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Consular reports, Issues 196-199 online

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(bushels... 9,376,903

' 1 tons 196,200

rbushels... ii'95

* (tons , (say) 1

Present estimate.




717,500 I 265,000 982,500
73 27 I »«»
7, "5,650

312,000 I


, (say) o. 8

Now, if the same practice, and to the same extent, prevails throughout
the colonies, there would seem to be nearly 1,000,000 acres of wheat sown
for hay, and this would increase the consumption for seed to another million
bushels, making a total deficiency of, say, 5,500,000 bushels.

It may be of interest to Americans to learn that the hay grasses usually
grown in the United States do not grow in Australia. There is no red
clover, as there are no bumblebees to fertilize it, and I have not been able

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to find either timothy, red top, or blue grass. Alfalfa, called lucern, does
pretty well when the land is irrigated or naturally damp.

** Wheaten" straw, then, is the most common hay, as far as I am able to

As the acreage in New South Wales has increased 27 per cent- over last
year, as seen by the last table by Mr. Nash, this colony will have the largest
total crop in her history, though the yield will be about 9.9 bushels to the acre.

The wheat crop of Victoria for the last two years has not been above 4^^
bushels per acre, and of South Australia not over 3 bushels. This year will
hardly be better, and I incline to the notion that continual cropping of
wheat in Victoria is permanently reducing her annual yield, as it did in
many of our Western States.

To conclude, the actual deficiency in Australasia and her removal from
the wheat market as a competitor will very materially benefit the United
States, and it is my earnest hope that a goodly share of the benefits may
reach the producing classes.

There have been imported into the colony of New South Wales, chiefly
Sydney, since January i, 1896, 2,336,765 bushels of wheat and 48,851 tons
of flour, of which 1,760,854 bushels of wheat and 24,730 tons of flour came
from the United States.


Sydney, December /, i8g6. Consul,


As a large portion of the colony of Victoria is auriferous country, suit-
able only for mining purposes, the area devoted to agriculture is not as ex-
tensive as the same number of square miles in the agricultural districts in the
United States. Victoria, with a total area of 88,198 square miles, had, in
the season 1894-95, 2,286,433 acres under cultivation, and in 1895-^6,
2,250,484 acres. In each of these seasons, the greater proportion of these
acres was devoted to wheat, which is one of the articles of export, as in
1894-95, 1,373,668 acres were employed for the production of this cereal,
and in 1895-96, 1,408,777 acres; but, although the acreage was larger in
the latter season, the number of bushels of wheat produced was less than one-
half, as can be seen by the following figures: In 1894-95, 11,445,878 bush-
els; 1895-96, 5,656,415 bushels, showing a deficiency of 5,789,463 bushels.
This deficiency, however, has been more than compensated by the additional
price per bushel realized, namely, 4s. 6d. ($1.09), as against is. 7j4d. (39
cents) for the previous season, the sum being — season of 1894-95, ^4,5 19,-
693.08; 1895-96, $6,185,287.98.

The prospects for the coming season are somewhat disappointing, although
it is impossible, at this date, to give more than an approximate estimate of
the yield. It is now considered certain that there will be a deficiency in
this important cereal of 483,750 bushels. This deficit can be accounted for
on account of the weather conditions not being favorable; a dry winter and

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the prevalence of cold winds checked the growth of vegetation of all kinds,
and, at one time, fears of an almost total failure of the crop were enter-
tained, but a fall of rain in September saved the crop and it is now estimated
that the prospects are slightly better than last season, but it is not expected that
Victoria will produce enough wheat for her own requirements. The follow-
ing is an approximate estimate for the season of 1896-97 : Number of acres
under cultivation, 1,490,000 j number of bushels produced, 6,766,250; av-
erage number of bushels per acre, 4.54. The requirements of the colony of
Victoria are 5,750,000 bushels; seed wheat for the coming season, 1,500,000
bushels, which will leave a deficiency of nearly 500,000 bushels.

