Rhodesia commenced its career as a gold producer in the latter part of 1898, when the first returns were made by the Geelong and Selukwe companies, each of which was crushing with a twenty-stamp battery. The production showed steady progress until the end of the year, and amounted for the four months to 18,085 oz. When the war broke out it interfered greatly with the production, but not to so serious an extent as might naturally have been expected. There was a great jump in the production in August of last year, and this was improved upon during the next two months. But there was a falling off during November and December. This year there has been a steady monthly increase, in spite of the dearth of native labour, and we may now look forward, I think, to a maintenance of this improvement, especially as the prospect of getting labour is improving and the war is drawing to a close. The following table gives in detail the monthly production of the gold-field since the first returns, and it will serve as a record with which future comparisons can be made:

1898.

1899.

1900.

1901.

oz.

oz.

oz.

oz.

January.....

-

6,371

5,242

10,787

February... .

-

6,424

6,233

12,237

March....

-

6,614

6,286

14,289

April .....

-

5,755

5,456

14,998

May .....

-

4,939

6,554

14,469

June ....

-

6,104

6,185

14,863

July ....

-

6,031

5,737

15,651

August....

-

3,177

10,137

-

September ....

2,346

5,653

10,718

-

October.....

3,913

4,276

10,725

-

November .....

5,567

4,670

9,170

-

December .....

6,259

5,289

9,373

-

18,085

65,303

91,816

97,294

The following is a list of the individual returns from the beginning of the year to the end of June:

Jan.

Feb.

March.

April.

May.

June.

oz.

oz.

oz.

oz.

oz.

oz.

Alice Proprietary .

428

277

243

483

551

660

Antenior . . .

272

562

561

645

658

644

Ayrshire .....

-

-

-

226

270

-

Beatrice .....

-

-

1,207

2,480

-

-

Colenbranders .....

-

-

-

-

101

-

Criterion .....

-

124

-

-

-

-

Dunraven....

1,360

1,110

1,201

1,253

1,230

1,147

Eagle-Vulture .....

311

649

642

495

. 531

412

Geelong .

-

602

*1,331

1,235

†l,349

1,584

Globe and Phoenix .

5,004

4,864

5,103

5,022

5,737

5,702

Lomagunda Development .

125

204

220

-

-

-

Matabele Gold Reef

-

566

-

-

-

-

Premier Tati Monarch Reef

-

-

-

-

-

-

Bezende ....

857

1,133

1,145

1,042

1,176

898

Selukwe .

1,385

1,661

3,003

2,035

2,866

3,110

West Nicholson

332

-

-

-

-

-

Miscellaneous .....

-

483

-

82

-

-

Official total ....

10,787

12,237

14,289

14,998

14,469

14,863

* Including cyanide return for February.

† Ditto for April.

There are already something like 300 stamps at work, or, rather, erected, and when these can be kept fully employed - and that cannot be expected until the end of the war, and for some time afterwards - it will mean a great increase in the monthly production. Besides these, there are some 300 others in the process of erection or on order, but we shall have to wait probably for a year or two before the majority of them will be at work.

The following is a list of the stamps already erected:

Name of Company.

Number of Stamps.

Alice Proprietary Mines....

10

Antenior ...

10

Beatrice.....

10

Bonsor........

50

Consolidated Belingwe Development..

5

Criterion Developing.....

5

Dunraven .......

20

Eagle-Vulture......

10

Filabusi.......

5

Geelong......

40

Globe and Phoenix .......

40

Lomagunda Development......

5

Mashonaland Development......

5

Matabele Gold Reefs and Estates...

5

Penhalonga Proprietary.......

5

Rezende.......

10

Selukwe......

40

West Nicholson....

10

The following is a list of those which are being erected or are on order, which I have taken from the Statist:

Name of Company.

Number of Stamps.

Austro-Rhodesian Development...

10

Ayrshire Gold Mine ...

... 100

Eagle-Vulture....

