who presented pistols at his head at close range. He surrendered.
Now an accessory to murder, Hall has lost any chance of surrendering to authorities and receiving only a prison sentence. What was plainly obvious from the prisoners who witnessed this murder was the callous way Hall reacted to the murder. He showed not one iota of interest in the dead man, leaving him where he lay.
On December 3rd the gang again held up a number of people on the Burrowa Road. Over 40 travellers were captured and robbed on this day. On December 5th they robbed the Burrowa Binnalong mail coach.
The Hall gang continued to hold up travellers on main mail coach routes some hours before their real target - the mail coaches came along. The gang was in full flight, but the police net was beginning to close on the notorious bushrangers.
8. FLECKS ! - Glints from here and there
9. WORLD GOLD COUNCIL - POLICY
by Katherine Knight
On April 11th this year Mr Robert Pringle, the World Gold Council Corporate Director, Public Policy and Research was guest speaker at the Australian Gold Conference. Many of his remarks were of particular note, and some of these are reproduced, as the scope and direction of his keynote speech makes both intriguing and informative reading.
On the overall trend of gold and gold holdings Mr. Pringle made the following remarks.
"Let us start by putting this whole question of official holdings into perspective. The overall trend here is clear, overall holdings rose steadily, reaching a peak around 1970. After that they levelled off, although there has been a slight downward trend. An interesting point to make is that during the years of the classic gold standard, which lasted until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, levels of gold in official reserves were quite low. Why? Because much of the gold was in private hands and circulating as money. The troubled political and economic situation of the first half of the twentieth century saw governments and central banks accumulating gold and in some cases ordering their citizens to hand over their private holdings.
This process is documented in a report we published last November by Timothy Green on central bank gold reserves since 1845.
The growth continued during the 1950s and 1960s, but was marked by a big shift in the distribution of gold from the US to Europe, as the US paid for its deficit partly in gold.
On the position of gold as a stable commodity relating to reserves held by central banks, Mr. Pringle said,
"The overall picture is one of massive stability. Based on data published by the International Monetary Fund, which probably under estimates the total, as some countries do not report their gold holdings. Looking over the experience of recent years there are some moments that I look on as milestones.
We have also seen in recent years two significant one-off sales from outside Europe: those by Australia and Argentina, both in 1997, as well as a continuing programme of sales by Canada.
The last few years have also seen what I call the growth of the "anti-gold" lobby. There are a number of economists and analysts who believe gold is in long-term and irreversible decline as a monetary and reserve asset, and that central banks will, or should, sell down all their reserve holdings. The issue, as they see it, is simply a matter of how long the process takes.
We now arrive at 1999 - a year which was momentous for the yellow metal. The first eight and a half months of the year were a gloomy period for the gold industry since market sentiment was dominated by three major actual or proposed sales of official gold: the planned sale by the Swiss, first proposed in 1997; the proposed sales of IMF gold to finance debt relief to developing countries - an idea originally proposed some years earlier but which gained a new lease of life in 1999 - and the UK sales announced in May.
However the old saying is that "it is always darkest just before the dawn". The industry fought back hard against the effect of these sales and proposed sales. Our strongest weapon proved to be the effect of a falling gold price on the economies of many of the poorest countries of the world - including many of the countries which the IMF debt relief initiative was intended to help - as well as crucial countries such as South Africa. The publication A Glittering Future, which we produced in the World Gold Council documented the catastrophic effect that a falling gold price would have on these economies and was immediately accepted as a credible and authoritative piece of evidence.
These arguments were put forward vigorously by both the gold industry and by the governments of some of the affected countries, notably South Africa. They started to have an impact and in September it became clear that the IMF was abandoning its plan to sell gold and seeking to find a means to revalue its gold instead using the book profit thus generated to fund its share of debt relief."
On the Question of the signatories to the Washington Agreement - the scenario painted by Mr. Pringle is also worthy of consideration.
"The Washington agreement on Gold will remain an important element of global monetary reserves.
The above institutions will not enter the market as sellers, with the exception of already decided sales. The gold sales already decided will be achieved through a concerted programme of sales over the next five
years. Annual sales will not exceed approximately 400 tonnes and total sales over this period will not exceed 2,000 tonnes.
I think it is worthwhile underlining just how unprecedented the Washington Agreement is. Central Banks are cautious institutions. They are normally heavily reluctant to commit themselves. The fact therefore that 15 central banks have combined to commit themselves publicly to this course of action is historic. This alone underlines the importance of gold to a number of European central banks.
