FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

As any reader who has been following this blog for a while will be aware, I have a certain interest in model railways and underground ‘Hard rock’ gold mining, and that at times these interests have a way of combining. What follows is the latest iteration of this interest; a small 1:43 / 7 mm: 1 ft scale model railway layout which I have christened Fidero Resources (No Liability).

The layout represents a departure from my previous modelling efforts in that it is in a larger scale (‘O’ scale; 1:43 ; 7mm: 1 ft) as opposed to my previous, long-held, enthusiasm for ‘N’ scale (1:148 ; 2 mm: 2 ft), with the latter-scale having reached the limits of its possibilities.

As with the other layouts that have appeared on this blog, it is again set in New Zealand and, once again, located in that  part of that country known as the Coromandel Peninsula, specifically ‘Somewhere North of Karangahake, Somewhere South of Port Charles’, and deep within the remote ranges of that part of New Zealand.

The layout is in the early stages of its development and it is hoped that as it evolves and develops over time,  this particular Blog will be updated.

However, by way of background, what follows is an introduction:

Back Story

It is 2018 and Fidero Resources (N.L.) is a small Auckland-based gold mining company employing 20 men and extracting profitable ore from several small reefs (lodes).

The Mine is located at the upper end of a valley and a small, 18 inch (457 mm) gauge tramway (aka ‘Tram’) is used to convey the extracted ore to the processing plant located some distance away. To do this battery-electic locomotives (Both built by PastaeSpghiti SPA of Bologne,Italy c/n’s 002 and 003) are used, and they perform their humble tasks efficiently.and reliably.

The tram itself has little to distinguish it from others of its ilk, with the only feature of note being a centre-rail brake installed on the line immediately after it leaves the mine. The severity of the gradient necessitated such an installation and it works well and without any problems.

Locomotives

Currently two are owned by the company. Both are battery-electrics.

No.1 (also by PastaeSpghiti SPA of Bologne,Italy c/n 002) has recently returned from a rebuild, and while leaving No.2 to do the majority of the work, is being ‘tweaked’ prior to re-entering service. .

Rolling stock

The tram’s rolling stock is exclusively of the 4-wheeled side-dump type, with the locomotive (aka a ‘Trammer’) taking empty wagons underground to the working faces then, after they are loaded, taking them back outside and along the tramway to the processing plant.

Utilising the wagons in this manner avoids double-handling and enables an increased volume of ore to be worked.It is also quite prototypical.

The Reality

The layout baseboard was constructed to operating stage by Bonjing Valley Group (P. Smith Prop.) on my commission; woodworking and wiring not being part of my skillset. It was received into my care on 27 January 2019 and I have had the pleasure of creating the scenery, locomotive/s etc. which appear in the images.

 

Scenery

This has been the most interesting aspect of this layout; my use (for the first time ever) of pre-formed plastic vegetation specifically intended to replicate local fauna and flora. The ‘plants’ are made by a local organisation and although nominally OO/HO scale (1:87) in scale, seem to be ideally suited for my purposes. Although it is in fact possible to purchase the key items separately, as used on Fidero, the vegetation has come in ‘mat’ form, needing only to be cut to fit. As such it has proven very useful, and as it takes acrylic paint well, has proved suitable for its task.

Vehicles

Because it is set in the Twenty-first Century, motor vehicles form an integral part of the layout. As a result several Landrover 4-wheel drive vehicles have made their appearance as support vehicles for the operation. They can be seen in various places.

Staff 

The Company has ben fortunate in being able to acquire and retain the services of ‘Bill’ a very amiable and competent Large Lizard (aka ‘Dinosaur).  He holds the position of ‘Curator in Residence’ and closely and carefully supervises what is being done by the layout’s  builders. He is not averse to Landrover rides…

Structures

As with all my models, these are mainly constructed from discarded Picture Matte Board (aka Picture Framing Card ) and are layout specific. As the layout is evolving,  at the time of writing they are at best ‘temporary’, and may change as more information comes to hand.

 

Technical Details

Title:  FIDERO RESOURCES (NO. LIABILITY.)

 

Type: Gold-mining tramway (light railway)

Location :Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

Scale: On18 (1:148 / 7mm= 1 ft)
Track gauge: 18 inches (457 mm)

Dimensions:

Length: 42 in (1066 mm)
Width: 23.5 in (596 mm)

Track Geometry:

Distorted oval rising at both ends.