5

Geelong....

20

Jessie Reef....

15

Matabele Sheba....

10

Monomtapa Development...

5

Morven (Rhodesia) .....

10

North Bonsor....

30

Penhalonga Proprietary....

40

Red and White Rose....

20

Rezende.....

10

Salisbury Reef....

25

Surprise....

30

V. V. Gwanda....

10

Wanderer (Selukwe)....

40

West Nicholson....

50

Total ...

430

Cyanide Plant Erected

Geelong Gold Mining Company.

Globe and Phoenix Gold Mining Company.

Rezende.

On Order

Antenior (Matabele) Gold Mines. Beatrice (Rhodesia) Company. Bonsor Gold Mining Company. Eagle-Vulture Mines. Jessie Reef Gold Mining Company. Matabele Sheba Gold Mining Company. Red and White Rose Gold Mining Company. Selukwe Gold Mining Company. Wanderer (Selukwe) Gold Mining Company. West Nicholson Gold Mining Company.

Another discovery which will have supreme influence on the fortunes of the country is that of coal, for the question of fuel is one of the first importance. It was known as far back as 1878 that there were large deposits of coal in the country, and recently immense deposits have been found to exist in the Wankie district, some 200 miles north-west of Buluwayo. It is computed that the total area believed to contain these coal deposits, more or less intermittently, is 400 square miles. The portion of the area now being developed is about seven square miles. At one point where proved by shafts the seams were found to be 34 feet in thickness, and the quality is stated by experts to be superior to the average quality of Welsh steam coal. Hence the country will be well off as regards railways and fuel, and as there is a fair supply of timber and water, there will be found every facility for economical working. The most serious question, therefore, is that of the labour-supply, and the prospects at present do not look overhopeful, although they are improving. Several mines have had to shut down from time to time, the Bonsor having suspended crushing operations for some eighteen months. Every effort is being made to solve the problem, and in time we may hope that success will attend these efforts. It was at one time thought that an attempt would be made to import Chinese labour, but this excited so much local prejudice that the intention was abandoned.

At a recent meeting of the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce the president said that the executive had finally come to the conclusion that it was impossible to get sufficient local labour for the present requirements of the country. The natives do not work for three months in the year, but even admitting that they did work three months, 56,000 would have to be provided to meet present requirements. An experiment has been made with Abyssinians, and it has not been wholly unsuccessful. Arab labour has also been imported from Aden, and it seems as if, with the assistance of the British Government, the needs of the country will be supplied to a very great extent from this source. But in the last resort the country must look to Portuguese East Africa. Some months ago an arrangement was come to between the Rand and the Rhodesian mining authorities under which, in consideration of Rhodesia refraining from endeavouring to recruit native labour in certain districts, it should be supplied with 12 1/2 per cent. of the Shangaans which the Rand obtained from Portuguese East Africa. But, unfortunately, this arrangement has become inoperative by reason of a difficulty with the Portuguese Government, which has prohibited the recruiting of labour within its territories. This, however, is likely to be but temporary, and should easily be overcome by diplomatic means. No doubt it will be one of the earliest questions to which Lord Milner will direct his attention.

But in spite of all these drawbacks we shall undoubtedly witness a boom in Rhodesian shares immediately the war is over. And many of the shares at low prices should be bought for investment. But much of the activity will be speculative only, and this I shall be sorry to see, for it will only lead to many abuses, and leave behind it a legacy of evils from which it will take the market and the industry a long time to recover. One thing in favour of the individual companies is the mining law, which is similar to that in the United States. So long as a company has the outcrop of a reef running through its claims, it can follow that reef down to any depth, even though it may run under several properties, which are working lodes running parallel with or across it, and therefore, provided the reef continues, the mine need not shut down until it attains such a depth that, on account of the heavy expenses of mining and raising the ore, it can no longer be profitably worked. Therefore, each property carries its own deep level, free of all cost.