The supply of water, therefore, is a very serious question for the investor and the speculator to consider if they would invest and speculate successfully; for if a mine has to be shut down through an insufficiency of it, it means a heavy fall in the price of the shares, and a loss on a year's working instead of a profit. Even on the Rand this scarcity has been seriously felt more than once, and probably will be felt again in the future, though, owing to the precautions that have been taken, it is not likely to be so acutely felt as in the past. Therefore, in reading a prospectus or in studying the situation of a mining property, we should make sure in our minds, not only that there is a plentiful supply of water, but that it is close at hand, and that it will not be difficult and expensive to get, otherwise this alone would be quite sufficient to insure the failure of a rich mine.
Timber and fuel are also vital necessities for a mine's success, and it should be ascertained if these exist in abundance, and are inexpensively procurable. If they are not abundant anywhere in the neighbourhood, it means that they will have to be procured from a distance, at an outlay that will make appreciable inroads in the profits. Transport facilities is also another matter of supreme importance, the absence of which may make all the difference between success and failure. If there are no railways, it means great expense in getting machinery and necessary supplies to the mine, and also in despatching ore, metal, etc., away from it. All this will add enormously to the working expenses of a mine, and even be so great as to make even a 2-oz. ore unpayable. Therefore, because a mine may be uncommonly rich, it does not follow that it can be worked successfully, for the working expenses may swallow up all the returns, and there may be nothing left to divide amongst the shareholders. The shares of such a company, therefore, are not to be bought as an investment, and they are certainly not good for speculation.
Other matters to consider are the distance from the nearest port; the titles to the mine; the conditions and the length of the leases; the mining laws; if leases can be renewed, and on what terms; the supply of labour; wages of the skilled and unskilled; developments in neighbouring properties; the extent to which the mine is developed; what shafts have been sunk, and to what depth; what amount of dead work is to be done; when the reef is expected to be struck; whether the reef is patchy; whether the ground is easily or with difficulty worked; the machinery on the mine, and likely to be needed; whether there is ample room for machinery, sites, dams, and tailings-pits; the ore in sight; width and average of the lode; life of the mine, etc. These do not exhaust everything, but if due attention be paid to them, or most of them, it will correspondingly diminish the risks both of investment and speculation.