In the glossary appended to this work I have attempted to give a brief explanation of many of the technical words that are so frequently used in mining reports, and that are not understood and cannot be grasped by the average layman. Therefore I think it advisable to devote a chapter to the giving of a fuller explanation of many of the commoner terms used, and to do this by the help of illustrations. Our financial papers, especially the daily papers, contain many columns of the reports of mine-managers, which are undoubtedly of the greatest help to mining investors and speculators; but if these reports, studded as they are with technical phrases, are so much unintelligible gibberish to them, then they are of little value - or of little practical value - to the ordinary shareholder, and he might just as well be without them. It would be possible, of course, to make them much more comprehensible if the directors of mining companies would take the trouble to make them clearer. The work could be given to the consulting engineers on this side, and I do not see that it would entail so very much labour and expense, and there is no doubt that shareholders would be most willing to go to that expense if they could benefit greatly from it in another way. I should therefore very much like to see a reform started in the form of publishing managers' reports, but I have no hopes that such an innovation will be attempted. It suits the directors of too many companies to make them as unintelligible as possible and to puzzle the shareholders, whilst such a reform might often entail the publishing of that which they would rather conceal.
It is the habit of many companies to issue very meagre reports, which give us no practical information whatever, and which leave us as much in the dark respecting their positions and prospects as though no such reports had been issued. Others adopt a policy of quite the opposite kind, and, if anything, give a little too much detail, which only bewilders the shareholders. The directors of the Indian companies adopt this policy. Nothing could be more admirable than their policy of giving the shareholders every scrap of information that comes to them, but I fear that very few have the patience to read through these lengthy, dry reports, and still fewer are able to grasp them. I think, therefore, shareholders would be better pleased if they could be summarized, and if only the salient points were given in a more lucid manner. I throw out this suggestion to the directors of these great Indian companies, for they might thus commence a reform that might be followed by a large number of other companies, a reform that would be a great boon to mining shareholders, and help not a little to attract those to mining investment who have been scared by the technicalities of it. These technicalities are to them so many snares, but take these snares away and we would certainly find them become more venturesome. By studying the monthly or fortnightly reports shareholders are able to follow the developments of a mine, to know how it is opening up, and those who study them have a great advantage over those who do not, for they can often tell whether the shares they hold are likely to become more valuable or less valuable. If the former, then they would not sell their shares, and if the latter, they would be able to sell them at the right moment. But even then those reports might give false information, for they might be 'cooked'; that is to say, the directors might alter them and rewrite them to suit their purposes. These risks, however, are not easily to be avoided, unless we know the directors to be dishonest, unscrupulous men. And such knowledge is only to be gained in the majority of cases from experience.
Now, we hear of a reef outcropping or showing itself on the surface of a property, and we assume that that reef goes down in depth. But we cannot reach that reef or work it out in the bowels of the earth without sinking a shaft, nor, of course, can we know without testing it what its value may be at a few hundred feet below the surface. Therefore a vertical shaft is sunk to a certain depth to try and strike the reef. The following illustration will show what I mean:
Here the reef outcrops at the place B on the surface of the property A, and the manager sinks a vertical shaft C, and succeeds in striking the reef at, say, 300 feet. He finds it rich there, and assumes that it will also be rich nearer the surface. Accordingly, he drives levels or tunnels through the country rock D at intervals of 50 or 100 feet, as follows:
The ore is then worked out of the reef, or stoped out, as it is technically called, and taken up to the surface through the shaft. Or another shaft may be sunk nearer to the lode, to facilitate the labour and to lessen the expense of haulage. Sometimes, however, instead of sinking vertical shafts, what are called underlie shafts are driven; that is to say, they may be sunk vertically for a little distance from the surface, and then they are continued on the dip of the reef, and this is supposed greatly to lessen the expense and the labour. The following illustration will convey an idea of it:
At the place B the shaft is sunk vertically, and afterwards it goes off at an angle to follow the reef C as it dips. Sometimes two underlie shafts are sunk, and at intervals levels are driven to prove the value of the lode, and these levels will meet and thus improve the ventilation of the mine and facilitate the haulage of the ore. From these levels here and there winzes will be sunk, which are merely small shafts from level to level, and rises will be driven, which are small shafts worked upwards instead of downwards, and these rises and winzes will then meet. From these rises and winzes the ore is stoped out, as shown in the following illustration: