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PRODUCTION OF COAL, AUSTRALIA, 1881 to 1908
In New South Wales there was an increase in the output for 1908, as compared with the previous year, in both the Northern and Southern districts, while there was a decrease in the Western district. (See page 517 hereinafter).
In Queensland nearly the whole of the increase in 1908 is accounted for by the Iarger output in the Wide Bay and Central districts. In the Southern district, the mines at Ipswich and Bundamba, which are responsible for the greater proportion of the State’s output, shew a record but little higher than in 1907.
Distribution and Quantity of Coal in each State
New South Wales
Estimates have from time to time been made as to the total quantity of coal available for working in the deposits in New South Wales, and while these naturally differ to some extent, they agree in placing the amount at well over a thousand million tons, without taking into consideration the deposits existing below a depth of 4000 feet. According to Mr. E. F. Pittman, the coal-bearing rocks of Now South Wales may be classified as follows:-
COAL-BEARING ROCKS OF NEW SOUTH WALES
No serious attempt has been made to use the deposits of brown coal or lignite as a source of fuel. The Triassic deposits in the Clarence and Richmond districts contain numerous seams, but the coal is largely intersected by bands, while its large percentage of ash renders it unfit for use as fuel for industrial purposes. Probably these beds extend under the great western plains, but the presence of artesian water precludes the possibility of their being worked. It is in the Permo-Carboniferous division that the great productive coal seams of the State are found, the area which they cover being estimated at about 25,000 square miles. The coal from the various districts embraced in this division differs considerably in quality - that from the Newcastle district being especially suitable for gas-making and household purposes, while the product of the Southern (Illawarra) and Western (Lithgow) is an excellent steaming coal. The Permo-Carboniferous measures have in various places been disturbed by intrusions of volcanic rocks, which in some instances have completely cindered the seams in close proximity to the intrusive masses, while in other instances the coal has been turned into a natural coke, some of which has realised good prices as fuel.
The quantity of coal wrought in New South Wales during the year 1908 constitutes a record output, although the output from the Western district chews a decrease of 57,132 tons as compared with the previous year. The greatest increase is in the Northern district, and amounts to 452,422 tons as compared with 1907. The quantity and value of the coal raised in each district during the years 1887, 1901, 1907, and 1908 will be seen in the following table:-
COAL RAISED IN NEW SOUTH WALES, 1887 to 1908
So far back as 1847 the Rev. W. B. Clarke expressed the belief that workable coal would be found in the strata below Sydney, a belief that was also held by subsequent geologists, who based their contentions on stratigraphical and palaeontological evidence. The later geologists urged that the Illawarra coal measures of the South Coast district were identical with the Newcastle measures of the Northern district, although it was agreed that the deposits in the neighbourhood of Sydney would probably be found at a considerable depth. Borings were made in several localities close to Sydney, and in 1891 a drill put down at Cremorne Point in Sydney Harbour passed through a seam of coal seven feet four inches thick and at a depth of 2801 feet. Unfortunately the site of the bore happened to be in the vicinity of a volcanic dyke, which had cindered the coal near the locality of its intrusion. A second bore was commenced in July, 1892, and in November, 1893, a seam of excellent coal, ten feet three inches thick, was reached at 2917 feet. The results attained led to the formation of a company which acquired land at Balmain, and expended a considerable sum of money in the purchase of plant suitable for working coal at such a great depth. Sinking operations were commenced in June, 1897, and coal was struck at a depth of 2880 feet on the 21st November, 1901. Up to the present developmental work has not sufficiently advanced to permit of any Considerable production.
The deposits of black coal in Victoria occur in the Jurassic system, the workable seams, of a thickness ranging from two feet three inches to six feet, being all in the Southern Gippsland district. The coal is of excellent quality for steaming and household purposes. The full exploitation of the Victorian coal deposits has, however, been rather severely hindered by various obstacles. In the Report of the Royal Commission on the Coal Industry, 1906, these have been summarised as follows - (1) Labour troubles. (2) Difficulties of working arising from faults, displacements, and. thin seams. (3) Increased cost of production as the workings extend. (4) The low price ruling for coal.
