In this chapter I purpose to give a brief account of the positions of a few of the leading outcrop mines as they stood before the outbreak of the war, with the dividends they have paid during recent years, the highest and lowest prices of the shares for some years past, and the priced at which I consider they may be bought with comparative safety, the price allowing for redemption of capital. I shall not include many doubtful shares, but take the very best of their kind, shares which can be unhesitatingly recommended both to the investor and the speculator. Of course, I shall assume in every case that the old dividends will be resumed as soon as normal conditions are restored, whilst the greater likelihood is that the dividends will be much increased in the majority of the mines, with a probable prolongation of the lives of them. As regards their lives, we must take the official estimates, the only estimates on which we can rely. I shall calculate the price of the share on a dividend of 8 per cent., which I think should be the minimum return even of a Rand outcrop.

Angelo Gold-Mines

This company is a subsidiary of the famous East Rand Proprietary Company, and was formed in 1895. The property consists of 162 claims, 87 1/2 of which contain the North Reef, and 60 1/2 the South Reef. The mine commenced to mill in 1897, and so far the South Reef only has been worked. The company has a mill of 110 stamps. During 1898 95,074 tons were crushed for 45,089 oz. of gold, giving an average of 8.33 dwt. to the ton; 75,278 tons of tailings were treated for 26,191 oz. of fine gold, an average of 6.96 dwt. of fine gold per ton, and since then, until the beginning of the war, continuous crushing has been in progress, with the most excellent results. The company has paid two dividends, each of 25 per cent. - in April, 1898, and March, 1899. A reconstruction scheme is under consideration for extending the area of the property by taking in dip ground. The company proposes to acquire 136 claims from the East Rand Company, whilst increasing the mill to 220 stamps. The capital would then be increased to £625,000, and the official life would be estimated at about seventeen years. I consider the shares a good purchase at £6 10s. It seems likely that the company will pay 80 to 100 per cent. dividends in the future, and probably higher.

Apex

This has long been one of the favourite shares in the South African list. The property extends over some 7,560 acres, lying south-east of the East Rand area. Boreholes have been sunk and have tested the existence of the reef over the greater part of this area, but the ore has been of low grade. Coal-measures have also been struck, and the seams have been worked at a profit. There have also been planted one million trees on the property, and the company owns one-third interest in 183 claims on Benoni. In 1889 the shares reached 8 3/4, the lowest being 3. Last year the highest was 7 3/8, and the lowest 3 1/4. No official life of the property is given.

Block B

The property of this company comprises some 145 Main Reef claims, and the authorized capital is £632,500 divided into 82,500 preference shares of £1 each, and 550,000 ordinary shares of £1 each, all of which have been issued. Crushing commenced in 1891, and both the South Reef and the Main Reef have been worked. The dividends, 8 per cent. cumulative, have always been paid on the preference shares, whilst the ordinary received 7 1/2 per cent. in December, 1889. In 1895 the shares reached a price of 3 3/16; but of recent years they have been only a little over par. They are at present at a discount, and are a safe purchase at that or at par.

City And Suburban

The shares of this company are £4. This is one of the most prosperous of the outcrop mines. The company has paid regular dividends since 1888, though of late years the distributions have been very small. The reef-bearing area is reckoned at about 155 claims. The bulk of the non-mineralized area is freehold ground, and is portioned out as town stands, and this brings in a profit of about £5,000 a year. Therefore the growth of the population will increase the value of this asset. The life of the mine is estimated at nineteen or twenty years. The share has never been higher than 8, which was reached in 1895, and it has been as low as 2 3/4, in 1897. At £6 the shares should be a safe purchase.

Comet (New)

This company, like the Angelo, is also a subsidiary of the East Rand Proprietary Company. It paid its first dividend of 12 1/2 per cent. in March of last year. A project is also under consideration for extending the area of this property by taking in dip ground. The capital will then be raised to £450,000, and the extent of the property will be increased to 182 claims. The battery will at the same time be brought up to 150 stamps. The life of the property is estimated at from eighteen to twenty years. In the year 1895 the price of the shares reached 4 3/4, but since then they have stood several times at a discount. The highest price last year was 3 3/8, and the lowest 1 3/4. They might be bought with safety at £3.

Crown Reef

This company has been one of the high dividend payers, distributions having been made regularly since the year 1888. In the year 1898 a dividend of 240 per cent. was paid, and 140 per cent. in 1899, up to October. The property consists of about 120 claims and surface rights. But its life is likely to be but a short one, being estimated at five and a half years. During that period dividends of 240 per cent. are likely to be paid. The company also owns 51 deep-level claims, held by bezitrecht, and 42 1/2 bewaarplaatsen claims. In 1899 the price of the shares was at one time £20, but they also went as low as 13 3/4. The shares are worth intrinsically about £16.