EL DORADO GOLD
In a historical review of the El Dorado field, the point needs to be made that its deep mining attracted a better class of miner than in the Gold rush areas further up the creek. For example, in those first years there is no record of murder at El Dorado.
Higher along the creek, no less than 15 murders are documented during the initial six months.
The Gold Rush at Beechworth and down into the Woolshed Valley was for surface alluvial gold which could be accessed at the surface of the river bed. Thus very few tools were necessary, and therefore anybody could dig for gold.
But El Dorado was situated at the end of the valley where the gold was far deeper, up to 100 metres, and expensive machinery was needed to gain access to the gold. There was never a mad rush to El Dorado, as this new mining locality meant working for wages in the deep mines, in a regular and stable manner.
GOLD FIGURES SENT BY ESCORT FROM
THE BEECHWORTH AND OVENS GOLD FIELDS
1852 27,966 oz 1858 245,291oz
1853 198,436oz 1859 284,017oz
1854 138,588oz 1860 286,616oz
1855 192,027oz 1861 244,056oz
1856 342,828oz 1862 167,137oz
The Prodution Records of El Dorado's two largest mines (open cut sluicing) of the 20th Century show the following total production
COCKS PIONEER GOLD AND TIN MINES N.L.
From 1901 until 1941,
Total Gold 117,378ounces
Total Tin Concetrates, 1,673tons
COCKS EL DORADO GOLD DREDGING COMPANY
From 1936 until 1955
Total Gold 70,664ounces
Total Tin Concentrates, 1,356tons
THE MINING COMPANIES
The Kneebone Gold & Tin Mining Co, 1858 to 1872
The McEvoy Company, 1859 to 1879, 1890 to 1901
Mining Disaster, July 1895.
The Wellington Gold & Tin Mining Company, 1860 to 1877
The Great Extended Gold & Tin Mining Company, 1868 to 1870
The Golden Lake Gold & Tin Mining Company, 1868 to 1870
The Ovens Gold & Tin Mining Company, 1867 to 1878
The Try Again Gold & Tin Mining Company, 1883 to 1885
Eldorado Gold & Tin Mining Company, 1888 to 1895
OPEN CUT SLUICING COMPANIES
Cocks Pioneer Electric Gold & Tin Sluicing Company, 1898 to 1941
Cocks El Dorado Gold Dredging Company, 1935 to 1954
OPEN CUT SLUICING
The principal of centrifugal sand pump system, known as hydraulic sluicing, is in its simplest terms is one where a high powered nozzle of water washes the dirt within an open cut to a lower point. A gravel pump draws up the water and solids and elevates it to sluice boxes, set out with a ripple system which catches the gold and tin because both are heavy materials. The tailings of the sluice boxes are brought together and a further gravel pump elevates this residue to a tailings dump, which is built on the downstream side of the workings.
COCKS EL DORADO GOLD DREDGE
The Gold Dredge commenced in 1936 and ceased operations in 1954. In total it produced 70,664 ounces of gold and 1,383 tons of tin concentrate. The dredge has remained tied up at ElDorado since it closed in 1954.
This was the largest dredge in the Southern Hemisphere. The dredge was a floating object with a weight of 2142 tons. Power for the whole electrical equipment of the dredge was supplied by the State Electricity Commission. El Dorado used so much electricity, that only two towns in all of Victoria pulled more electricity, they were Melbourne and Geelong.
The digging buckets travel around a top pivoted steel ladder with a weight of 163 tons. Moving around the digging ladder are approximately 110 buckets each weighing 1.6 tons. The buckets pass a given point at the rate of 21 per minute. The buckets lift the materials to the top tumbler, discharging their contents which pass via a chute to a trommel screen 14.6 metres in length and 2.7 metres in diameter. The gold and tin is so small or fine that it passes through the holes in the screen, whilst the larger gravel and clay is spiralled through the screen and is tailed off to the pond at the rear of the dredge.
The gold and tin are concentrated by the action of gravity fed pulsating jigs, located towards the rear of the main floor. The valueless tailings from these jigs are discharged to the pond by sand chutes.
1 Bucket Ladder
2 Bucket ladder moved by elaborate set of pulleys and cables
3 A 160 horse power winch to raise and lower the bucket ladder.
4 Small jib crane (with lattce work) used to remove and replace buckets.
5 Original motor was 300 horse power. Used to move the bucket chain.
6 Large rotary screen.
7 Various jigs (agitators).
8 Course gravel and stones were caught in the rotary screen, (6), passed into the lower semi circular stone chute(8), and discharged from the stern.
9 Poor grade material was ejected via the upper semi circular chute.
10 The waste material from the primary jigs was discharged as a slurry into open troughs or launders running down each side of the dredge and protruding from the stern.
11 Fine waste from the jigs was pumped through a long pipe suspended from the stern on a lattice frame, and discharged on top of the course gravel and stones.
12 This small tin shed was the "Dunny" or toilet.
13 Overhead travelling crane, used to lift heavy equipment on and off the dredge.
14 The control room.
15 The elaborate system of electrical switches and meters which controlled the various motors.
16 This area has mechanical levers which controlled winches, which in turn controlled all movement of the dredge.
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