The New Zealand Exploration Company and Aroha Gold Mines Ltd: the last introduction of overseas capital to Waiorongomai
Hart, P. (2016). The New Zealand Exploration Company and Aroha Gold Mines Ltd: the last introduction of overseas capital to Waiorongomai. (Te Aroha Mining District Working papers, No. 96). Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Historical Research Unit.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10428
The Paris and London Rothschilds became involved in mining investments in the late nineteenth century, in 1886 forming the Exploration Company, which subsequently formed subsidiary companies to develop promising fields. Two men were fundamental to the formation of the New Zealand Exploration Company and Aroha Gold Mines: James de Hirsch and Jules George Wilson, and full details of their lives, in particular in New Zealand, are provided. In 1895, as the mining boom started, de Hirsch, encouraged by Wilson, wanted to develop the Thames low levels but soon abandoned this idea and became interested in Waiorongomai. After an Australian expert, Edward John Dunn, produced an optimistic report, a syndicate was formed that negotiated with the vendors. Full details are provided of the founders, directors, and shareholders (almost all living outside New Zealand) in both companies and of the New Zealand mining properties they acquired. At Waiorongomai, existing mines were further tested and opened up between 1895 and 1898, but because the anticipated high value ore was not found and also because of the costs, a new low level drive through the entire field was commenced. The battery was also reconstructed and an experimental cyanide plant added. Because of discouraging results along with the deaths of both Wilson and de Hirsch, the companies abandoned the Waiorongomai field. As so often, government policies and taxes were blamed for this outcome, although wiser commentators noted that the companies were not set up to benefit New Zealand rather than their shareholders. The departure of the companies and their capital set the field back significantly.
Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato
© 2016 Philip Hart