Based on research by J. E. Carne and others, it is clear that Cadia was the second mine to have a relatively efficient and complete range of copper smelting furnaces in New South Wales in 1861-1862. The earlier mines had defective smelting furnaces, as described by Stutchbury or Carne.
This evaluation excludes smelters that were located away from mine sites. In fact, the first official record of smelting in Australia is at the Newcastle Copper Smelting Works in 1846, using ores from South Australia. These smelters appear to be the ones located at Smelters Beach, on Thomas Mitchell’s Burwood Estate, just south of Newcastle.
The following mines were researched in the order they appear in Carne’s list of copper mines:
The Copper Hill Copper Mine.
The Copper Hill Copper Mine, just north of Molong, was the first opened up in New South Wales in 1845. It is listed as having a smelter by Carne, but the most likely date for its construction is 1847-1851. In 1847 a company was formed to work the lode, with Mr. (later Sir) Randolph J. Want as managing director. “Shafts were sunk 70 and 146 feet, and smelters erected. A quantity of ore was converted to regulus and carted to Sydney…” The company ceased operations in 1851, when gold was discovered. A Mr. Clymo was formerly manager of the mine.
Carne further states that “Some unsuccessful attempts at smelting had been made, the failure of which Mr. Stutchbury attributed to probably the unsuitable open-mouthed furnaces adopted.” The fact that S. Stutchbury, the first Government Geological Surveyor, reported on the smelters at Copper Hill means that the smelters must have been in operation or have gone out of use before 1855, when he resigned for reasons of ill health. The more likely date of the smelters is 1847 to 1851, which is when the company were operating the mine.
Three later reverberatory furnaces were erected in 1871 by the Molong Consols Copper-mining Company.
The Summerhill Copper Mine.
The Summerhill Copper Mine, near Rockley, was first worked in 1847. It is listed as having a smelter by Carne, but the most likely date for its construction is 1847-1851.
The Bathurst Copper Mining Company was established in 1848 to mine the copper. There were three shafts, one of which was named Clymo’s, which may indicate the involvement of a Mr. Clymo at this mine too. In April 1851, Mr. S Stutchbury described the attempts at smelting, which were in progress. “The experiment of smelting with green timber is in a fair way of being successfully proved. Although working under the disadvantages of an ill-constructed, half worn-out air furnace, the produce of the first process was encouraging.” The fact that a furnace had been erected at the mine was also reported in the Mining Journal, London, in 1854. A Mr. H. Clements, the son of the original owner of the Summerhill Estate, described the smelting process as heap roasting and reverberatory smelting, “but judging from the frequent occurrence of prills of metallic copper in the slag, the latter was badly performed.”
Another reverberatory furnace was erected in 1902.
The Good Hope Copper Mine.
The Good Hope Copper Mine, near Yass, was owned by the Scottish Australian Mining Company. It is listed as having a smelter by Carne, but there is no record of a smelter in the description of the mine. It was opened as early as 1849. Further research may reveal the date of construction of a smelter at this mine.
The Coombing Park Copper Mine.
The Coombing Park Copper Mine, located south of Carcoar, was probably opened up in 1849 by Mr. Reed, former mine captain of the failed Belubula Copper Mine (opened in 1845), for Thomas Icely. It is listed as having a smelter by Carne, but the first smelter was erected at the mine by Messrs. Samuel and Young in 1876.
The Carangara (or Carangera) Copper Mine.
The Carangara (or Carangera) Copper Mine, at Byng (formerly Cornish Settlement), was described by S. Stutchbury in April 1851. It is listed as having a smelter by Carne, but, relying on his evidence alone, the most likely date for its construction is post 1872, the smelter being located at Icely. However, using other evidence it can be seen that a smelting works was constructed there between 1859 and 1861.
The Carangara Copper Mining Company Incorporation Bill was the subject of a report by a Select Committee in August 1854.
John Penrose Christoe was mining and smelting manager at Byng, the Cornish Settlement from c. 1859. This ties in with a reference in the correspondence of the Scottish Australian Mining Company, dated 21 July 1861, referring to the previous experience of. Christoe, as follows:
“Mr. Christoe can proceed to erect furnaces, and to carry on smelting, with the confidence that is engendered by his having already done all this, with perfect success, in the neighbourhood, his local expertise, therefore, will enable him to proceed with an economy and efficiency that no other metallurgist could bring to bear”.
Given that he only worked at Byng from 1859 onwards, the smelters at Byng can be dated between 1859 and 1861.
While Carne states that “Mining and smelting were carried on in this locality for a number of years, but no particulars are obtainable of the output”, it is unclear whether he is referring to the 1850s to 1860s or the activities undertaken by the Great Western Copper Mining Company from 1872 onwards.
The Carangara Copper Mining Company worked a number of mines, extending to Lewis Ponds, including Britannia, Belmore, Moonta, Nelson, Gurophian, Ophir, Icely, East Block, Mt Fraser, Algar and others. These mines were opened up from the 1850s or later and were floated into a public company in 1872, known as the Great Western Copper Mining Company. According to Captain W. R. Reynolds, a former company mine manager, the Great Western Copper Mining Company has its smelter at Icely, which smelted the ores from the other mines.
Cadia Copper Mine.
According to the earliest official record available to Carne, dated to 1870, the Cadia Copper Mine had “a complete range of furnaces”. More detailed research indicates that the furnaces were built in 1861 and 1862.
The Great Western Copper Mining Company, Icely.
The Great Western Copper Mining Company was formed in 1872. According to Captain W. R. Reynolds, a former company mine manager, the Great Western Copper Mining Company has its smelter at Icely, which smelted the ores from the other mines.
Ophir Copper Mine.
Although the Ophir Copper Mine was opened up in 1852 and taken over by the Great Western Copper Mining Company, no smelter at this location is described by Carne, even though he had listed a smelter for the mine. Again it is assumed that the smelter, to which the list may refer, is located at Icely under the management of the Great Western Copper Mining Company.