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Gold Mining Gold Standard and Gold

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GOLD MINING; GOLD STANDARD AND GOLD aonticrioN). In 1898 there were employed upon the Rand 9,476 whites and 88,627 Kaffirs. The attempt to introduce Chinese labor early in the century was but partially successful. In December 1915 there were 23,069 whites and 223,764 native negro workers in the mines. The white laborers are predominantly British, though the leading consulting and superintend ing engineers and many of the important mem bers of the technical staffs are Americans. The mine- and mill-foremen are usually either Americans or British subjects who have had mining experience in America. These men are generally thoroughly competent; but the aver age of white labor as a whole, especially among carpenters and machinists, is far below the American standard. Considerable improve ment, however, is taking place in this regard. A large part of the manual laborers on the surface and all the miners except those running machine-drills are blacks — Basuto, Zulu, Shan gani and Zambesi The quality of this black (native) labor is very poor. Most of the "boys" are utterly inexperienced when first em ployed; and they rarely remain long enough to acquire great proficiency. When they arrive, making in many cases tramps of several hun dred miles to reach the mines, they are in an emaciated condition and require to be "fattened up" for several weeks. After a few months' sojourn they become fine specimens physically; and, in some cases, they remain long enough at the mines to become expert miners. But it is exceptional to find great efficiency among the "boys° in drilling holes. They receive average monthly wages (1902) of f2 9s. and their board (which amounts to about 12s per month). Their task is a hole of three feet per day. The holes to be drilled are located by the shift boss and the holes are fired by him, firing by the "boys° being usually forbidden. Some of them, however, acquire sufficient knowledge to fire a hole and also to run a machine-drill. The latter work is generally done by contract, and the con tracts are given to whites.

By reason of the rapidly increasing demand for labor and the obstacles interposed by the Boer government, there was a great deficiency of native labor. As a result large numbers of air-drills have been necessarily employed in stoping, to the great disadvantage of the mines,' since much of the ground is of such a character as to make stoping by machine-drills econom ically unadvisable. Where the reefs are flat or small, the employment of drills necessitates the breaking down of much larger blocks of ground than would be necessary with hand-drills. Moreover, work under such conditions involves the excessive use of dynamite—an important item where dynamite is as expensive as it has been upon the Rand—and creates at the same time an undue amount of fine waste, which not only lowers the yield of the ore in the battery, but increases the production of slimes.

The percentage of working costs of mining is given in the subjoined table, from which may be seen that the white and the native labor represent about 30 per cent each.

producer of gold, with an output that year of $123,000,000. It could and should have been even greater, for the gold was there, and the stamp-mills, but the laborers were few. White men do not many of them care to go to South Africa, and the natives are not inclined to hard work. Chinese were imported, but they did not like it, and after getting in a few thousand the experiment was abandoned. Then came the tube mill, as an improvement on the time honored steam-pump, and this helped the pro duction. In 1903 the 7,915 stamps were half of them idle most of the time. In 1916 there were 9,250 stamps and 310 tube mills, and the product over three times as great, the average monthly reduction being 2,370 tons of ore, averaging 6.26 hundredweight gold per ton, or f3,170,000. The cost of production is still phe nomenally low, although 54 per cent of it is labor. In 1916 the average ton of ore cost $4.34 to mine and turn into gold, and yielded a profit of $1.96. Those who think a gold mine must be all profit may well reflect on this, that if the cost in these greatest of mines had been 45 per cent greater, there would have been no profit in getting out the gold. The largest producing Rand mines in 1916 were the following: Before the Boer War the difficulty of secur ing adequate labor was so pronounced that Cecil Rhodes, some 10 years ago, appealed to the Transvaal government for permission to im port coolies for work in the Rand mines, but was met with a curt refusal on the part of President Kruger. Since the incorporation of the two Boer republics into the British empire matters have become still worse in this respect. For, whereas in 1897 about 100,000 Kaffirs were working in the mines, it was found impossible in 1903 to secure more than 60,000, and no fewer than 200,000 were needed. All attempts to obtain native labor from other parts of British Africa failed, owing to the inherent indolence of the black man and to his particular aversion to underground work. The conse quence was that the owners were unable to work their mines to anything approaching their full limit. This was all the more serious when it is borne in mind that throughout the war, and for some time afterward, the Transvaal mines, comprising the most important gold producing area of the world, were practically at a standstill, causing a scarcity of gold.

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