Friday 16th November 2018

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘victoria state’

And the mania continues

August 10th, 2018

How gold rushes helped make the modern world

by Benjamin Wilson Mountford/La Trobe University and Stephen Tuffnell/University of Oxford | posted with permission of The Conversation

How gold rushes helped make the modern world

Detail from an 1871 lithograph by Currier & Ives portraying the Californian goldfields in 1849.

 

This year is the 170th anniversary of one of the most significant events in world history: the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California. On January 24, 1848, while inspecting a mill race for his employer John Sutter, James Marshall glimpsed something glimmering in the cold winter water. “Boys,” he announced, brandishing a nugget to his fellow workers, “I believe I have found a gold mine!”

Marshall had pulled the starting trigger on a global rush that set the world in motion. The impact was sudden—and dramatic. In 1848 California’s non-Indian population was around 14,000; it soared to almost 100,000 by the end of 1849, and to 300,000 by the end of 1853. Some of these people now stare back at us enigmatically through daguerreotypes and tintypes. From Mexico and the Hawaiian Islands; from South and Central America; from Australia and New Zealand; from Southeastern China; from Western and Eastern Europe, arrivals made their way to the golden state.

How gold rushes helped make the modern world

JCF Johnson’s Euchre in the Bush, circa 1867, depicts a card game
in a hut on the Victorian goldfields in the 1860s. (Oil on canvas
mounted on board, courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ballarat)

Looking back later, Mark Twain famously described those who rushed for gold as

a driving, vigorous restless population … an assemblage of two hundred thousand young men—not simpering, dainty, kid-gloved weaklings, but stalwart, muscular, dauntless young braves…

“The only population of the kind that the world has ever seen gathered together,” Twain reflected, it was “not likely that the world will ever see its like again.”

Arriving at Ballarat in 1895, Twain saw first-hand the incredible economic, political and social legacies of the Australian gold rushes, which had begun in 1851 and triggered a second global scramble in pursuit of the precious yellow mineral.

“The smaller discoveries made in the colony of New South Wales three months before,” he observed, “had already started emigrants towards Australia; they had been coming as a stream.” But with the discovery of Victoria’s fabulous gold reserves, which were literally Californian in scale, “they came as a flood.”

Between Sutter’s Mill in January 1848, and the Klondike in the late 1890s, the 19th century was regularly subject to such flooding. Across Australasia, Russia, North America and Southern Africa, 19th century gold discoveries triggered great tidal waves of human, material and financial movement. New goldfields were inundated by fresh arrivals from around the globe: miners and merchants, bankers and builders, engineers and entrepreneurs, farmers and fossickers, priests and prostitutes, saints and sinners.

How gold rushes helped make the modern world

A nugget believed to be the first piece of gold
discovered in 1848 at Sutter’s Mill in California.
(Smithsonian National Museum of American History)

As the force of the initial wave began to recede, many drifted back to more settled lives in the lands from which they hailed. Others found themselves marooned, and so put down roots in the golden states. Others still, having managed to ride the momentum of the gold wave further inland, toiled on new mineral fields, new farm and pastoral lands, and built settlements, towns and cities. Others again, little attracted to the idea of settling, caught the backwash out across the ocean—and simply kept rushing.

From 1851, for instance, as the golden tide swept towards NSW and Victoria, some 10,000 fortune seekers left North America and bobbed around in the wash to be deposited in Britain’s Antipodean colonies alongside fellow diggers from all over the world.

Gold and global history

The discovery of the precious metal at Sutter’s Mill in January 1848 was a turning point in global history. The rush for gold redirected the technologies of communication and transportation, and accelerated and expanded the reach of the American and British Empires.

Telegraph wires, steamships and railroads followed in their wake; minor ports became major international metropolises for goods and migrants (such as Melbourne and San Francisco) and interior towns and camps became instant cities (think Johannesburg, Denver and Boise). This development was accompanied by accelerated mobility—of goods, people, credit—and anxieties over the erosion of middle class mores around respectability and domesticity.

But gold’s new global connections also brought new forms of destruction and exclusion. The human, economic and cultural waves that swept through the gold regions could be profoundly destructive to Indigenous and other settled communities, and to the natural environment upon which their material, cultural and social lives depended. Many of the world’s environments are gold rush landscapes, violently transformed by excavation, piles of tailings and the reconfiguration of rivers.

How gold rushes helped make the modern world

The Earth, at the End of the Diggings.
(Courtesy, Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute)

As early as 1849, Punch magazine depicted the spectacle of the earth being hollowed out by gold mining. In the “jaundice regions of California,” the great London journal satirised: “The crust of the earth is already nearly gone … those who wish to pick up the crumbs must proceed at once to California.” As a result, the world appeared to be tipping off its axis.

