Gold in the tailings

Interest in Kaniere gold tailings
By Brendon McMahon

Potentially virgin ground on the old Kaniere goldfield diggings behind Hokitika could be mined again if an application to the Government’s Crown Mineral agency New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals is successful.
Southern Alluvial Management Ltd has applied for an exploration permit for five years on 962 hectares of the historic gold field at Tucker’s Flat, first mined in 1865.
Dunedin based consulting geologist, Barry MacDonell, lodged the application on behalf of Southern Alluvial last month, an Auckland registered company of which Mr MacDonell is a director.
He said it would be six months before the company knew if it would get the go ahead for exploration.
“It’s an opportunity to go through the historical data and think about what resource might be remaining,” Mr MacDonell said.
There were two angles to the company’s exploration permit application. Firstly, to find out if previous mining methods had overlooked virgin ground and to see if previous dredging had been able to work through the full depth of the alluvial gold field.
Re-examining historical data such as old aerial photos of the tailings would help the company pinpoint areas where previous dredging had missed virgin ground, he said.
“When the dredge was turning around they quite often left dredging ground behind.”
Mr MacDonell said the company was also motivated to apply now to ensure the historic goldfield was not taken up by other exploration interests, especially from overseas.
“It’s early days for us … it just gives us an opportunity to spend a bit of time and money to review.”
The area was last systematically mined by the Kanieri Gold Dredging Company between 1938 and 1953. The dredge won 175,000 ounces during its 15 year operation at Tucker’s Flat.
When it began in 1938 the company needed to gain 400 ounces of gold per month to be viable.