Full Record

Mining news The stock exchange of Perth A new process of gold extraction The Central G.M. Company Legislation for the mineral industry
Record no:
22 September 1890
The author John McCafferty is for letter to the editor section headed 'Legislation for the Mineral Industry'
Kept:Press clippings book 1, p. 55



The following are Saturday's quotations: —
Central sellers 7s 6d, buyers 5s;
Fraser's, sellers 4s, buyers 3s 10d;
Fraser's South (pro.) sellers 3s 3d, buyers 2s 3d;

Hope's Hill (con.) sellers 1s 3d, buyers 71/2 d;
Waterhall (pro.) sellers 2s; (con.) sellers 4d;
Yilgarn sellers 2s.
Bunbury (pro.) sellers 2s 6d;
Floyd (pro.) sellers 1s;
Greenbushes (pro.) sellers 3d;
Spring Gully (pro.) sellers 9d; do.  (con.) sellers 4d.  
Investment Stocks.  —
Fremantle Gas Co., sellers 27s 6d;
Perth Gas Co., sellers 22s 6d;
W.A. Fire, sellers 10s;
W.A. Mortgage, 20s;
Stanley Brewery, sellers 20s;
Swan Brewery, sellers 10s.  
W.A., buyers £25 7s 6d.



A newly invented process for extracting gold from pyrites, or other
refractory matrices, and treating other metallic ores, has just being
brought out in South Australia, and extensively patented.  It is the
invention of Mr Francis Hylton Molesworth, late lecturer at the Adelaide
School of Mines.  The process consists in calcining the pyrites in a
furnace at a low degree of heat, the process being expedited by the
introduction of a jet of gas, containing an excess of oxygen, into the
hollow cylinder in which the ore is being roasted.  The cylinder revolves
in the centre of the furnace at a slight inclination from the horizontal,
so that as it turns slowly round, the pulverised ore find its way
gradually from the upper to the lower end.  Within the cylinder are a
number of small flanges for the purpose of raising and carrying round the
ore, which by this means falls clear from the top to the bottom of the
cylinder, being thus exposed to the full force of the jet of gas blown in
at the lower end, which is entirely open.  Although very moderate heat (is
dull red) is maintained, the effect of the jet of oxygen on the particles
of pyrites is to produce bright corruscations.  The ore is fed into the
cylinder through a hopper at the upper end.  On the crown of the furnace
is an iron retort, charged with crude nitric of soda, which, being
moistened with acid, gives off oxygen gas, and this passes down through a
bent tube into the cylinder below.  As by-products the following acids are
obtained during the process: nitric and hydrochloric acids; and sulphuric
derived from the pyrites which are being treated.  These are conveyed in
the gaseous form into a close tank made for the purpose, where they are
condensed in water, collected and utilised during the latter part of the
process.  In the working model constructor by Messrs. May Bros., Gawler,
the cylinder made 40 revolutions in the hour, during which time 140 lbs.
of pyrites were completely desulphurised.  The dimensions of the furnace
were 6 ft. in height by the same in length, and 3 ft. in width, outside
measure.  The cylinder is 5 ft. in length by 12 inches diameter.  It is
estimated that with the cylinder 15 ft. in length by 2 ft. diameter, and a
furnace in proportion, 100 tons of ore per week could be treated, and a
complete plant could be erected, including a small engine, for less than
£300.  The entire cost of the process, including interest on the plant, is
said not to exceed 4s. per ton, while 3s. 6d would probably cover it.  The
time occupied in calcining a charge of pyrites, from the time it entered
the cylinder, until it dropped out at the lower end, was under 12 minutes,
and it has been done in less than half that time.  The next part of the
process is transferred the calcined ore to a bath of nitric and
hydrochloric acid (aqua regia) which dissolves the gold; a certain
proportion of sulphuric acid is also added.  After remaining in the acid
bath for from 15 to 30 minutes, the liquid is filtered through charcoal
which retains the gold, and the charcoal being put into a smelting furnace
the pure metal is recovered.  Mr Molesworth claims that his process will
save 95 per cent of the gold contained in pyrites.  Hitherto by most of
the ordinary processes it has been difficult to extract more than 50 or 60
per cent of the gold from pyrites, so that if the new process saves only
90 per cent it will be 30 or 40 per cent better than the best of the old
methods.  Not only is its advantage seen in saving 15 dwts. where only 10
were got before, but also in the lower cost of the operation so that 1
dwt. of gold would about cover the cost of extracting the 15 dwts.,
whereas 2 dwts. would be required under the old process to extract only 10
dwts. of gold.  Mr Molesworth claims, as a part of his patent, the right
to use any peroxides in treating ores, and to adapt the process to other
metals besides gold.  He is about to experiment on the zinc ores which
abound in the silver mines at and around Broken Hill, and is sanguine of
being able to separate the zinc, which, though valuable, is at present
lost for the most part.  He considers the same principle to be applicable
to the treatment of copper pyrites also.  The experiments have proved so
successful that Mr Molesworth and his friends have gone to great expense
in taking out patents for the invention in all the gold producing
countries of the world.  It is intended shortly to erected works in or
near Adelaide to treat 100 tons per week.  