Deposits of brown coal and lignite of immense extent occur in gravels, sands, and clays of the Cainozoic period throughout Gippsland, Mornington Peninsula, Werribee Plains, Gellibrand. and Barwon and Moorabool basins. In the Latrobe Valley the beds reach a thickness of over 800 feet. When dried, the material makes good fuel, but owing to its excessive combustibility and friability requires to be consumed, in specially constructed grates. Attempts have been made to manufacture briquettes from the brown coal, but so far without any great measure of success. It is stated that a company has recently been formed to install a modern plant at Morwell for the manufacture of briquettes and the recovery of the by-products. Reference has already been made to the proposal to establish a State coal mine in the Powlett River district. (See page 515 ante.)
The output of coal from the chief Victorian collieries during the last seven years was as follows:-
The figures for 1908 include 500 tons of brown coal, valued at £125.
The coal from Leigh’s Creek in South Australia is subject to similar disabilities as the Victorian brown coal, and until some means are devised of overcoming these, production will probably languish.
In Queensland the coal-bearing strata are of vast extent and wide distribution, being noted under the greater portion of the South-eastern districts, within 200 miles of the sea, as far north as Cookstown, and under portions of the far western interior. The Ipswich beds are estimated to occupy about 12,000 square miles of country, while the Burrum fields occupy a considerably larger area. At Callide, fifty miles west of Gladstone, a seam of coal free from bands has been struck in a shaft only sixty feet deep, and borings have proved the deposit to be of considerable magnitude. The beds in the Cook district are estimated to comprise rather more than 1000 square miles, but coal measures extend to the south-west far beyond Laura and to the north of the railway. Extensive beds occur in the basin of the Fitzroy River, in the Broadsound district, and at the Bowen River. Amongst other places where the mineral is founds may be enumerated Clermont, the Palmer River, Tambo, Winton, Mount Mulligan, and the Flinders River. A bituminous coal is yielded by the Ipswich seams, those of the Darling Downs yield a cannel, while anthracite of good quality is furnished by the Dawson River beds.
The quantity and value of coal raised in Queensland at various periods since 1861 were as shown below:-
The quantity and value of coal raised in Queensland at various periods since 1861 were as shown below:-
At present coal mining in Queensland is in a very satisfactory position, the increasing volume of the trade being chiefly due to the action of the Government in granting concessions to vessels coaling at local ports.
The distribution of production during the last two years was as follows:
A considerable proportion of the produce of the Ipswich district is supplied to vessels for hunker coal. The average value of coal in all districts was high or in 1908 than in 1907, a condition due to the raising of prices and the higher scale of wages which came into operation in the majority of the collieries at the beginning of the year 1908.
The coal seams in Western Australia belong to the Carboniferous, Mesozoic, and Post-tertiary ages. Most of the coal contains a large proportion of moisture, and belongs partly to the hydrous bituminous and partly to the lignite class. The only coalfield at present worked is at Collie, in the Mesozoic beds of the south-west. The coal produced is bright and clean, but very fragile when free from moisture. The improved output in 1908 is consequent on the establishment of a bunkering trade at Bunbury and Fremantle, which has developed very satisfactorily. The production from this field during the last eight years was as follows: -
PRODUCTION OF COAL IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA, 1901 to 1908
In Tasmania coal occurs in the Carboniferous and Mesozoic systems the product of the former class being, however, far inferior to that of the latter. Carboniferous seams occur at the Don, Tarleton, Latrobe, Port Cygnet, Tippagory Range, St. Mary’s, and Adventure Bay, the seam at Port Cygnet having a thickness of two feet and being of fair quality. The Mesozoic coal measures are well developed in the Fingal basin, the Cornwall coal from this locality being excellent for household purposes. The chief production of recent years has been furnished by the Mt. Nicholas and Cornwall minos, but it is hoped that ore long the production from the Sandfiy mine will assume considerable proportions. The quantity of coal raised during the years 1901 to 1908 in the various districts was as follows: -
PRODUCTION OF COAL IN TASMANIA, 1901 to 1908
Production of Coal In Various Countries
The total known coal production of the world in 1908 amounted to about 1100 million tons (exclusive of brown coal or lignite), towards which the Commonwealth contributed 10 million tons, or rather less than 1 per cent. The following table chews the production of the British Empire and the chief foreign countries in units of 1000 tons during each year of the period 1901 to 1908: -
Including New Zealand the production from Australasia takes second place amongst the possessions of the British Empire, British India coming first in order.
