The Auckland smelting company
Hart, P. (2016). The Auckland smelting company. (Te Aroha Mining District Working papers, No. 111). Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Historical Research Unit.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10445
Mining in the Tui portion of the Te Aroha field was revived in 1948 by Benjamin John Dunsheath, a small businessman who had owned several private companies, none of them very successful, in a career marked by dubious business ethics. To develop the Tui mines he was assisted by others, only some of whom had mining skills. After defeating opposition from those concerned about possible pollution, prospecting, mostly for base metals, proceeded with reportedly encouraging results. In contrast to the success he anticipated from both mines and his planned smelting works, mining officials were much more cautious. To develop the ground, Dunsheath formed the Auckland Smelting Company, an under-capitalized company whose directors and shareholders lacked mining experience. Consequently, he obtained advice from outside experts and sought assistance, especially financial, from a mostly reluctant Mines Department, which considered the area worth prospecting but did not share his optimism. Most of the development was focused on driving a new level (no. 5) to strike the reefs, but because of inadequate preliminary surface and underground testing arguments arose about its correct direction, which would lead to the departure of their skilled mine manager, Bert McAra, especially after he was asked to provide misleading samples ‘for propaganda purposes’. Because by 1953 the results were disappointing and the reef had not been struck because the crosscut was being driven in the wrong direction, further government subsidies were refused, and in mid-year all work ceased after the company, despite several increases in its capital, ran out of money. Overseas capital was sought but was not interested. This company was an illustration of how not to mine an area lacking easily accessible high quality ore. With inadequate capital and inadequate prior prospecting, it struggled to develop its ground, and to attract investors and government assistance Dunsheath relied on providing incomplete and sometimes false information, causing ructions amongst the directors and disapproval from officials. Its collapse was inevitable from the start.
Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato
© 2016 Philip Hart