Golden Fleece 5-Stamper
Blacks Point Museum
Reefton, New Zealand
Every time I visit a mill I record and write up a report that night. Following are my notes on the Golden Fleece battery near Reefton, New Zealand:
April 5, 2014
We arrived at Reefton at about 11:30 and stopped at the first stamp mill site at Black’s Point Museum. I talked with Curator, Peter Lawn and Bill Watts, who was involved with moving the battery to its present location in the 1970’s, about the stamp mill that was on site. The museum’s Website is firstname.lastname@example.org . I also talked with a person by the name of Cory that copied my thumb drive information. He was coming to California in the summer and wanted to visit stamp mill areas. I sent him an Email via the museum and he responded that he received it.
Bill told me the original mine on this location was long removed. The present mill building was built right over where the cyanide tanks were located. You could still see the foundations of the cyanide tanks. I talked with Bill Watts, who was involved with the original set up of the new mill and he said that the current stamp mill came from the Golden Fleece Mine and was brought to the present location partially by helicopter since it was so far back in the bush. He talked about the 24” water line that brings water from a pond about 60’ above the current mill. You would think that it was the original pipe, but no, it was installed in the 1970’s when the Golden Fleece stamper was moved on site. They were amazed by the water’s caustic nature and ended up getting leaks in the line several years after installation. They buried a new supply line under the original line to supply the 2 pelton wheels to run the current mill.
I have done some further investigation on the history of the mill and the picture below shows the mill when it was operating:
The 5-stamped battery is powered by a pelton wheel. The mill was called the Golden Fleece Stamper Battery and was transferred a few miles from a local mine. Some was transported by helicopter. The stamp mill that was originally on site was removed many years ago. The pelton wheel actually works and is supplied from a pond about ¼ mile up the hill in back of the mill building. The stamper was manufactured at the Langland Foundry, Melbourne, Australia. The original mill was about 100 yards north from the present stamper building. The only remnants are the foundations of the 10-stamper battery. The cyanide tanks were located where the present building is located. The picture below shows the present location of the stamper battery.
The picture below shows the 5-stamper battery with the mercury sluice and carpet sluice tables in the foreground.
All you have to do it copy the address below and paste on to the Internet.
There is a 14” water pipe that delivers the water to the mill building from the pond about 30 meters above the mill building. They also had a Berdan wheel that would crush the ore down to a fine powder. The Battery had a copper plate to remove the gold and then a set of plates with a carpet installed. The table was divided down the center to allow one side to be cleaned while the other continued to operate. They would take the concentrates in the rug and put it into the berdan wheel with a cup of mercury that would crush and the mercury would absorb the exposed gold. There were quite a few Berdan wheels seen on the trip and were used along with the stamper batteries.
I will discuss the operation of the stamper battery in conjunction with the Berdan Wheel. I have only seen one Berdan wheel in the States. It was at the North Star Museum in Grass Valley California. The process was used in Australia and New Zealand and incorporated for the gold that was not captured in the sluice tables. After the material left the sluice table it went over another sluice table with a fabric material that captures the larger gold and concentrates that was missed by the sluice and mercury. They would run the process for awhile and then would bypass one side of the table and remove the rug and put the contents in the Berdan Wheel and would add a cup of mercury to capture the gold. They used either a large steel ball about 10” in diameter or a steel slug that was suspended so that the slug would be stationary and grind down the material into a very fine powder. I have seen the Berdan Wheels at several of the stamper Battery’s in both Australia and New Zealand. The following is a picture with the process described:
In addition, there was a one stamper battery a mile from the Black's Point Museum. We went into Reefton and visited the Bearded Mining Co. Ltd.
located on main street and the owner had a single stamper (right) that was run with a motor, but could also be run manually. It had a cylinder that moved the stamp up and down and you need to manually feed the stamper.