Albert Frederick Calvert.

Nigeria and its tin fields online

. (page 2 of 11)
Online LibraryAlbert Frederick CalvertNigeria and its tin fields → online text (page 2 of 11)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


network of streams and creeks and inhabited by
numerous pagan tribes addicted to every species of
vile custom, including even cannibalism and human
sacrifices. . . . Above the pagan land i.e. t at the
confluence [of the rivers Niger and Benue] there



NATIVE TIN WASHING n

is a marked change, not only in the type of the
people but also in the nature of the country.
Mohammedan influence commences to show itself,
and low swampy wastes are superseded by rocky
hills or far-extending grassy plains, well studded
with magnificent trees."



NATIVE TIN WASHING

The existence of alluvial tin in these Northern
regions was known for some considerable time,
but until a year or two ago its value as a
commercial asset was not seriously considered.
Rumours of such sources of wealth frequently
reached the Niger Company, and quantities of small
faggots of very pure metal, which occasionally
found their way down to the coast, afforded evidence
that the natives had been working and smelting tin
for a lengthy period. It was subsequently dis-
covered that the procedure adopted by the native
Nigerian tin miners, and described by Mr. Nicolaus,
is as follows :

" The washers, usually working in gangs of
three or four, wade into the river, tributary creeks
and gullies, generally at or near some shallow
rapids, and, loosening the gravel under water with
a short hoe-like implement, scoop it into large



12 NIGERIA AND ITS TIN FIELDS

calabashes about 18 inches to 24 inches in dia-
meter. As soon as sufficient gravel is collected
(about 30 Ibs.), it is washed, and the resulting
rough concentrate placed in a smaller calabash,
6 inches to 8 inches in diameter, and thoroughly
cleansed, nearly all the fine tinstone being lost.
The resulting ' black tin ' containing the equiva-
lent of from 60 to 65 per cent, metal, is sun-dried,
and packed in bags and skins for transport to the
smelting furnaces.

" This ' black tin ' is usually smelted in various
parcels on a royalty basis, exclusively by members
of one family, who hold the process a profound
secret. Only three native smelting furnaces are
in use, and these are each capable of turning out
about 2 cwt. of metal per diem. They are built
of well-puddled clay, and are 3 feet 6 inches in
diameter, and have at the back four tuyere holes
conducting the blast from primitive sheepskin
bellows to the hearth. The tin is reduced by
means of charcoal, and runs through a channel
2 feet 6 inches long and 4 inches broad to a
catch-pot, whence it is ladled by small gourds or
calabashes and poured. The tin is cast in the
form of thin bars of about an eighth of an inch
in diameter and 1 2 inches long, which are pro-
duced by pouring the molten metal on semi-



THE DISCOVERY OF BAUCHI TIN 13

circular banks of clay, 18 inches high, perforated
by dry Guinea corn-halms."



THE DISCOVERY OF BAUCHI TIN

The first actual discovery of tin in the Pro-
tectorate, or the first conclusive evidence of its
actual existence there, has hitherto been 'wrop
in mystery/ but, thanks to the courtesy of
Sir William Wallace, late acting Governor of
Northern Nigeria, I am in a position to dispel
all uncertainty on the subject. In the course of
a letter I received from Sir William, dated 2ist
October 1910, he says : " Up to '84 we used to
believe that the tin used by the Hausa people for
tinning their brass ware was brought across the
desert. I then, being busily engaged opening
up the Benue River to trade, got a hint that the
tin was being smelted in some of the Hausa
States, and, on making inquiries, found that it
was being produced in Bauchi. We did all
possible to develop the trade in the tin straws,
but with little success, as the pagan tribes would
have no dealings with the Hausa merchants,
and rightly so, as it would have only led to the
subjection of the tribes to the Fulani, whom they
kept at bay till our advent in 1902, Early in



14 NIGERIA AND ITS TIN FIELDS

that year I went with the little army as Political
Agent to subdue the Emir of Bauchi, and after
settling that matter I was able to get messen-
gers through to the Delimi River, close to the
Naraguta, from whence they brought about a
quarter of a hundredweight of the tin sands, the
first ever procured or seen by Europeans. This
sample I brought home, and submitted to the
Directors of the Niger Company, who shortly
afterwards took out a prospecting licence over
IOOO square miles. Since then, thanks princi-
pally to Mr. Laws, the mining industry has slowly
forged ahead, until the rush came along this year.
Yea^r in, year out, I have been urging companies
and encouraging prospectors to come along until
I almost despaired of success ; but now, given
a railway to the tin field, the industry cannot
but prosper if the Government do not hamper
it with too many restrictions."