Export of Coal
The exports of coal from the Comnsonsvealth are practically confined to New South Wales.
The total quantity of coal of Australian production (exclusive of bunker coal) exported from the Commonwealth to other countries in 1908 was 2,560.842 tons, valued at £1,348,926, of which amount 2,558,366 tons, valued at £1,347,237, were exported from New South Wales.
New South Wales
In the following table will be found the quantity and value of the exports at decennial intervals since 1881 and during the last five years. The figures for New South Wales are given on the authority of the Mines Department of that State, and include both bunker coal and coal exported from New South Wales to other States of the Commonwealth:-
EXPORTS OF NEW SOUTH WALES COAL, 1881 to 1908
The principal countries to which coal was exported from Next South Wales during the year 1908 were as shown hereunder, The quantity and value refer strictly to exports, and exclude hunker coal:-
DESTINATION OF NEW SOUTH WALES COALS, 1908
The quantity of hunker coal taken from New South Wales by oversea vessels was about 1,273,092 tons, valued at £684,862.
The distribution of the total output from New South Wales collieries during the last five years was as follows; the particulars given of amounts exported include coal shipped as bunker coal:-
DISTRIBUTION OF TOTAL OUTPUT OF NEW SOUTH WALES COAL, 1904 to 1908
In 1903 Queensland’s oversea export of coal was almost negligible, being 1688 tons, as compared with 3019 tons in 1907.
Consumption of Coal in Australia
An estimate of the consumption of coal in the Commonwealth may be arrived at by adding the imports to the home production, and deducting the exports (including bunker coal taken by oversea vessels). The follow-up table shews the consumption of coal in Australia, computed in the manner specified, for the last four years: -
CONSUMPTION OF COAL IN AUSTRALIA, 1905 to 1908
Price of Coal
New South Wales
The price of coal in New South Wales has been subject to considerable fluctuation since the date of first production. Up to the end of 1857 the average value of the total output was 11s. 10d. per ton. Next year the value had risen to nearly 15s., declining thereafter until in 1871 the price realised was 7s. From 1872 to 1879 there was a rise in value to 12s. Between 1882 and 1891 the price ranged between 8s. and 10s. From 1891 onwards there was a steady decline until 1898, when the average was 5s. 4d. Henceforward prices rose again until 1902, when 7s. 5d. was the average. A further decline then set in until 1905, when the price stood at a little over 6s., followed by a rise of one penny in 1906. In 1907 the average was 6s. 9d. and in 1908 was 7s. 4d. per ton. The price of New South Wales coal depends on the district from which it is obtained, the northern (Newcastle) coal always realising a much higher rate than the southern or western product. The average rate in each district during the last five years was as follows: -
PRICE OF COAL IN NEW SOUTH WALES (PER TON), 1904 to 1908
In Victoria the average price of coal up to the 31st December 1890, was 19s. 3d. per ton. In 1895 the price was still as high as 12s. 2d., but in the following five years there was a serious decline, the value in 1900 being quoted at 9s. 7d., per ton. In 1901, however, there was an astonishing rise, the figure being as high as 14s. 7d. Since that year, however, the price again declined, the average for 1905 being l0s. 2d.,for 1906, l0s., for 1907, 11s. 6d., and for 1908, 11s. 5d.
