If you’ve struggled to read some of the material both from newspapers and previous Mines Department reports the excellent news for 1877 is that the print quality is massively improved and hence text translations from the scanned originals now read cleanly!

The sad news for mining during the year was that the drought continued unabated and this effectively forced many miners off the fields. Some had the good fortune to actually mine in farming areas where they could switch between farming and mining pursuits easily.

However, in the middle of a drought that had already been running for three years, farming wasn’t good for that much either. Tough times indeed.

Left: Mines Department Annual Report 1877. Image and content presented here from this report reproduced courtesy of NSW Trade & Resources, Minerals & Energy

Annual Report: Gold issues introduction summary

“The number of miners engaged in gold mining in this Colony during 1877 was 6,974, and that the quantity of gold won was 124,11O ozs., valued at £471,418.

Dividing this quantity by the number of miners, gives to each miner 17 ozs. of gold, a slight decrease upon the preceding year; and dividing the value by the number of miners, gives as the earnings of each miner for the year of £67.”

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BATHURST DISTRICT – Bathurst, Oberon, Rockley, Trunkey, Tuena, Orange, Carcoar Divisions.

“Operations in my division of the Bathurst District are certainly not very active, nor have they been for some time past. Different reasons are assigned; some think “the gold is worked out,” others say that “capital and skilled labour” are all that is required.

“My opinion inclines to the latter. If Ophir had been properly and systematically worked, instead of “rooted over,” the results would have been very different”.

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“There are many reefs known to contain gold, and from which payable crushings have been obtained, but as soon as wages were not to be made, the working miner was compelled to give his claim up and seek another surface-patch, although he was fully convinced that if he had capital to continue sinking and prospecting his reef woUld turn out a payable one.

“If Government were to support the testing of such reefs, and care taken that it was properly expended, I believe in a short time mining would become a recognized investment for capital.”

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MUDGEE District

“I regret to be compelled, as at this season of the preceding year, to refer to the exceptional dryness of the spring and summer.

“This climatic condition, though by no means so disastrous to mining operations as to those of the farmer and grazier, has yet a distinctly injurious effect upon mining industry generally.”

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LACHLAN DISTRICT: Forbes, Billabong, Cargo

“All the creeks and watercourses, with the exception of the Lachlan River have long ceased to flow, and the channels are for the most part dry.

“A large number of the mining population, unable from the cause stated to follow their avocations, have sought temporary employment on the pastoral properties to the westward, leaving their families in their several homesteads to await a more propitious season.”

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“The mining population of Young may be fairly described as miners in name only, they having long ago betaken themselves to other occupations.

“For making a similar statement of absolute fact…in my last report I was severely taken to task, for which I have to express my regret, inasmuch as the assertion was put in a very general sense, and was not aimed at particular persons.”

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“Although the gold mining operations in the Albury Division of the Tumut and Adelong District may not as yet have exhibited any steady, progressive, marked results, it is nevertheless the opinion of thoroughly competent persons that from those already obtained it may be taken for granted that the district is possessed of large mineral resources only requiring the application of more capital, enterprise, and better directed labour towards their development than have hitherto been devoted to this object.”

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