In addition to the 15 signatories other major gold holders - the USA, the IMF, the BIS and Japan - have associated themselves with the Washington Agreement. In total therefore we know that
over 26,000 tonnes of central bank gold - around 80% of the total - has been ring-fenced.
Clearly the World Gold Council believes that Central Banking organisations and the IMF, along with numerous other organisations recognise the global economic effects on gold losing its lustre. What is most pleasing is that many of the world's most influential monetary organisations are now moving to protect the industry globally. We can but trust that the World Gold Council continues to influence governments and those responsible for maintaining global economies with sound and logical arguments that will preserved the gold industry world wide.
10. MAN AND GOLD - Part 3
by Jim Foster
From the earliest of days gold has had value. Even if it was that a nugget made a handy missile heavy enought to stun a small animal. It soon became valued as personal ornaments and it is thought that gold was probably the first metal to be smelted and beaten into objects that could be usefully utilised by people.
By the time nations had arisen most of the easy gold was gone, the most obvious choice was then to mine the rich quartz reefs that had shed the free gold. But hard-rock mining was hard and dangerous work that free men did not choose to do. The answer was to use slaves. These were expendable, their lives, while valuable had less value to their captors than did the gold they could mine. Lacking metals hard enough to crack the brittle quartz one of their earliest methods of mining gold from the host reef was to light a fire up against the face of the reef. Stoking the fire day and night until the reef was super heated was another job for the slaves, but then came the real danger. So dangerous was the next step that only slaves of low value were used.
Sour wine was to be poured over the red-hot quartz reef from large skins. Standing on scaffolding just above the reef the slaves would release the wine so it sluiced down over the reef, exploding into clouds of steam as it contacted the rock. Thermal stressing of quartz often produces a violent reaction, an explosion of sharp edged quartz shards will explode outward like the shrapnel of many hand grenades exploding at once. Slaves often died a horrifying death from either breathing in the superheated steam, being sliced to bits by flying quartz shards, or from falling onto the hot quartz, often a combination of all three. As civilisation progressed and better metals were discovered mining of gold became safer, but only maginally so. With better metals and a greater knowledge of geology mining methods allowed the following down of gold bearing quartz reefs and deeper alluvial leads. Now it wasn't so much death from flying quatz shards that threatened lives but falling rock, bad air, and in-flooding water. For slaves the method of dying differed from earlier times but they still died in large numbers and still in horrifying circumstances.
Ealy civilisations such as Phonecia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, spread out over the then known world gathering gold for the coffers of their nations. Gold that was to be used to pay their armies to conquer more people and land, land where more gold could be mined. They used the conquered people as slaves to gather the riches of their own country and carry it away. It has often been said that gold is the root of all evil, as quoted in the bible, but this is not really true. It was said that gold was the root of all evil, but only because the more valued coins of the day were gold. It was actually meant that money was the root of all evil, not gold itself.
As mans knowledge of metals and mining methods grew, mining became safer. And by the time the great goldrushes of California and Australia came about mining was considered much safer. Hard-rock mining was still an uncertain science but better and safer methods were being employed. It was only places such as in Russia, China, and some third world countries that prisoners were being forced to dig for gold. As the world moved into the twentieth century gold mining had become almost as safe as any other employment. With the introduction of heavy machinery it was no longer as hard as work as it had been. Even underground huge trucks and mining shovels did the hard work. Much of the underground work is being done by remote control and it it is rarly that a miner dies from an accident. In fact, today, a miner is often safer underground than he is driving home from work. Many mines now don't even have underground drives, they mine by the open cut method, huge, yawning, pits that drive day by day ever deeper searching for more and more gold.
Of all the gold ever mined since the first ingot was smelted much of that gold still remains in circulation today. As new gold is mined and smelted so too is old gold jewellery, often stolen, resmelted. Gold that once adorned Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, and the crowned heads of Euope is still in circulation. That simple gold wedding ring you wear as a symbol of love may well contain gold that Cleopatra wore on her last night on earth, but the poison of the asp will be long gone.
11. STRIKES Recent Finds
12. THE SLEEPING GIANT
by Sue "Goldie" Reynolds
One million square miles is a lot of ground on this earth, and to ever travel over such a vast area and see it all would perhaps take a lifetime.
To the north in the tropical areas the rainfall in the wet season is prolific with 100 inches being a normal yearly rainfall. In recent years a massive man made dam has been constructed. Lake Argyle is an imaginative and monolithic project that has opened up the top end of Western Australia.
In the south eastern corner of Western Australia lie some of the most spectacular forests in the world. Pristine areas that harbour great stands of hardwood, both Jarrah and Karri. Although some forestry is allowed the majority of these forests are now protected.