For the past four or dye years, both the wheat-growing areas and the
harvest yields have shown a gradual falling off in proportion to the popula-
tion. This may be accounted for, first, from the drought that has prevailed
throughout the colony for the past few years, and, second, the low price of
the cereal has not stimulated farmers to increase the acreage. For the
purpose of comparison, I append a table giving the average yield in bushels
and the average number of bushels to the acre.







18^9-90 ' 1,200,000

1B90-9J 1,309,000

1891-^? '





», 395,000
X, 457,000
1896-97 1 x,493,ooo












10. 03


9 44


5. .6



It will be seen that the average for this season will be less, as in certain
districts there is a total failure of the crop, and in others, the crop was only
saved by the opportune fall of rain at the most critical time. In other dis-
tricts, where the farmers took advantage of the irrigation channels, the crops
are really good, and, with the high prices now ruling, will, to a certain extent,
compensate for the low price of the past few years. It is probable that more
attention will be devoted to wheat in the future and more attention will be
paid to irrigation, which will be the means of producing good yields of
wheat even in the dry seasons.

The other cereals raised in this colony are oats, barley, maize, rye, pease,
and beans. I append a table giving the number in bushels of each raised
in the seasons of 1894-95 and 1895-96:


1894-95. I 1895-96. Increase. '• Decrease.






Beans and pease..

Bus he is
5,633,286 I
», 596.463 '

294,555 .
18,378 I

716,193 I

», 880, 045



Bushels. I Bushels.


! 880,871

57,336 j

-..' 9,854

I 4*8,993

Digitized by



It will be seen by the above table that, next to wheat, the oat crop is the
most important cereal produced in this colony, and although the area under
oats this year is greater than last, yet, as will be seen, the yield is much less.
Owing to the favorable conditions of the season, sowing was continued much
later than usual, some of the farmers plowing as late as the middle of August,
but, by that time, the price of seed wheat was high and many farmers put in
oats instead; in some districts, this was the only cereal sown. These late-
sown crops, however, failed completely; they were too short and thin to
harvest and the larger portion was fed to stock. Last year, the area under
oats was 255,503 acres, while this year the estimate is put at 300,000 acres,
but owing to the large number of failures, the average yield is about the
same. Last year, a general average of 12 bushels was obtained, but this
year the average will be less than iiyi bushels to the acre, which will give an
aggregate yield amounting to 3,450,000 bushels. Where irrigation has been
practiced, good returns are promised, but, unfortunately, the area which has
been artificially watered bears only a small proportion of that under crop.
However, a larger area has been watered this year than last, and it is worthy of
note that a greater number of farmers who, last year, were opposed or indiffer-
ent to irrigation, have now become enthusiastic in favor of irrigation legisla-
tion, and if they continue to follow up the practice, the dry season, serious as it
has been, will prove to be a blessing provided it is lasting in its results and a
few years of prosperity do not tempt the farmers to relax their efforts.

The barley crops this season, with a few exceptions, are a pronounced
failure, and it is expected that there will be a greater scarcity of barley than
of any other of the cereals. This may be accounted for from the fact that
there was a much smaller area sown than last year, and as barley can not
stand the effects of drought nearly as well as wheat, were it not for the fa-
vorable season experienced in the coast districts, the average barley yield
would be the smallest on record ; the average sample of grain would be also
very poor. All the grain is very thin, though high enough in color. In the
latter respect only does it come up to the requirements of malsters, who like
a plump grain and will not risk purchasing a thin sample deficient in germi-
nating power. Many of the remarks made in reference to the oat crop
will apply with equal force to barley. Only the early-sown crops will give
payable yields or are likely to produce grain that is suitable for malting pur-
poses. For this reason, malsters will have some difficulty in obtaining a suffi-
cient supply. At all events, it is now pretty certain that farmers who are
fortunate enough to have produced good malting barley this season can rely
upon obtaining a high price for it, as the cost of importing grain from else-
where is considerable. Last season, the area of malting barley under cultiva-
tion was 71, 789 acres, which gave an aggregate yield of 624,388 bushels, or at
the rate of 8.69 bushels to the acre. For this season, the area will not be more
than 60,000 acres and the aggregate yield 450,000 bushels, or an average of
j}^ bushels to the acre, showing a decrease of nearly 200,000 bushels.