Amongst other advantages by this process are:-

  • the saving in crushing the stone, as screens of 48holes to the square inch are quite fine enough, the desulphurising or calcining process causing the ore to pulverise easily in the acid bath.
  • In treating sulphide ores an excess of liquor is produced, and is available for the treatment of other stone containing "flour gold," which by this means is readily saved. 
  • The entire removal of the sulphur is not necessary so long as the pyrites are decomposed.  
  • It is impossible for the ore to slag as it must come out perfectly oxidised.

We often hear a new inventions which promise to do wonders in the
extraction of gold, but very few of them have been brought into practical
use in the colonies.  We have been patiently waiting for the introduction
of the "Pollok Patent," which was invented nearly three years ago.  Now we
have one of South Australian invention, cheaper, more rapid, and at least
as effective, and which can be set to work as soon as the plant is
erected.  In the words a gentleman who witnessed Mr Molesworth's process,
"We can give Pollok's Patent a long start and win hands down."  The office
of the syndicates is at Melvin Chambers, King William Street, Adelaide,
where full information can be obtained from Mr Charles Ballard, Secretary.
Adelaide, Sept 3.


Last week, the annual meeting of the Central Gold-Mining Company was held
in the Mechanics' Institute, Perth, Mr A. Forrest, Chairman of Directors,
presiding.  There was a large attendance of shareholders.  The chairman
presented the balance sheet as follows; —
To paid up capital account —
9520 shares of £1 each issued, paid up to 1s, — £476;
17 calls on above 9520 shares, making total paid up 11s 9d, £5117, total £5593;
sundry credtors [sic], £646 19s 2d; outstanding orders, £299 17s 5d;
National Bank of Australasia, £2076 0s 6d;
Machinery account, amount received for purchase, £2000; total, £10,615 17s 1d.  
Cr. —
By Central Area Purchase account, £476;
machinery account (cost up to date) £2489 13s 8d;
property, £692 2s 10d; office furniture, £9 19s 6d;
Gold in transitu [sic], £1571 10s;
Profit and loss account (balance) £5076 11s 1d;
Total — £10,715 17s 1d.
The profit and loss account started on the 31st Aug. 1889, with a debit account balance of £1922 11s 6d.  The expenditure during the year amounted to £5895 4s 11d, making total of £7817 16s 5d.  Against this was set the gold account of £2441 5s 4d, leaving the debit balance of £5376 11s 1d, referred to in the balance sheet.

The mine manager's report of the work done on the claim since he took
charge last January, was laid before the shareholders.  The directors'
report was as follows: —


GENTLEMEN, — Your directors beg to submit their second annual report,
together with balance-sheet and profit and loss account.

As you are aware there are 9520 shares in the company, which were issued
paid-up to 1s., these have since been paid-up to 11s 9d, this means a call
of 6s. 6d. per share during the past 12 months.

During the past year the quantity of stone crushed is 1070 tons, realising
771 oz. 9 dwt., worth about £3 12s. 6d. per oz. = £2795.

A report from the mine manager will be laid on the table.

The directors have ordered Berdan pans, but owing to the strike they have
not yet arrived.  This is considered necessary as by the various assays
the loss of gold is very great, from 3 dwt. to 28 dwt.

Your directors consider is advisable to move the machinery, and to effect
further improvements, also to make some change in the management, so as to
reduce the expenses.

A call will be absolutely necessary during the months of October and
November, of not less than 1s. each; this is owing to the small quantity
of stone crushed, and small results from same.

Your directors have every confidence in the mine, but owing to various
causes over which they have no control, the prospects are not such as were
expected, but still before next meeting they hope to be able to report
more favourably.

In accordance with Rule 2, two directors retire, Messrs. Park and Lacey,
both of whom are however eligible for re-election.

The auditors, Messrs., Thomas Sherwood and Ishmael Rogers also retire and
are eligible for re-election .

Messrs. Park and Lacey, retiring directors, were re-elected, and the
auditors, Messrs. Thomas Sherwood and Ishmael Rogers, were also re-elected.

Votes of thanks to the directors, brought the meeting to a close.



