What appears below depicts various aspects of the now almost-extinct gold mining industry as practices in New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula between approximately 1852 and 1960. They are imagined history and images of an industry that was / is very poorly documented and researched. The images will be added-to over time.
Explosives have long been used in mining to break the metal-bearing rock into smaller pieces for processing. The explosives were placed into holes drilled into the rock. However, before the advent of mechanical, compressed-air rock drills, holes had to be literally driven by hand using the technique portrayed above. Known as ‘Single Handed’ Drilling, this method involved two men. The ‘Driller’ sat on the floor of the working, holding the pointed end of a steel bar (the ‘Drill’) against the rock face. The Drill was usually 6 ft long, pointed at one end, and flat at the other; the pointed end being held in against the rock face. When drilling, the Driller’s mate (the ‘Striker’) used a sledge hammer to hit the outer end of the Drill. Striking the drill drove it into the rock by a small amount. The Driller would then rotate the drill by 90 Degrees and the process would be repeated until a hole three feet deep had been inserted into the rock face. It should be noted that this all took place in a small area measuring (at most) 6 ft x 5 ft, with the only illumination being from candles inserted into holders (termed ‘Spiders’) set into the walls of the working. TWO-HANDED DRILLING was essentially a similar method, except that, instead of one Striker, there were two. The environment was however, the same.