Of other than malting barley, the area sown this year was less than
formerly. The area of this class of barley may be reckoned at 7,000 acres.

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yielding, on an average, about 12 bushels to the acre, which gives a total
yield of 84,000 bushels, or about 2,000 bags less than last year. Most of
this is of the Cape variety, which yields heavily.

The area of land devoted to the growth of pease and beans does not vary
much from year to year, though the number of bushels produced varies
greatly. The cultivation of these crops is confined chiefly to the coast dis-
tricts, where the pea crop particularly forms an important part of the rotation
system adopted on nearly all the farms. On volcanic soils especially its fer-
tilizing effect is marked, and it has proved to be an excellent cleaning crop
for weed-infested land, the crop which follows pease, whether it be cereals
or potatoes, being almost invariably good and clean. The rotation of crops
is, therefore, being generally adopted by the farmers of this colony. The
growth of pease is, to a large extent, superseding the bare-fallow system.
In the cool districts, most of the farmers have now recognized the advantage
of cultivating a crop that is profitable in itself and beneficial to the soil.

Beans, however, are not so extensively grown. In fact, far less attention
is given to the cultivation of this crop than it deserves. Last year, the area
under pease and beans is said to have been 32,766 acres, yielding 287,200
bushels, as against 716,193 bushels from 37,045 acres the previous season.
For the present season, the average is about 34,000 acres, and as the crop as
a whole promises well, an average return of about 18 bushels to the acre
may be expected, which will give a gross yield of 612,000 bushels.

I append a table giving the number of acres under cultivation and the
aggregate yield of the crop of oats, barley, pease, and beans.



Barley :



Pease and beans

Area,. Average. Yield.





BusArls. Bushfis.


Although the crop prospects are not as good as in previous years, it is
expected that the high prices which are realized will more than compensate
for the shortness of the crop and that the season, as a whole, will be a profit-
able one for the farmers.

It is too early in the season to give even an approximate estimate of the
maize crop, but the area under cultivation of this cereal is so small that it is
hardly worth considering. The same may be said of the rye crop.

The adjoining colony of New South Wales being practically a free port,
large cargoes of wheat have been imported from the United States; and
under the ruling high prices wheat has reached in Victoria, viz, 6s. (J 1.46)
per bushel, a large quantity of the American wheat found its way to this
market, for which a duty of 2s. iid. (70 cents) per bushel is charged.


Melbourne, December 14^ i8g6. Consul- General,

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The return of the Melbourne branch of the royal mint of England, given
below, has just been issued. It is of much interest in connection with the
gold discoveries in the colony of Western Australia. Almost all the gold
produced in that colony is brought to the Melbourne mint, and a pretty
sure criterion of the progress (or otherwise) of the industry is thus furnished.
For the first nine months of the current year, the Melbourne mint has re-
ceived only 152,259 ounces of gold from Western Australia, against 160,949
ounces last year, a decrease of 8,690 ounces being shown. Taken in con-
junction with the exceedingly unsound boom now in full career at Perth, the
capital of that colony, this falling off is an unhealthy omen. It would be
unfair, however, to be too pronounced until the gold fields are in proper
working order, but there is obviously room for the exercise of a great deal
of caution on the part of investors.

As regards receipts of gold by the mint from other sources, it is very
satisfactory to note that Victoria has, up to the present, supplied 580,330
ounces, against 526,570 ounces for the corresponding period of 1895, ^"^ ^^
the same rate of increase is continued, the production of the colony for 1896
will be about 775,000 ounces. Imports of gold from New Zealand and
Tasmania show large increases, but much less has been received from South
Australia. The total quantity of gold received by the Melbourne mint from
January i to September 30, this year, is 857,641 ounces, against 785,752
ounces for the corresponding period of last year, the increase bein^ 71,889
ounces. The following is a statement of the receipts and issues of gold for
the quarter ended September, 1896 :

Receipts of gold at the Melbourne mint.



