Of late years great attention has been paid to the possibilities of gold-dredging in the colony, and up to the present the results have undoubtedly been encouraging. But that is all that can be said. Dredging operations are, however, extending, and it is quite possible that a payable industry may ultimately be established. The investor would do well to take note of its progress.

Queensland

Next to Western Australia Queensland mining shares are more largely represented on the mining market than those of any other Australian colony, whilst it also occupies the second place in respect of gold production. That it is a very rich colony cannot be refuted, and that it has enough gold wealth to last for many generations to come has likewise been amply demonstrated. But it has been under a cloud for many years now, English capitalists having ceased to take much interest in it. Whilst one can pick up a few good investment shares, the market is far too narrow a one to suit the speculator, and accordingly it is quite neglected by this class of people. There is no doubt that this field offers quite as good, if not better, chances of profitable investment than many of the more prominent British colonies - that is to say, if the promoter is allowed to have nothing to do with it; but I fear that the opportunities it offers will be neglected in favour of other fields - at least, for some years to come, and what is likely to happen after that it would be futile to predict. The principal mineral belt of the colony extends for some 800 miles in length and 200 in breadth, and this is practically undeveloped. It contains not gold alone, but minerals of every description, though gold, of course, is the chief.

The principal gold-fields of the colony are practically six, the names being: Charters Towers, Gyinpie, Mount Morgan, Ravenswood, Croydon, and Etheridge. During the past three years the gold output from these fields has gradually increased, as the following table will show:

1900.

1901.

January ...

59,861

40,296

February . .

74,947

68,651

March . . .

91,304

66,928

April . . .

74,944

69,296

May ....

101,233

68,000

June ....

100,892

69,600

July ....

79,768

-

August . . .

79,182

-

September . .

77,889

-

October . . .

69,880

-

November . .

79,470

-

December . .

62,295

-

Total. . . .

951,665

382,771

Total in 1899 .

946,894

-

Total in 1898 .

920,048

-

The principal gold-field is Charters Towers; in fact, it is one of the most important in the whole of the Australian colonies. Although, however, there have been opened up, and are still being worked, scores of mines, the majority of them are quite unimportant, being unpayable, whilst the minority have been paying for years, and still continue to pay small dividends. The reason of this is the irregularity and patchiness of the lodes. The principal mines known on the English market are the Brilliant, Brilliant St. George, Day Dawn Block and Wyndham, Victory, Bonnie Dundee, Brilliant Block, etc. Most of these mines are on the Brilliant line of reef, which is the richest lode on the field, and there is every likelihood of some of them paying dividends for many years to come. But the greatest mine in Queensland, and the greatest mine in the whole world, is the Mount Morgan, and it is one of the soundest investments that can be recommended to an investor. This magnificent mine was discovered in the year 1882, and its phenomenal richness led to its flotation as a public company four years later, with a capital of £1,000,000 in £1 shares, of which 17s. 6d. has been paid up. In the early days the ore was much richer than it has been for many years past, and the ore was simply quarried out from the top of a mountain, with the result that in the year 1889 no less than £1,100,000 was paid in dividends. It has, however, long settled down into a low-grade and more consistent and reliable mine, and it will probably still be working and paying dividends a half-century hence. The shares are not speculative shares, the bulk of them being held very tightly both here and in the colonies, so that the fluctuations in price are very narrow, and are likely to be as long as the mine lasts. The average dividend for a number of years has been 7d. per share per month, or at the rate of 35 per cent. per annum, and there is no great probability of any variation in it to such an extent as materially to affect the price of the shares.

The Gympie Gold-Field

The Gympie Gold-Field was discovered in the year 1867, and ever since then many mines have been opened up, and vigorous work has been carried on. Some of the mines, however, have been worked out, and the best of those remaining seem to be the No. 2 South Great Eastern, the North Smithfield, No. 1 North Oriental and Glanmire, No. 2 Great Eastern and Phoenix Golden Pile; but none of these can be called investment shares, and they are not attractive to the speculative gambler.

The Ravenswood Field

The Ravenswood Field was discovered in 1870, but it has been a disappointing field. The few mines that are still working are merely living from hand to mouth, and none of them are dealt in on the London mining market.

The Croydon Gold-Field

The Croydon Gold-Field is, however, fairly flourishing, and has ever since 1886, when mining work was first commenced, turned out a good supply of ore. Only one or two English companies own mines on this field, and of these we hear very little. The chief is the Croydon Consols, which paid one or two very small dividends in 1896 and 1897, but none since.

Whatever may be the prospects of the Etheridge gold-field in the future, its past has been exceedingly disappointing. It lacks railway communication and other facilities for helping a mining industry, and these can only be provided by capital, and as this capital is not likely to be forthcoming yet awhile, its future looks anything but a promising one.