But a great number of companies have been formed, which have issued no prospectus, and I think, perhaps, on the whole it would be advisable to avoid these, for though we may miss many good things, we shall likewise miss many insidious snares, from which the good things may be impotent to save us. The great majority of those already formed are promoting companies, parent companies, share-dealing companies, finance companies, whose only business will be to gamble and speculate on the Stock Exchange. These parent companies are formed, as a rule, with very small capitals. They take up a certain area of ground, and divide it into several parts. Then one of these parts is sold to a subsidiary company for a big sum, and later, again, the subsidiary company divides the portion it has purchased, and sells these portions to other subsidiary companies at far higher prices than they paid for them. There has been no development or mining work done. These companies have made their profits out of promotion, and others must do the mining work, provided there is gold sufficient to encourage them to undertake it. If this kind of thing is going to do any good for anybody but promoters, then I cannot conceive how it can. It would be far better to give the money away in charity. It has been done time after time on the discovery of other gold-fields, and those gold-fields have suffered in the long-run. West Australia, Klondyke, and Tasmania are now suffering from similar abuses. After being defrauded in this manner, it is only natural that the public should refuse to put their money into such gold-fields again, and thus the good mines suffer along with the bad.
As it is impossible yet to judge of the prospects of the majority of the companies that have already been formed, I can only give some brief particulars of one or two of those that are likely to meet with a large measure of success. In the front rank of these is, of course, the Wassau Company. Although we have heard a great deal of this mine of late and its prospects, it has been in existence for several years. It was formed in 1882 to acquire the Adjah Bippo property, in the Tarkwa district, the purchase consideration being £75,000, payable in 33,300 fully-paid shares and £41,700 in cash. In 1894 the adjoining Cinnamon Bippo property, of 820 acres, was purchased. Under agreements made with the Consolidated Gold-fields of South Africa and the South African Gold Trust, the Gold Coast Agency, Limited, is proving certain portions of the reef-bearing area by boreholes, with the object of forming subsidiary companies. In No. 1 borehole the reef was struck at a depth of 773 feet, where it was 43 inches thick, and of a value of 22 dwt. per ton. This was on the Adjah Bippo property. Borehole No. 2, or B, was sunk on the Cinnamon Bippo, where it struck the reef at a depth of 662 feet, the assay value being still 22 dwt.
About 500 feet north of borehole B borehole C was sunk, and cut a banket reef about 18 inches thick, giving 24 dwt. to the ton, at the shallow depth of 234 feet. The present capital of the company is £260,000 in £1 shares, of which 199,150 shares have been issued. The company did not pay its first dividend until 1897, when it distributed 1s. per share. During 1896 4,027 tons yielded 6,959 oz. of gold, giving an average of 1 oz. 14 1/2 dwt. to the ton. In 1897 5,799 tons yielded 7,255 oz. In 1898 the battery was at work only ten months, during which time it crushed 4,162 tons, for a yield of 4,626 oz. Crushing was suspended in November of that year, and a new incline shaft is now being sunk and new machinery erected. The only dividend paid by the company has been the 1s. above mentioned. Its prospects now are far more promising than they have ever been, and though the price of the shares will be certain to appreciate considerably in the early future, investors must be cautious not to buy them at inflated prices. The value of the gold it has produced up to the present is £177,819. The agreement entered into with the Gold Coast Agency was with a view of developing at a more rapid rate and more effectively than it had the means of doing itself its ground west of the outcrop. Prior to about the middle of 1900 the area owned by the company was a total equivalent to some 2,200 claims west of the outcrop, and a large area of 6,000 by 12,000 feet to the east of the outcrop. The Gold Coast Agency was formed to go shares with the Wassau in dealing with, approximately, 2,000 claims of other outcrop and deep-level ground.
The Gold Coast Agency, as I have said, has been formed with the object of developing gold-mining properties in the Wassau banket series. The Wassau Company, with whom it is working, reserves to itself the rights to about 165 claims, having about 4,500 feet on the outcrop. The rest of its property, consisting of about 2,000 claims, have been handed over to the Gold Coast for exploring and floating into subsidiary companies. The Wassau Company also reserves the right to subscribe for half the working capital of such subsidiary companies, the Agency finding the other half. The Agency also acquires an interest on identical lines in about 900 claims, containing a run of 18,000 feet on the outcrop on the banket reef, through the areas owned by the Pioneer Syndicate, which was formed to allocate the interests of the Fanti Consolidated Mines, Limited, and the Amalgamated Mines, Limited, in these claims, situated on each side of the Wassau Company's property. These shares have stood at as much as 58 per cent. premium. The capital of the company has hitherto been only £50,000, in £1 shares, but at a recent meeting of the company it was decided to increase the capital, consequent on the assured prospects of the company, to £600,000, 500,000 shares of which will be applied to giving ten new shares for each old share, and of the 100,000 shares remaining for future issue 50,000 were to be offered for subscription at l 1/2 premium.