First nine

months —






47- 09

557- 26



320. 22



New South Wales

New Zealand

South Australia, including Northern Territory


Western Australia




Transvaal .






5, 394- 04

Light gold coin










The mint has no evidence beyond the statement of the depositor as to
the source of the gold. The above table represents the amounts shown in the

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mint books as having been received during the periods stated. Actual re-
ceipts are shown below :





Gross receipu, according to mint books :

Deduct receipts during last ten days of June, brju^ht to account in
September quarter < 39,494.04

Total 160,164.05

Add receipts during last ten days of Scpiembcr, brousht to account
in December quarter, 1896 | 36,698.19

Quantity actually received in September quarter, i8y6 196,862.24

Quantity actually received in September quarter, 1895 195* 590.3

Ouncfs. OuHces. Ounces.

199,658.09 I 100,983.27 300,641.36

8,960.11 48,454.15

92,033.16 252,187.21


24.54555 61,243.74

116,568.71 I 3« 3. 430.95
99,103.6 I 294,693.9

Of the gold received in September quarter, 1896, 1,803.73 ounces were
reissued for export.

Issues of gold during the quarter.


1 Weight.


Gold coin issued...

300, 283. 42

;Ci, 169,243

i» 178, 745


43i 79^* 5®

Gold bullion issued - -

October 7, i8g6.






Consul- General,


Among the many valuable discoveries of late in the colony of Tasmania,
one which has created much interest in mining circles has recently been
partially developed. It consists of a rare and unique deposit of zircons,
allied with otiier gems and rare earths. The gems found in this deposit are
chiefly zircons, sapphires, and cinnamon rubies. The first named are found
in large quantities and in every variety of color. Many of them have been
cut and polished with very gratifying results, being hard and of good luster.
The specific gravity of the zircon is 4.7, thus being heavier than the dia-
mond, which is 3.75; its hardness, compared with the diamond, is 7, the
latter being 10. At the same time, it is purely incandescent, being unaf-
fected by the most intense heat, thus proving it to be of high commercial
value for use in the manufacture of mantles for incandescent lights. It must
be understood that the product of the gem, viz, oxide of zirconia, is used
for the above purpose, not the gem itself. The composition of the pure
zircon is 64 per cent zirconia and 36 per cent silica. Analyses by Dr.
W. H. Gaze, of Melbourne, of two samples of zircons from the above-
mentioned deposit give 63 per cent and 64 per cent of zirconia, thereby

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testifying as to the purity of the gem. The rarer earths, viz, lanthanium,
thorium, didymium, niobium, erbium, yttrium, cerium, and chromium, are
all more or less present, and will be seen by Dr. Gaze's report to be of high
commercial value.

The property which contains this rare deposit has been purchased by a
Melbourne syndicate. It comprises an area of 105 acres, being 80 acres
reward claim granted by the Government of Tasmania and 25 acres freehold.
It is situated on the northwest coast of Tasmania, about midway between
Emu Bay and Circular Head, and is easily accessible by road from either
port. The property is heavily timbered, among which are trees of unusual
height and girth. There is also permanent water on the ground. A large
amount of work has been clone in cutting races and forming dams for sluic-
ing purposes, much labor being expended in removing the heavy timber from
the creeks.

The deposit of zircons, etc., is found in the bed and sides of the creeks,
covering about a chain in width. It has been tested for over a mile in length.
From about 9 to 18 inches from the surface, a gravelly wash is met with,
averaging about 8 inches in depth. This wash contains the zircons and
other rare earths or minerals, and rests in a blue-clay bed from i to 2 feet
in thickness; then occurs a sandstone bar. The zircons and by-products
are obtained by trummeling and sluicing, the best results being secured by
grading and concentrating by gravitation. About 2 tons of concentrates
have been shipped to Melbourne, from which two parcels have been for-
warded by mail steamer to London, one shipment of 5 cwts. to the com-
pany's agent, and one of 5 cwts. to Germany, through a London house, for
treatment and analysis. The best analysis made here gives the following
results :

Analysis of contents of ore crudely tested.