THE NIGER COMPANY'S EXPEDITION

Sir William Wallace's tribute to the work done
by Mr. Laws, the plucky and importunate mining
adviser of the Niger Company, is entirely merited.
The existence of paying tin was regarded with
some scepticism. It has also been surmised that
the officials and civil servants had too comfortable



THE FIRST GEOLOGICAL REPORTS 15

berths to risk the disappointments and discomforts
of prospecting work. Moreover, the Niger Com-
pany was in a flourishing condition, and its
directors were not anxious to launch into mining
enterprises. But Mr. Laws and his assistants
were indefatigable. In 1902 and 1903 three
expeditions were despatched to locate the tin areas.
The little party, under the protection of an armed
escort for at that time the natives, now so
friendly, were somewhat hostile proceeded to
make a geological examination of the country east
of the Niger, and eventually found tin in the
Province of Bauchi, some 600 miles to the north-
east of Lokoja. Further prospecting located the
stanniferous area to the outlines of the Gura
Mountains, a small range known as the Naraguta
and Shere Hills in the Badiko district of that
province.

THE FIRST GEOLOGICAL REPORTS

The geology of the area, as described by Mr.
R. C. Nicolaus, is composed of granites, igneous
intrusions of diabase and porphyry forming the
prominent peaks of the hill range. Near the
river a coarse grey gneiss forms a contact with
the granite, both of which rocks are traversed by
lenticles and gash veins of quartz, and several



1 6 NIGERIA AND ITS TIN FIELDS

small igneous dykes cross diagonally the general
strike of country, which is north-east and dips
west.

Although the stream tin had so far only been
prospected in the neighbourhood of the rivers,
there was abundant evidence to show that the
source of the tin supply came from a stockwork
formation in the granite at the slopes and at the
base of the foot-hills. A somewhat remarkable
feature of this deposit was that a considerable
quantity of metallic tin was discovered under the
river banks during prospecting operations. It
was found in small grains and nodules about the
size of a bean, its surface very thinly coated
with only a trace of iron. It was very ductile,
and emitted, on crushing, the peculiar tin cry.
Its mode of occurrence in the gravels, associated
with coarse grains of stream tin at a depth of
some 1 5 feet under the surface, did not at first
allow its genesis being determinable, but it was
unhesitatingly put down as "native tin" a mineral
up to that time of very rare occurrence.

FIRST SHIPMENT OF TIN

Mr. Laws and his engineers were so well satis-
fied with their work, and the results they produced



FIRST SHIPMENT OF TIN 17

were so encouraging, that the Niger Company
applied in 1905 for a number of mining leases in
selected areas. In spite of slight difficulties aris-
ing from a scarcity of water in the dry season, a
considerable amount of development work was
accomplished, and the company secured an output
of one ton of black tin per diem. These results
proved that the gravels could be worked profitably,
while the geological structure of the country com-
pelled experts to the conclusion that the field
represented by far the most important discovery
of native tin that had been made. Further
examination of the district, which fully confirmed
the expectations raised by the first reports, has
inspired the prediction that this Northern Nigerian
tin field is perhaps the richest in the world.

The Niger Company continued to treat the
alluvial in the old primitive method, which consists
in the main of the use of calabash and sluice
boxes, by which they have, up to the present time,
secured over 1000 tons of black tin. Still, the
mineral resources of the colony were not, until
recently, appreciated in accordance with the
proved facts. Lord Scarborough year after
year had told the British public, in his annual
speech to the shareholders of the Niger Company,
that there was treasure in Northern Nigeria in

B



1 8 NIGERIA AND ITS TIN FIELDS

the shape of alluvial tin. He told them, in March
1907, that during the previous fifteen months
roughly 240 tons of black tin, of the approximate
gross value of ,30,000, had been obtained from one
property, the Naraguta, or an average of 16 tons
a month. He told his shareholders in 1908 that
the Niger Company had won 29,933 worth of
tin for that year. Last year he said : " As
regards tin development, we have brought home
and marketed an increased quantity of ore com-
pared with the previous year." This year the
chairman of the Niger Company declared a 2s.
dividend per share as a result of the sale of a
small portion of their mining lands.



OFFICIAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE
NEW FIELD

The first official recognition of the importance
of the Bauchi tin deposits was conveyed to the
public in the Colonial Report on Northern Nigeria
in 1905, and in 1906 was published the First
Report on the Results of the Mineral Survey of
Northern Nigeria, 1904-5. " The mineral re-
source of Northern Nigeria being virtually un-
known " (to quote the report), " a mineral survey
of the Protectorate to be carried out under the



THE NEW FIELD 19

general supervision of the Director of the Imperial
Institute by surveyors nominated by him, was
proposed by Sir F. Lugard, the High Com-
missioner of Northern Nigeria, and sanctioned by
the Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1904."
It was arranged that the officers of the Survey
should spend about eight months of each year in
Northern Nigeria in exploring the mineral deposits
of selected districts.

In the general introductory summary of the
first report of the surveyors, the prospects of the
tin fields of Northern Nigeria are described with
the customary official reserve. "Tin, in the
form of cassiterite," the report stated, " has now
been found in the stream beds of other districts.
It is probable that as soon as suitable transport
is provided Northern Nigeria will become an
important tin-producing country. Already de-
posits in the Bauchi Province are being worked
by the Niger Company, and the metal smelted on
the spot. The first consignment of tin from the
Protectorate has reached this country."