In the U.S. and beyond, scholars, museum curators and many family historians have shown us that despite the overwhelmingly male populations of the gold regions, we cannot understand their history as simply “pale and male.” Chinese miners alone constituted more than 25% of the world’s goldseekers, and they now jostle with white miners alongside women, Indigenous and other minority communities in our understanding of the rushes—just as they did on the diggings themselves.

Rushes in the present

The gold rushes are not mere historic footnotes—they continue to influence the world in which we live today. Short-term profits have yielded long-term loss. Gold rush pollution has been just as enduring as the gold rushes’ cultural legacy. Historic pollution has had long-range impacts that environmental agencies and businesses alike continue to grapple with.

At the abandoned Berkley pit mine in Butte, Montana, the water is so saturated with heavy metals that copper can be extracted directly from it. Illegal mining in the Amazon is adding to the pressures on delicate ecosystems and fragile communities struggling to adapt to climate change.

The phenomenon of rushing is hardly alien to the modern world either—shale gas fracking is an industry of rushes. In the U.S., the industry has transformed Williston, North Dakota, a city of high rents, ad hoc urban development and an overwhelmingly young male population—quintessential features of the gold rush city.

In September last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that a new gold rush was underway in Texas: for sand, the vital ingredient in the compound of chemicals and water that is blasted underground to open energy-bearing rock. A rush of community action against fracking’s contamination of groundwater has followed.

The world of the gold rushes, then, is not a distant era of interest only to historians. For better or worse, the rushes are a foundation of many of the patterns of economic, industrial and environmental change central to our modern-day world of movement.

Benjamin Mountford and Stephen Tuffnell’s forthcoming edited collection A Global History of Gold Rushes will be published by University of California Press in October 2018. A sample of their work can also be found in the forthcoming volume Pay Dirt! New Discoveries on the Victorian Goldfields (Ballarat Heritage Services, 2018).

Benjamin Wilson Mountford, David Myers Research Fellow in History, La Trobe University and Stephen Tuffnell, Associate Professor of Modern U.S. History, University of Oxford

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Related:

Aussie hobbyist unearths four-kilo gold nugget

August 25th, 2016

by Greg Klein | August 25, 2016

Gold-seekers have scoured the area since the 1850s but overlooked this one—a nugget weighing in at 4.121 kilograms or 132.5 ounces. The August 26 (Down Under calendar) discovery was the anonymous hobbyist’s second find in two days, following a nine-ounce nugget and demonstrating the enduring potential of Victoria state’s Golden Triangle.

Aussie hobbyist unearths four-kilo gold nugget

“I was in total disbelief as I didn’t think nuggets of this size were still around,” the Age quoted the prospector. Initially mistaking a lump in the ground for the tip of a horseshoe, he dug a mere 30 centimetres to unearth the treasure. The previous find came from a depth of 60 centimetres.

The Age said he’d been working the area on weekends for about a decade. Now sitting in a bank vault, the nugget’s slated for the auction block.

Five of the world’s 10 biggest nuggets, including the top three, came from Victoria, according to the Discovery Channel. The biggest, Welcome Stranger, was a 72.02-kilogram whopper found in 1869. Following in size were the 68-kilo Welcome nugget found in 1858 and the 27.2-kilo Hand of Faith, found with a metal detector in 1980.

The Golden Triangle hosts a number of storied mining camps and towns including Ballarat, Bendigo and Mount Alexander. The 1854 miners’ rebellion at the Eureka Stockade near Ballarat ended with dozens of deaths but helped bring responsible government to the colony.

Australia’s promise to assist BHP with its Olympic Dam expansion a “cruel hoax”

December 17th, 2013

by Cecilia Jamasmie | December 16, 2013 | Reprinted by permission of MINING.com

The Australian government has vowed to help BHP Billiton NYE:BHP, the world’s largest mining company, go ahead with an estimated $33-billion expansion of its Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine, shelved last year as metal prices sank and costs rose.

“I want to ensure that as far as is humanly possible everything that government does is directed towards making it easier, not harder, for this iconic project to go ahead,” Bloomberg quotes Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Australia’s promise to assist BHP with its Olympic Dam expansion a cruel hoax

The mine expansion was cancelled in 2012
with sinking metal prices and rising costs.
(Photo: BHP Billiton)

But South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill is calling Abbott’s comments “a cruel hoax” as Weatherill claims to have spoken with BHP management last week and there was no indication of any plans to resume expansion of the mine.