Per cent.

Tixon 72.5

Black sand containing rare earths 7.5

Sand containing small quantities of rare earths 15

Tailings (worthless) 5

Total 100

The following is a copy of an article dealing with the discovery, pub-
lished in the Australian Mining Standard, of October 8, 1896:

As showing the wealth of Tasmania in various metals, an exhibit by the Shekleton Mining
Syndicate, shown on the window of Mr. L. Beer, of 366 Collins street, Melbourne, is of con-
siderable interest. The exhibit consists of the concentrates in marketable form, cut gems,
and some of the rarer earths. The principal rare earth is zirconia, which is extracted from
the zircons, which have somewhat the appearance of rubies.

Numerous deposits of zircons have been discovered in Europe and America, as well as in
Australasia, but the rarer earths are very infrequently associated with them, as in this instance.
Zirconia, apparently, is the basis of the metals or rare earths used in the manufacture of man-
tles for the incandescent lights, with which are associated the following metals or earths, viz,
thorium, erbium, lanthanium, yttrium, cerium, niobium, didymium, and berillium, in their
respective proportions. According to an analysis made by Dr. W. H. Gaze, of Melbourne,

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the Shekleton Company's deposit of zircons contains uranium, chromium, titanium, niobium,
didymium, lanthanium, thorium, and yttrium, thus making this de{X)sit of more value than
other zircon deposits. The difficulty of obtaining these rarer earths and extracting the metals
from them has made them of very high commercial value. For instance, the pure metal zir-
conium is worth ;fi,ii5 ($5,426.14) per pound troy, while the oxide of zirconia, the first
product from the zircons and from which zirconium is obtained, is only worth 30s. ($7.29) an
ounce. The true zircon contains about 64 per cent of zirconia, and the analysis by Dr. Gaze
states that this deposit is of true zircons. Dr. Gaze has been experimenting to discover a
cheaper method of extraction of zirconia than has hitherto been known, and has been most
successful and probably will eventually lead to the manufacture of the metal in the colonies.

Among the other exhibits will be found a sample of the oxide of zirconia, extracted from
the company's ore by Dr. Gaze.

The property of the company consists of an area of 105 acres, being 25 acres freehold and
80 acres lease (reward claim granted by the Government to Mr. R, L. Skinner, the discoverer
of this rich deposit), and is situated on the northwest coast of Tasmania, about midway be-
tween Emu Bay and Circular Head, and is also convenient to road and post.

The deposit now being worked by the company is the richest and largest of its kind dis-
covered. Mr. Montgomery, the Tasmanian Government geologist, reported on this mine
during the winter of 1895 and was very much impressed, spendjng a whole day fossicking in
the creeks and washed out about 25 pounds* weight of zircons, sapphires, and corundum. Our
museums are indebted for many beautiful specimens of zircons, sapphires, corundum, and
spinel obtained from this property. A great deal of permanent work has been carried out in
the construction of dams and cutting races to conduct the water to the sluice boxes and trum-
mels, the method of treating ihe wash being similar to that used in procuring tin.

As the word zircon conveys little meaning to the general public, perhaps a few words
in reference to it will be apropos. The composition of the zircon, according to Streeter, is
66 per cent of zirconia and 34 per cent of silica. It is a gem of considerable brilliancy and
hardness, and is heavier than a diamond. Its specific gravity is 4.7, as against 3.75 of the
diamond, the hardness is 7 and the diamond is 10. Zircons, after the color has been extracted
by heat, have been used for encrusting the backs of watch cases, and greatly resemble the
diamond, being perfectly white and of good luster. Again, the zircon is purely incandescent,
being, therefore, impervious to heat. This feature makes it of value as jwssessing such a high
percentage of zirconia, which has been already stated as forming the basis of the metals used
in the manufacture of mantles for incandescent lights. Included in the products of this de-

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 196-199 → online text (page 51 of 82)