The average price of coal at the pit’s mouth in Queensland during the period 1900 to 1908 ranged from St. 84d. in 1906 to 7s. in 1901. Prices in the principal coal-producing districts during the last four years were as follows:-
PRICES OF COAL, QUEENSLAND, 1905 to 1908
The average price of the Collie (Western Australia) coal up to the end of 1901 was 9s. 4d. per ton, the price in 1901 being 11s 7d. In 1902 the average stood at 12s. 3d., and from that time the price fell steadily until 1906, when it was 7s. 7½d. per ton. In 1907 the average price was 7s. 8¾d., and in 1908 it was 8. 7½d. per ton.
The average price per ton of coal at the pit’s mouth in Tasmania was 8s. in 1901. In 1902 it was 8s. 7d., in 1903, 8s. 9d., in 1904, 9s. 8d., in 1905, 9s. 8d., in 1906, 9s. 9d., and in 1907 and 1908 it was 8s. per ton.
Price of Coal in other Countries
According to a report published by the Board of Trade the average value of coal at the pit’s mouth in the five principal coal producing countries of the world, for the four years ended 1907, was as follows:
PRICES OF FOREIGN COAL, 1904 to 1907
The price of coal at the pit’s mouth in the principal British possessions is averaged by the same authority as follows:-
Employment and Accidents in Coal Mining
The number of persons employed in coal mining in each of the States during the year 1908 is shewn below. The table also chews the number of persons killed and injured, with the proportion per 1000 employed, while further columns are added shewing the quantity of coal raised for each person killed and injured, this being a factor which must be reckoned with in any consideration of the degree of risk attending mining operations.
Returns published by the Board of Trade, England, give the total known number of persons engaged in mining and quarrying throughout the world as about 5 2/3 millions, more than one-half of whom were employed in coal mining, the number in the United Kingdom being 918,400; the United States, 641,000; Germany, 545,000; France, 176,000; Belgium, 143,000; Austria, 70,000; and India, 113,000.
The latest returns shew the death rate in the United Kingdom in respect of deaths through accidents in coal mines as 1.31, and for the British Enspire 1.33 per 1000 Persons employed in coal mines. For France the rate is given as 1.10, for Germany 2.55, and the United States 4.66. For foreign countries generally the into is stated at 3,04 per 1000.
*Not available. †xclusive of Tasmania.
Production of Coke
Notwithstanding the large deposits of excellent coal in Australia there is at the present time a fairly considerable amount of coke imported from abroad, the oversea import during the year ended 1908 amounting to 10,204 tons, valued at £13,610, the bulk of which came from the United Kingdom and Germany, and was taken chiefly by South Australia and Western Australia. Various reasons were at one time adduced to account for the rejection of the local article, such as excessive friability in transport, lack of strength to sustain the weight of large ore bodies in reduction works, excessive amount of ash, etc. These disabilities have, however, largely been overcome, so that succeeding years should see continued expansion in local production. Extensive shipments of coke were obtained from Germany in 1908 for the Wallaroo and Moonta smelters, and for the Broken Hill Proprietary’s works at Port Pirie. In explanation of this, it has been stated that while supplies in Australia were not sufficient to meet demands and ensure continuity in supply, there has been considerable over-production at German coke works. In New South Wales the industry is making rapid progress, as the figures hereunder will show:-
It may be seen that notwithstanding the depression in metalliferous mining in 1908 the production for the year shews an increase of 29,264 tons and £40,617 in value.
A small quantity of coke is made in Queensland, but the bulk of that used in ore reduction is imported, mainly from New South Wales. The following table shews the amount manufactured locally in this State, and the amount imported during the last four years ; the quantities imported include shipments landed from other States of the Commonwealth.
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