Rich as the country may be, it must not be overlooked that it is entirely undeveloped. Boreholes have been sunk here and there, and proved that the reef exists at depth. So far so good. That is undoubtedly promising, and will justify the sinking of shafts where the reef has just been proved. But even then there may be disappointments until the reef has been actually proved all the way. A great deal has been made of the fact that the formation is similar to that of the Rand, and the word 'banket' has quite a magic ring with it. This rallying word will henceforth be sounded for all it is worth; but many mines may have the banket formation, or any other formation, and yet be failures. Considering how high the working costs are likely to be, the ore will have to be much richer than it is on the Rand, and only development work will prove that. One mine may be very rich, and its neighbour very poor, so that it is impossible for anyone to calculate what the intrinsic value of a West African share is. At any rate, it is utterly absurd to say that a share standing at 30 to 40 per cent. premium, when no development work whatever has been done on the property, is standing at its true value. But apart from development work, the majority of the properties have not been tested even by such an instrument as a diamond bore. So long as it is in the magical Tarkwa district, that is good enough for the promoter and the public. It may be a hundred miles away, but that is a trifle in a vast place like West Africa, and is quite insignificant to mar an imaginative picture of fabulous wealth. The Tarkwa district has been proved to carry gold over a considerable portion of it, and the reef may be found to exist from one end of it to the other. But, on the other hand, considerable portions will be found to be as barren as Ludgate Hill, and only useful for the humble service of waste heaps. Up to the present the reef has been found to outcrop on the western side of a ridge that runs north-east and south-west. The ground north of the reef is of no value. The strike of the reef is north-east and south-west, with the dip to the west. Hence a property situated to the east of the outcrop is valueless, unless subsequent discoveries should prove it to be otherwise. This is a fact which investors and speculators would be wise to bear in mind, when prospectuses of new companies are sent to them, for it may save them from many losses. This fact will be entirely ignored by the promoter. It will not matter to him one iota where the reef outcrops or where it dips. So long as he can say his property is situated near to the Tarkwa range, whether it be on the east, west, south or north, it will be, in his eves, a great thing to say. He will rely chiefly upon the words 'Tarkwa' and 'banket,' in the full assurance that they will be irresistibly attractive to the public.

Nor will he trouble himself about the title, a matter of supreme importance to the investor. In time to come it will be found that the titles of more than one-third of the companies that have been floated and are still to be floated are not worth the paper on which they are written. This will be the experience of rich and poor companies alike. All titles will have to be certified valid or invalid by the Concessions Court, and heaven only knows when the Court will be able to cope with the increasing work that will be thrust upon it. Prospectuses may state that concessions have been duly registered. But this is likely to be misleading. It applies only to registration of documents, and is no proof whatever of validity of title until the Concessions Court has given its decision. Validity will not be guaranteed by mere registration. The promoters and vendors of bond-fide, respectable companies are fully alive to the risks they run, whilst the shady promoters try to belittle the danger as much as possible. Hence they will insert in their prospectuses a paragraph or two to this effect: 'The following contracts have been entered into: . . . This contract also provides (inter alia) that the vendors shall make out a good title, commencing with the said lease, which shall be assumed to be valid and subsisting, and that no objection shall be taken to the said lease, or the title of the vendors thereto, on the ground that its validity has not been certified under the Concessions Ordinance, 1900, of the Gold Coast Colony, such certificate, if required, to be obtained by and at the expense of the company, and completion of the purchase not to be delayed for the purpose of obtaining such certificate, and that no objection shall be taken in regard to overlapping or infringing concessions, or as to areas or boundaries of the property; and that completion of the purchase shall take place, and the purchase consideration paid and satisfied to the vendors, in London, on the execution by the vendors or other necessary parties, and handing over to this company, of the requisite assignment and other documents for assigning the properties agreed to be sold to the company, notwithstanding that any documents of title may not at that time have been registered in the Gold Coast Colony, and that in the absence of a proper survey the area and boundaries of the scheduled lands, as given in the schedule thereto, and on the plan annexed to the said lease, are only approximate or suppositive; and if any error, misstatement, or omission in the description thereof shall be found, the same shall not annul the contract, nor shall any addition or allowance be made to or from the price in respect of such error, misstatement or omission.' Of course a statement worded in this invariable manner will not be found in every prospectus. But something to a like effect will be found in many, and any such statement should counsel additional caution on the part of a would-be subscriber. I cannot insist too strongly upon the vital importance of title, nor urge the importance of it too earnestly upon the public who may be attracted to West African mining.