The rest of Western Australia could properly be described as desert. In fact at least 80% of this State is desert. But in this desert lies a fantastic plethora of mineral riches that make this State one of the wealthiest in Australia and in fact the world. The mineral riches of this State have been well known.
Gold from the region centred around Kalgoorlie has been pouring forth for over 100 years and this State produces about 200 tons of gold each year, and is well capable of much more, given the vast quantities of auriferous land.
In recent years gas and oil exploration at sea off the north west coast has developed into a massive industry. Other minerals, such as Diamonds, Manganese, Vanadium, Nickel, Cobalt, Bauxite, Alumina, Lead and Ammonia urea, have been discovered and are being mined in ever increasing quantities. The diamond industry started with pink diamonds being found on top of the ground. For some time the company with the lease only concentrated on collecting diamonds that were on top of the ground, they were so prolific.
In terms of development some figures are of interest. During 1999, the value of mineral production in W.A. was AUD$16.7 billion. Capital expenditure for new projects was almost $ 5 billion. Petroleum exploration investment was 531 million, and over 20 new projects over 10 million dollars were commenced.
In terms of development projects the value of estimated expenditure in the foreseeable future is in excess of $30 billion dollars, the majority of that being spent in developing gas and oil projects, but the spread across the broad spectrum of minerals is extensive.
Among the projects presently being developed are the following.
Western Australia is indeed a sleeping giant. An awakening of this colossus in this fabulous State will undoubtedly enrich Australia handsomely in the future.
13. IS DETECTING RELAXING
by Craig Wilson
Someone once said that detecting is not relaxing. What does this guy do for a living?
Not only were the kangaroos bad that night - so were the koalas. And I'd nearly cleaned up a couple of wombats as well.
I had finally dropped off into an uneasy doze when I was woken by the loud cawing of a couple of dozen crows above my van and the patter of what sounded like rain on my roof but wasn't. Opening one eye I found it was daylight. Broad daylight, and the camp was wide awake. Jumping out of bed I quickly dressed and joined the other eager gold seekers.
Gold was found everywhere by everybody - except by me. I was at the teeth grinding smile stage, you know the one. Someone unearths a lovely nugget at an inch. You have just walked over it and they are rubbing it in. You smile and gush about how pretty it is and if you hold it this way it looks like a map of Tasmania. All the time fuming and thinking of where you'd like to put that bit of gold, and it ain't Tasmania!
The first day was beautiful but I hardly noticed. I was the only one without gold. Around the campfire the nuggets were passed around and everyone asked where my gold was. I rubbed the knee I'd hurt when failing over a stump and smiled through my teeth and said I'd missed out. Even the new-chums had found gold. It was time to gnash my teeth, drown my sorrows, and think of tomorrow as another day.
Later that night I staggered to my van, slipped on the step, banged my head, and crawled into bed. I did better than one of the other blokes. He was so blind he walked right past his van and would have walked away into the bush only he walked into a tree by another van and was rescued. I awoke the next morning with the kind of headache you wish you could give your worst enemy. A sickness in the pit of my stomach and a feeling of impending doom engendered by the sound of kettle drums in my head. Strapping on my detector I carefully followed the mob to the spot for the morning's hunt. Half an hour of walking through thick undergrowth, fighting in and out of brush choked gullies and dodging spider webs loaded with huge grotesque spiders and we arrived. It looked good. I knew I was going to find gold here. Eagerly switching on my detector I heard a weird warbling sound come from the earphones. The batteries were flat!
An hour later I arrived back, scratched from head to foot from the undergrowth and itching all over from the thought of all those spiders from the webs I'd rushed through. The rest of the mob had been having a great time. Several nice nuggets had been turned up on ground that had not seen a detector for years. Switching on I mustered every bit of experience and cunning I had and began detecting. I moved large bushes and logs and detected under them. I poked my coil in places a coil should never be poked. I carefully scanned around piles of quartz and ironstone. I dug handfuls of nails, enough lead-shot to load a packet of shotgun cartridges and a pocketful of .22 leads. But no gold. Finally, I dug a faint signal between two rocks and found a bit of gold the size of a match-head. Well, it was a beginning. Not much of a beginning to be sure, especially as it was the beginning of the end. I never found another colour for the weekend. I even took the club to my favourite spot. They found all the gold that was on the patch, but I found only more rubbish. And to make matters worse, I lost the bit of gold I did find.
Driving home that night I was only an hour from home when suddenly I thought I had been hit by a Scud missile. The windscreen went white with a bang that instantly overdosed my whole system on adrenalin. Frantically I looked for the little clear oval spot the makers cleverly place well out of line of sight and steered quickly off the road. All the while cursing the rapidly disappearing truck that had hurled the rock.
