Romantic Story Behind Two Adelaide Mine Company Reports
By Our Stock Exchange Reporter
Stories of epic struggles to win gold wnere others naa failed lie behind announcements made this week about two of Adelaide's leading goldmining companies. The first report was of the theft of gold valued at £600 from a mine shaft, and the second revealed that in six years another firm had won more than £1,000,000 worth of bullion— the first Adelaide company to do so.
Blue Bird Gold Mines were victims of thieves, and Norseman Gold Mines achieved the distinction of being the first Adelaide organisation to take a million poimds out of the unwilling earth in yellow gold. Both companies own leases within a mile or two of the West Australian township of Norseman, which, mainly due to their activities, is now a thriving settlement enjoying a prosperity it has never known before. The early history of Blue Bird was one of continual struggles, often to meet obligations, but the investing public now knows it as the mine whose shares rocketed from Id. to £3 in two and a half years, providing more than one speculator with a small fortune. For years, until 1933, prospectors dug into the field, barely making a living from a reef which they 'followed until it suddenly disappeared. They gave up — and missed by a few feet one of the richest reefs known in mining history. Ear|y Struggles Chance played with the Blue Bird organisers even before they had formed the company.: Two Adelaide men— Mr, B. Johnsen, of Wunderlich Ltd, whose hobby was mining, and Mr. Norman A. Smith, secretary of several companies — went to Wiluna, 380 miles north of Kalgoorlie, late in 1934, in search of a suitable field for a company which had been formed. Two Wiluna leases, named the Blue Duck and the Black Swan, failed to satisfy them, and they were homeward bound when, at Kalgoorlie, they hap- pened to hear encouraging reports of a new find at Norseman. Negotiations were started immediately, and in Ade- laide a third 'bird' company was organised. On November 29, 1934. Blue Bird was born. Its struggle for life proved a hard one. The purchase price of the lease was 30.000 shares fully paid to 2/ in the new company and £5.500 in cash, pay able in instalments. By April. 1936. shares for which speculators had paid 1/ were worth 1/4 on the Stock Exchange, but when more money was needed and a call was made, holders of 40.000 shares showed their lack of faith in the ven- ture by ignoring the olea. The com- pany could not resell these forfeited shares even at Id. each. Resourceful Manager In September,' 1936, came the first rich crushing — 102 ounces of bullion from 78 tons of ore. Cash reserves, however, were desperately low. Every penny was needed to pay the vendors of the lease. December saw a crisis In the affairs of the mine. Only two or three days before another instal- ment was due. the State battery broke down. leaving nncrushed ore which might produce the badly wanted funds. The mine manager and his sole assis- tant, by herculean efforts, loaded rail- way trucks and sent 103 tons to Kal- goorlie— 140 miles north. Out of it came 430 'ounces of gold— enough to pay the purchase price of the lease. Since then the mine has had many up and downs, and with its fortunes his varied the price of its shares on 'Change. Some of the stone taken out of the mine was almost pure gold, and cmshings over several months aver- aged more than 5 ounces of gold from every ton of ore. In October shares flew from 21/5 to 40/ in six days. In November they touched 60/. Blue Bird's golden eggs to date have realised £137.000 and brought divi- dends totalling 13/ a share to lucky speculators.
Shares have djopped to about 50/ in recent weeks, but interest in them con inues. Although less dramatic the story of Norseman Gold Mines' fight against innumerable difficulties has the same touch of romance. Formed late in 1930, it acquired 96 acres near the present township site, a mile south of the Blue Bird shaft The four leases obtained were practically virgin country, but adjoined the old Mararoa Mine, which produced £750,000 worth of gold. , Full of hope, the company began work, but for four years the going was hard — and expensive. During 1932-3 nearly £13,000 was spent on sinking a shaft 600 ft. deep, with drives along reefs for thousands of feet more. Al though gold values were good, it was not until extensive treatment plant was obtained in 1933 that the gold could be recovered. Thea-water trouble became acute. .. Iragei quantities of .water Xwere needed, but *hp only, supplies avail able1 were in extremity salty lakes, whicjr sometimes contained 20 per cent of dissolved solids. For a while this was? run through engines and plant, ex perts from allover the world dropping in now and then to offer impractical suggestions for a solution. Pipeline Extended Finally Norseman directors moved with other companies to persuade the Government to extend the tremendous Perth-Kalgoorli* pipeline to Norseman — 105 miles south. The mine now takes 1,200,000 gallons of water a month, and pays 10/ a thousand gal lons for it A contribution of £10,000 was made towards the cost. And now iAMsands of gallons of water from the Mnndarinr Weir pour Into Norseman via Kalgoorlie every day, completing at 500-mile journey. Four hundred men, in three shifts, toil underground in the Norseman mine today on a dozen or more levels, one as low as 1,000 ft. Modern machinery has been installed throughout, repre senting an outlay of £150,000. Gold production for several months has ayeraged £24,000. Electricity from the main plant now goes over seven miles of power-lines to associated mines. Underground Train Directors have in mind the provision of an electric train on the 1,000-ft level, to speed up production and ease the task of workers. The total length of track would be about a. third of a mile. Most shareholders in the company will have received 16/10% for each of their original 5/ investments when divi dends now being distributed are paid. Altogether payments to shareholders have been about £310,000. Both Norseman and Blue Bird have occupied the centre of the goldmining stage for the past two or three years. What is their future? That must be left to that same fickle lady — Chance — who has escorted them and their shareholders to their present position along the road to fortune.