His state is facing massive job losses as General Motors’ NYE:GM Holden unit will stop production in 2017 after 69 years, laying off about 2,900 workers in the state and in neighbouring Victoria.

“The impracticality and the illusion of that is a bit of an unfair thing to hold in front of those workers right at this moment,” Weatherill told the Herald Sun Monday.

“We need to work with those businesses which do have the capacity to expand their operations to ensure that they do that more quickly,” he added.

In September, chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said BHP would provide an update on the shelved $30-billion project in 2014, but any expanded mine site at Roxby Downs in South Australia’s far north was unlikely without a technological breakthrough.

Doubts about the lauded project first emerged in early 2012 when BHP told markets of its intention to cut back an $80-billion capex programme. A JP Morgan research note a few weeks later also suggested the Olympic Dam would not go ahead “for at least three or four years, if at all.”

The ambitious project in South Australia’s outback is expected to become the world’s largest uranium mine. It included the construction of 270 kilometres of powerlines, a 400-kilometre pipeline, a new desalination plant and a 105-kilometre railway.

The Olympic Dam, Australia’s largest underground mine, currently employs over 3,500 people.

Reprinted by permission of MINING.com

Week in review

January 18th, 2013

A mining and exploration retrospect for January 12 to 18, 2013

by Greg Klein

Next Page 1 | 2

Colombia kidnap victims still missing

By press time Friday, little was known about the five people abducted earlier in the day from Braeval Mining’s TSX:BVL Snow Mine gold project in northern Colombia. The three employees and two consultants included a Canadian, two Colombians and two Peruvians. The Peruvian consulate identified two victims as Javier Leandro Ochoa and Jose Antonio Mamani. The other names haven’t been released.

Colombian kidnap victims still missing

Military sources say the victims were abducted
in a rural area of Norosi municipality, in Bolivar department.

The hostages were taken by members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in a region described as a traditional ELN stronghold, the Globe and Mail reported. With an estimated 1,500 members, the ELN is much smaller than the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), news reports stated.

Although FARC holds peace negotiations with the government, “the ELN has been seeking peace talks … without success. Unlike the FARC, it has not renounced ransom kidnappings,” according to the G&M.

“Miners in Colombia have traditionally paid tributes, or ‘war taxes,’ to rebels and other illegal armed groups,” the paper added.

Geologist gets jail

A Vancouver court handed former mining executive John Gregory Paterson a six-year prison sentence for his faked assay scam, the CBC reported on Friday. Paterson pleaded guilty last September to four counts of fraud.

As CEO of Southwestern Resources and a qualified person, Paterson signed off on 433 assays that he invented between 2003 and 2007. His make-belief numbers were used in a 2005 PEA for the Boka Gold Project in China.

According to the CBC, Paterson’s lawyers told a sentencing hearing that “he suffers from severe depression and argued he didn’t carry out the fraud to line his pockets. Instead, Paterson was motivated by wishful thinking and a crippling fear of failure.”

But the Crown prosecutor told court how investors suddenly lost their savings. “Really, the floor fell out from underneath them,” the CBC quoted him. “It was an absolute shock and a terrible loss.”

Read more about Paterson’s Boka gold scam here.

Land claims clash with claim-staking

A possible overhaul of British Columbia’s claim-staking process could give natives more power to block early-stage exploration on Crown land. A Monday Vancouver Sun article discussed implications of a December decision by the Yukon Court of Appeal, which ruled that the territorial government must consult and “accommodate” the Ross River Dena Council before awarding mineral claims within the Ross River area.

So far the ruling concerns a region surrounding one native band. But it might have wider repercussions within the Yukon and B.C. As the Sun pointed out, the three judges behind the decision also sit on the B.C. Court of Appeal, “meaning they could rule similarly in any separate B.C. case.”

Mining Association of B.C. spokesperson Zoe Younger told the Sun that B.C., unlike the Yukon, doesn’t automatically approve exploration once a claim has been staked. Different circumstances “have different trigger points and thresholds,” she said.

Nevertheless the Sun stated that Andrew Gage, a lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law, “called the Yukon decision ‘hugely significant’ and urged the B.C. government to take notice or face the prospect of more litigation with the same results in this province.”

In a statement issued Monday, the Association for Mineral Exploration B.C. said, “We are encouraging the Yukon government, First Nations and Yukon Chamber of Mines to work together to resolve this issue in a practical way that brings certainty to everyone. AME BC is supporting YCM and following this important file closely. The government of Yukon has been given 60 days to determine if it will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.”

Next Page 1 | 2