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James Alexander Pond: an Auckland chemist involved in mining

Born in London, James Alexander Pond arrived in New Zealand at the age of 18. With a background in chemistry, he was interested in scientific topics from an early age. Although his first experience of life in the colony was as a small farmer, from 1868 onwards he was involved in mining, first at Thames, an involvement that would continue for the rest of his life. After becoming a chemist in Auckland in the 1860s, he was appointed a public analyst two decades later. From the 1880s onwards he was involved in a wide range of scientific investigations, and was active in the New Zealand and Auckland Institutes. Much of his research was intended to assist farmers. He invented a butter box that was so successful that his patent was stolen in Victoria, and the private company that manufactured them was very profitable. Like others with fond memories of ‘Home’, he assisted acclimatization. One of his many scientific interests was geology, which involved his assaying ore and assisting mining on many fields; he was an early enthusiast for the use of cyanide in treating ore. From 1880 onwards he was associated, on and off, with mining in the Te Aroha district, analyzing its ore, being consulted about treatment processes, and from 1888 onwards acquiring interests in claims. Other mining investments covered most of the Hauraki fields. From 1907 onwards, he was involved in two under-capitalized failures at Waiorongomai, the Waitawheta Gold Prospecting Company and the Waitawheta Gold Mining Company. Subsequently he invested in the Bendigo mine and battery there, which was no more successful. He introduced the oil flotation process to this battery, which he would retain (because he could not sell it) until his death. Although participating in the renewed mining of the district during the Depression, his mining was minimal, and although he died a relatively well-off man, this was not because of his involvement in Te Aroha mining.
Working Paper
Type of thesis
Te Aroha Mining District Working Papers
Hart, P. (2016). James Alexander Pond: an Auckland chemist involved in mining. (Te Aroha Mining District Working papers, No. 59). Hamilton, New Zealand: University of Waikato, Historical Research Unit.
Historical Research Unit, University of Waikato
© 2016 Philip Hart