AS RECEIVED 27 JANUARY 2019

FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

Baseboard as received 27 January 2019

H. 24 March 2019

FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

As at 25 March 2019

 

20190216_120311

FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

Trammer No.2 descending the Centre-rail section. Locomotive shed on left.

TRAMMER (2)

FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

Trammer No.2 ascending the embankment to the processing plant

Part of cyanide plant visible in background

(vegetation has since been added to this area; see next image)

TRAMMER 2 ASCENDING GRADE TO MILL 24 MARCH 2019

FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

General view of Tramway and Processing Plant. Trammer No.2 is on gradient

Note vegetation, including Gorse (‘Furze’) in bloom.

20190307_075510 (2)

FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

Image showing Company  Landrover (Series I), Managing Director (in front of vehicle) and Curator in Residence (to right of image). 

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FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

A Mining Tale…

Whether the events that follow actually occured is for the reader to decide…

Tuesday, 31 May, 1921, and outside the No. 2 Crosscut, 500 ft. in from the adit portal, the last shift of all, ever, was about to commence. The Kereru Gold Mining Co. Ltd., owner of the mine, had gone into liquidation, left its London offices and was in the process of dissolving.  The battery and cyanide plant were being removed; although built for £3 million (in 2017, valued at $256 million) their scrap metal value now only £200,000 ($17 million).

Only the mine remained to be ‘mothballed’; a euphemism for the removal of everything saleable, and as a result three men now stood at the No.2 Crosscut entrance, awaiting the start of the shift and to receive instructions from the Shift Boss.

The three – Fred Shaw, Oscar Levokjwix (‘Lev’, to his mates) and Charlie James, had worked  as Contract Miners for years – indeed, it had been for so long that none of them had any idea exactly when they had paired up. It was certainly before ‘The War’ (the Great War of recent memory), but before that?  No-one could recall, although if asked, they were definite that it was before Waihi and the infamous events of 1912.  Of that they were all certain.  As professional miners, they were renowned for their abilities and skills. Now, they waited, the flames from their hat-mounted carbide lamps the sole illumination. Invisible air currents made the flames gutter, placing dancing shadows on the surrounding walls, while in the silence, distant water echoed as it dripped from roofs in abandoned tunnels.

Albert Benton, the Shift Boss, arrived – eventually. He was a careful and experienced man, well-regarded by all in the mine, knowing his job and always cheerful. He was however ‘Company’ and as such, suspect.  He could never, despite any effort he might make, be equal with those who were waiting, a point understood by all and never discussed as a result.

Benton had certainly been a contract miner at one time, but with promotion came distance and the gap could never be bridged – at least, not in the present circumstances.  Another time, another place?  Perhaps,but just not now.

With Benton’s arrival came instructions, and the men were soon  at work uplifting rails, dismantling air and water lines, removing timber and tidying-up the area.  They all knew what they had to do and did it quickly and efficiently.  There was however a slight problem; the disposal of the four sticks of Nobel’s Dynamite (known universally as ‘Jelly’) and its associated roll of fuse cord. These essential tools of the gold-miners’ trade, as always, carefully placed to one side, albeit separately, would in other times have been combined together, inserted into the gold-bearing reef in specially-drilled holes, and the fuse lit. The explosion that resulted when flame met explosives would break the gold-bearing white quartz rock into pieces.   When loaded into wagons the ore was then taken away for processing.

At their morning crib (‘Smoko’ / meal break) Fred had looked at Albert Benton and asked “What about the Jelly and the cord?”  “Flaming Heck”, was the response, “I dunno’ – I can’t see the Company wanting it, and we can’t leave it here”.  A contemplative silence followed, until Lev spoke. “If we can’t leave ‘em, why don’t we blow ‘em’; problem solved?”   The others looked at him as if he was crazy, yet, the more they thought about it, the more sense it made.

But, where to carry-out the deed?   More discussion followed, until finally a conclusion was reached; the adjacent (and unfinished) No. 5 Drive would be ideal. The No. 2 Crosscut where the men were standing had been driven onto the Toi Toi Reef, and had produced some high-grade ore. However, the size of the reef was unknown, and to determine this, the Company had put exploratory tunnels into the area where it thought the reef might be.

The No.5 was one of these.  It had found nothing and had been abandoned.  As a place suitable to detonate unwanted explosives, it was ideal.