I finally arrived home, frozen stiff from the arctic wind that had collapsed the windscreen onto me in a shower of glistening glass particles, and crawled shivering into bed. As I lay there trying to sleep, my wife rolled over and smiled sweetly then told me I had better get some sleep. I had to be in at work two hours earlier in the morning. I smiled and relaxed. Two hours earlier? I couldn't wait. That's the thing about some detecting trips, you can't wait to get back to work - and relax.
14. THE GOLD THIEVES
by Jim Foster
I was detecting in central Victoria one autumn when I ran into another enthusiast. As is the want of detectorists everywhere we introduced ourselves and sat down on a handy log for a bit of a yarn. He was a bit older than me, quietly spoken and sounded easy going but his voice turned bitter when a flash four wheel drive sped past on a nearby track.
"There goes one of those blasted gold thieves," he said, gesturing toward the gleaming vehicle.
"How do you mean?" I asked. A little puzzled by the blunt statement.
He must have guessed from the look on my face that I still wasn't with him so he began to tell me his thoughts. "Last year," he said " took what will be my last long service leave before I retire. I went to the West, detecting over there they are everywhere you go, these blasted gold thieves." "What do you mean by gold thieves?" I said beginning to get exasperated. "Well, what do you want to do when you retire?" he asked. I thought about that for about a second, then said: "Well, one of the first things I want to do is go detecting in the West." "You'll be wasting your time," he said with that bitterness creeping back into his voice. "How so?" "There will be precious little gold left when I retire, let alone when you retire," he said with conviction.
That got my interest. "Last year in the West I stayed at Kalgoorlie for a while and every day you saw them come into town to put in their dole forms. They'd come in and put in for their dole and sell their gold. Sometimes they'd stay a few days and then head back out again." He picked up a stick and began to break it into small pieces and then continued. I snapped off a bracken fem and waved it at the flies that were finding us now we were stopped in one place.
He drew a deep breath and threw away the remains of the stick he'd been destroying. He was obviously upset about what he called 'those blasted gold thieves'. I could identify with his problem myself. I remembered different characters I'd met wandering around the diggings. Many of them very condescending to the weekend detectorist and classing themselves as 'Professionals'. They also bragged how they'd found 100 ounces last year and were doing even better this year.
Almost without exception these so called professionals had tried very hard to make me feel inadequate. They'd always tell me there wasn't much gold around where I was working and that they had just dropped in for a quick look. Then they were heading over to where there was a lot more nuggets. Bigger than anything that had been found around where we were.
If they were using a different detector to me they would tell me my machine was no good. The one they were using was better and they could follow me around and find gold I'd walked over. The worst part of it was they were insulting my intelligence. Only a fool would tell me where I could get more gold when they could be getting it themselves. It was all part of the game to them. Get rid of the true weekender in case he might blindly stumble over some good gold. The weekend prospector does it for fun not profit. I'm not saying we don't sell some gold. I sell some of mine each time I need to upgrade my detector. It helps make my hobby self-sufficient. The weekender detects to get out in the bush. It's the excuse to have time out in the clean bright air away from work and other worries. To the gold thieves it is work. Do they take the time to see the brightness of a summer morning? Do they raise their heads long enough to admire the bloom of golden wattle, or the tiny birds which flit from bush to bush? Not likely!
They have their heads down looking for a likely spot to whack a claim on so they can pull down the wattle and destroy the birds' nests. Many times they have pulled out of the claim without even trying to rehabilitate the site, leaving it an ugly mass of smashed trees and churned up clay. Quite often all for nothing.
I'm not saying the bonafide small miner is up to these things. There is plenty of good operators around who do the right thing at all times. Once again it is the so-called unemployed gold thief that I mean. What can we do to prevent the gold being stolen? As law abiding citizens who work hard and pay our taxes there isn't a lot of time that we can spend in the bush detecting. But the time we do spend there is precious. If the reason for being there is stolen from us, it will mean detector companies won't sell their detectors. Many small country towns will revert to being one step above ghost towns. Our hobby will die and the Australian economy will suffer.
The gold itself does not mean much to the economy. It is the huge amounts of money spent by the weekender on the search for gold, and the peace of the bush, that mean so much to the economy of small towns.
As for the gold thieves, you must use your own conscience as a guide. If you would report a burglar crawling through a window at night, you should ask yourself if the bloke I was talking to in the bush is right when he asks: "What is the difference?"
15. THE NEW LODE - Next Month's Issue