SIR, — As the people of this colony are about to assume a constitutional
form of government, their representatives to the first Parliament will
enjoy the enviable honour of framing the legislative enactments governing
the future internal and external operations of the State.  I shall
therefore take the liberty of calling attention to the necessity for
expansive legislation on behalf of the mineral industry of Western
Australia.  As I have had a varied experience with the mineral belts of
North America, ranging from Mexico to Alaska, I may justly claim the
privileges of an expert; therefore I shall assert that the quartz mining
of this colony is handicapped by the Goldfields Act.  In support thereof I
have only to quote from section 54, page 62: "The extent allowed for each
miner in any ordinary quartz claim shall be fifty feet along the supposed
line of reef by a width of (400) four hundred feet."  As few, very few,
lodes average over 10 feet in width, the proportions of such claims are,
to say the least, ridiculous.  No matter how rich the surface prospect
might be, the size of such a claim would necessarily prevent the
enlistment of capital.  Necessarily the enactment holds out no incentive
for the prospector.  The size of a quartz claim should be not only large
enough to encourage the industrious and intelligent prospector, but also
to readily justify the investment of all the capital necessary for its
development.  Pernicious legislation retards the progress of any people.
No miner, except through purchase, should be allowed more ground than that
contained within the dimensions of his claim, and therefore the Government
should not have the power to lease mining ground to any one.  It would be
greatly in favour of the industry if the size of mineral claims were made
to conform to the requirements of the mineral code of the United States of
America.  Again, no man, or company of men, should be allowed to locate
more than one claim on and along the same lode vein and reef.  In
connection therewith, I shall quote from section 15, page 50: "A miner may
himself, or by his agent, take up and hold any number of claims," &c., &c.
 This would seem to clash with section 54, page 62; but, as it does not,
it is no doubt the result of a job.

As I merely wish to direct attention to the subject matter, I shall most
respectfully suggest that that portion of the Mineral Act of British
Columbia covering quartz-mining operations be adopted by legislative
enactment, and which I herewith enclose for publication.
Yours, &c.

The following are the extracts from the British Columbian Mining Act,
referred to by Mr McCafferty: —

74.  In defining the size of claims they shall be measured horizontally,
irrespective of inequalities on the surface of the ground.  1884, c. 10,
s. 59.

75.  Any free miner desiring to acquire a right to mine any lands for
minerals, as hereinbefore defined, shall, subject to the provisions of
this is Act with respect to land which may be used for mining, enter upon
the same and locate a plot of ground 1500 feet long by 600 feet wide, in
the form of rectangular parallelogram; such plot of land shall be
described and recorded as a mineral claim, and all the provisions of this
Act relating to ordinary mining claims shall, when the same are
applicable, apply to mineral claims.  1886, c. 14, s. 6; 1888, c. 34, s. 16.

77.  The lawful holders of mineral claims shall have the exclusive right
and possession of all the surface included within the lines of their
locations, and of all veins, lodes, and ledges throughout their entire
depth the top or apex of which lies inside of such surface lines extended
downward vertically, although such veins, lodes, or ledges may so far
depart from a perpendicular in their course downwards as to extend outside
the vertical side lines of such surface locations; but their right of
possession to such outside parts of such veins or ledges shall be confined
to such portions thereof as lie between vertical planes drawn downwards as
above described, through the end lines of their locations so continued in
their own direction that such planes will intersect such exterior parts of
such veins or ledges; and nothing in this section shall authorise the
locator or possessor of a vein or lode which extends in its downward
course beyond the vertical lines of his claim to enter upon the surface of
a claim owned or possessed by another.  1884,c. 10, s. 64.

78.  Where two or more veins intersect or cross each other, priority of
title shall govern, and such prior location shall be entitled to all ore
or mineral contained within the space of intersection: Provided however,
that the subsequent location shall have the right of way through the said
space of intersection for the purpose of the convenient working of the
said mine; and provided, also, that where two or more veins unite, the
oldest or prior location shall take the vein below the point of union,
including all the space of intersection.  1884, c. 10, s. 65.

79.  Where a tunnel is run for the development of a vein or hole the owner
of such tunnel shall, in addition to any mineral claim legally held by
him, have the right to all veins or lodes discovered in such tunnel:
Provided that the ground containing such veins or lodes be marked out by
him as a mineral claim within three days after such discovery, and be duly
recorded; and provided further, that such lodes or veins are not included
in any existing mineral claim.  Any money or labour expended in
constructing a tunnel to develop a lode or vein shall be deemed to have
been expended on such lode or vein.  1884, c. 10, s. 66.

85.  Any free miner having duly recorded and located a mineral claim shall
be entitled to hold the same for the period of one year from the recording
of the same, provided that within the first six months from such recording
he shall have expended upon the claim itself money or labour to the amount
or value of one hundred dollars, and shall have satisfied the Gold
Commissioner or Mining Recorder of such expenditure by a detailed and
attested description of the work performed (but in case continuous work is
being prosecuted upon any claim, it shall not be necessary to obtain a
certificate of expenditure), and obtained from him, and recorded within
such six months a certificate of such expenditure.  If the certificate
shall not be so obtained and recorded the claims shall be deemed vacant
and abandoned; and in like manner as to each succeeding year the holder of
the mineral claim shall be entitled to hold the same for one year from the
re-recording of the same, if he shall expend within the first six months
from such re-recording money or labour upon the claim to the amount or
value of one hundred dollars, to the satisfaction of the Gold
Commissioner, and shall have obtained and recorded within such six months
a certificate of such expenditure.  1886, c. 14, s. 8: 1887, c. 22, ss. 3
and 5; 1888, c. 34, s. 18.
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