Shale at Murrurundi. (30th March 1872)
Speaking of the bituminous shale deposits recently opened in the Upper Hunter district, the Times of the 23rd instant says : — It is distant from Murrurundi about three and a half miles, but from the nature of the country is equal to eight miles. On leaving the town, you immediately proceed up a steep rugged mountain, estimated to beabout 1600 feet above the level of the township. From the top a magnificent panoramic view can be obtained of the surrounding country. From the foot of this mountain a track has been cut to draw a slide 5 feet wide. From the summit of the mine there is a gradual decline not nearly so steep or rough. Almost immediately at the base the mine is situated, facing in an opposite direction into an adjoining range. After proceeding about ten yards into the tunnel, a dip in a seam takes place, which prevented us penetrating further in that direction in consequence of water. A drive has been made to the right for about twenty yards perfectly dry, with about a six feet face, leaving indications of an abundance of shale, of quality almost equal to the Hartley shale, as proved by analysis. As yet, of course, the samples obtained are merely surface, and will in all probability greatly improve at deeper sinking. Between forty and fifty tons of shale are already grassed, and ready for shipment. The plan of conveying the shale over the mountain is somewhat novel, not very expensive, but somewhat tedious. Mr. Harper proposes to have about twenty pack horses, and estimates each horse to carry about 150 lbs. to the top of the mountain, which journey they will perform three or four times a day, and will be driven by two hands.
From the top of the mountain the shale will be drawn down in a slide by bullocks to the bottom ; from thence conveyed to the railway station in drays. The aggregate expense of carriage per ton from the mine to the station is, as we are informed, 5s. This primitive method will be adopted until the worth of the mine has been fully tested.
If the speculation turns out to the anticipation of the pro-motor, a wire tramway will be erected.
The nature of the country is said to be peculiarly favourable for carrying out such an undertaking. It would only require a small 14-horse power engine, as the loaded trucks coming down one side would pull the others up from the opposite side. There is certainly every prospect of these mines turning out well, judging from private information we have received relative to the value of the shale.