William Nicholl marked out a 5 acres (20,000 m2) claim, calling it "Martha" after a family member. Several smaller claims were later merged to form the Martha Company. By 1882 the first battery to break gold-bearing rock was in operation. The Martha Mine eventually grew into one of the world's most important gold and silver mines, after industrial cyanide processes made recovering gold from the low-grade ores easier. Waihi prospered with the mine, by 1908 being the fastest-growing town in the Auckland Province, three times the size of Hamilton. Underground mining ended in 1952, but not because the mine had run out of gold; current operation is evidence of this. Rather, a series of factors led to a decline in production. Chief among those was the international gold price, which was fixed at $US35 an ounce, limiting the revenue the mine could make. Other factors included the need for a substantial capital expenditure to update the machinery. Although the technology was available to do this, the money was not. Manpower issues also factored into the decision to close the underground mine. There had been two World Wars and the Depression of the 1930s, depleting manpower and creating a difficult economic climate..
It was not possible, given these factors, to profitably mine the lower grade ore.
In the 1970s and early 1980s the gold price increased. Exploration and prospecting work identified the economic resource that could be profitably exploited through a lower cost open pit approach. The mine was reopened, and continues in production today.
From the 1880s to 1952 the Martha Mine was an underground mine. The mine became one of the most important gold and silver mines in the world. By 1952, when the mine closed, around 5.6 million ounces (174,160kg) of gold and 38.4 million ounces (1,193,180kg) of silver had been produced from 11,932,000 tonnes of ore. The modern Martha Mine has operated as an open pit since 1987. An average of around 100,000 ounces of gold and 700,000 ounces of silver have been produced annually since 1988.
Some environmental protests occurred during the 1987 consenting process for further mine operations. In 2001, subsidence in the area caused a collapse of a house, and the operating company has recently agreed to pay compensation to about 130 households for various negative effects due to noise, blast vibrations and dust.
- Newmont Waihi Gold Ltd - Martha Mine
|This New Zealand-related article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|
|This Waikato Region geography article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|