As Shift Boss, Albert Benton bore the final responsibility for any work being carried-out within his area, so ultimately, the decision was his.  Charlie James (who fancied himself a scholar) summarised it well: “To blow, or not to blow’ that is indeed the question”.  And so it was.  Time passed, and after due thought and consideration, Benton gave his assent, detailing Fred and Lev to “Do the necessary, do it quickly, and for heaven’s sake, do it safely!!”. “Yes sir”, came the reply and the two men quickly disappeared into the darkness, the flames from their helmet-mounted lamps making shadows on the walls as they went.   Denton and Charlie carried on, lifting, stacking, removing, as they waited for the others to return.

An hour passed, then suddenly lights appeared in the distance; Fred and Lev returning. They were moving rapidly and on their arrival, knowing what was to come, the group moved into the crosscut to wait.  A minute passed, then two, until finally a loud rumbling indicated that the explosives had ignited.  Mentally they all counted; ‘One’; ‘Two’; ‘Three’; Four’, and after the fourth explosion, they relaxed, thankful that the ‘disposal’ problem had been resolved.

Time passed and the work came to an end; everything cleaned-up, removed and the cross cut ready to be abandoned to whatever fate might befall it. With the passing of time, the fumes from the explosives would also have dissipated.  ‘Are you going back to have a look Mister Benton?’ Charlie asked.  “No, not today; no need; every sticks gone off, No.5 will be closed, and besides, once we’re out of here no-one will care.  No point”.  “Fair enough’, came Charlie’s response, ‘But can I go and have a look anyway, for old times’ sake.  We’ve all worked here and I can’t see us ever coming back again”. “Oh, very well, but don’t be long.  We’re finished here and I want to go home – and so do the others”.  Grunts of assent came from Fred and Lev

Charlie left the group, carefully making his way towards the entrance of No.5 Drive. From practice, he walked carefully, subconsciously noting every detail of the tunnel as he walked.   After five minutes he arrived at the entrance to the No.5 Drive, to find broken rock scattered everywhere.  The roof of the working had collapsed, the supporting timbers splintered and distorted, and everywhere, desolation.  This was to be expected. However, what was not expected was the sight of a thin yellow line at a point half-way along the right-hand side of the working; a thin yellow line in the white quartz rock, and also evident in a piece of quartz which he idly kicked with his boot as he entered.  Gold??? Surely not, and yet?  Quickly Charlie ran his thumbnail along the line.  Gold is soft and his nail left a mark on the line, so perhaps, just perhaps?  But, what to do?

He picked up and pocketed several small pieces of quartz, including three containing the mysterious yellow line.  The latter he put in his hatband, concealing them behind the lamp. This done, he started back to find the others; the journey seeming just a little shorter.

On his return, the usual questions followed: ‘What did it look like?’, ‘Did everything come down?’; ‘Did you find anything?’(this last from Benton).  He replied to them all, and, pulling the rocks from his pocket, showed them (especially Benton), what he had found. He did not mention the rocks in his hat band.

With that done and assurances given, the men walked back out to the adit portal, to daylight and an uncertain future. Mr. Benton told the Mine Manager that No.2 Crosscut was cleared of all machinery, rails and pipework, and that worthy in turn contacted the Company’s Attorney in Auckland to appraise him of the fact, the Attorney subsequently advising the Chairman of the Board (in London) of the situation. As a result, on 14 November 1921 the Chairman issued a statement to the effect that the Kereru Gold Mining Co. Ltd. had abandoned its mine.

There is not much more to tell. On 2 January 1922, the New Kereru Gold Mining Co. Ltd. was formed; the Principle Shareholders being Messers. Frederick Shaw, Oscar Levokjwix and Charles James.  According to its Prospectus, the  new entity’s purpose was ‘To explore and evaluate the site of the former Kereru Gold Mining Co. Ltd. and surrounding areas with a view to exploiting such resources as may be found within that area’.  The new organisation was subsequently granted a lease over 750 acres of the former company’s ground and curiously, quickly found extremely rich gold- bearing ore in the vicinity of the No. 2 Crosscut. The ore was especially rich within the former No.5 Drive, the deposit there-in being subsequently christened the Alton Patch by the Principle Shareholders. Oddly, none of these (subsequently knighted) gentlemen would ever divulge the origins of the name.

Of Albert Benton, nothing more was ever heard…

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A Mining Tale…