The prospect presented by this information,
backed up by substantial shipments of tin, might
have been expected to stimulate the curiosity of
both prospectors and capitalists, and that other
Richmonds would have made an appearance in



20 NIGERIA AND ITS TIN FIELDS

the Bauchi field. But any hopes of such a result
were doomed to disappointment. The Niger Com-
pany continued to win mineral, and the Mineral
Survey persisted in their efforts to prove the
extent of country over which the granites were
tin bearing. It is possible that the remoteness
and inaccessibility of the Protectorate operated
unfavourably in the minds of mining adventurers,
and the evil reputation which had been erroneously
given to the country may have moved financiers
to an excess of cautiousness. The colony made
no new friends, and, as will be shown later, it was
not until last year and then only by the accident
of failure in another direction, that capital was
diverted into the new tin field.

TINSTONE CONCENTRATES ANALYSED

Eleven specimens of tinstone concentrates from
the Zagi River, south of Bauchi, from Bula, Tilde,
and the river beyond Joss were forwarded to the
Imperial Institute, and with only one exception
were found upon analysis to contain tin in
quantities of from mere traces up to 80.85 per
cent, of tin oxide, equivalent to 63.5 per cent, of
metallic tin in the concentrate.

The official general remarks on the specimens
analysed were as follows :



TINSTONE ANALYSED 21

" Most of the concentrates were obtained from
the plateaux of Tilde, Rukuba, Joss, and Ngell. On
the first three of these the principal surveyor re-
ports that the Niger Company has prospecting
camps. The finest grained tinstone is found on the
Tilde plateau, the coarser material coming from
Joss and Ngell. The tinstone is said to be irregu-
larly distributed, and adjoining pits may furnish
such different yields as 10 Ibs., or less, and
400 Ibs. per ton on gravel worked. The
average yield at the Rukuba camp is 25 Ibs.
per ton. The present works, it is stated, are
all in the near neighbourhood of the river Delimi,
but it appears that the gravels are more or less
rich in tin over the whole surface of the plateau.
The river-beds in some cases contain valuable
tinstone - bearing gravels, as is shown by the
results of the analysis of the concentrate from
the river-bed at Tilde, which contained 68 per
cent, of tinstone. That from beyond Joss con-
tained only 40 per cent, of tinstone, possibly
owing to the difficulty of separating the ilmenite
from the tinstone by washing. The concentrate
from the Kende River consisted almost entirely
of ilmenite. The presence of the latter mineral
in the stream beds will introduce a difficulty in
the concentration of the tinstone, as it is not



22 NIGERIA AND ITS TIN FIELDS

readily distinguishable by inspection from tin-
stone, and collects with it in the first concen-
tration.

" The results so far obtained show that tin-
stone is widely distributed in the province of
Bauchi in the alluvium of both the high and low
plateaux. As these tinstone districts are in
process of being prospected, it is scarcely worth
while to discuss the commercial value of the tin
concentrates here, but it may be pointed out that
several of these concentrates contain monazite,
and this may be worth recovering. The amount
of monazite present is usually small, and it is
scarcely likely that its recovery under present
circumstances would pay for the working of an
electro-magnetic concentrator, which would be
required to effect its separation. If, however, it
becomes necessary to use such concentrators in
order to separate the ilmenite, which occurs with
the tinstone, then it would probably be worth
while to recover the monazite as a by-product.

" The question of the origin of the tinstone
occurring in this region is of great interest, and
the officers of the Survey propose to devote
further attention to the subject."

The Colonial Report for 1907-8 carried us no
further, as the third Survey party which arrived



THE REPORTS OF EXPERTS 23^

in the country in December 1907 were still upon
their seven months expedition, and the results
of their work had not been received. The report
referred, however, to the fact that the Niger
Company, continuing its work on its licensed
area in the Bauchi Province, were exporting black
tin to the amount of 500 tons per annum, and
added : " The main difficulty in the development
of this promising industry is its situation. With
the construction of the railway through Zaria it
should be possible to place the mines in close
connection with it by means of a road, which
should also serve the Bauchi Province."



THE REPORTS OF EXPERTS

In one of his reports on the Bauchi tin area,
Mr. Lush says :

" There is not the slightest doubt that before
very long many of the deep alluvial flats that
are some distance from the shallow and more
easily worked tin ground will be worked. The
values may turn out to be poorer than the shallow
ground, but the natural facilities are better owing
to the water supply being sufficient for continuous
working without the expense of erection of dams.
On the other hand, when you get out of the



24 NIGERIA AND ITS TIN FIELDS

granite country, the further you are away from
the source of the tin the greater are the im-
purities mixed with it. The numerous creeks,
after passing through the schists and other rocks
emptying into the main river, all tend to this, and
titanic iron, tourmaline, rutile, and gem sand
form a large percentage of the concentrates.
However, if on boring, the deep ground turns
out payable, there should be no difficulty in
getting rid of the impurities and dressing the tin
up to 70 per cent."

Mr. L. H. L. Huddart, writing on this subject
in his report on the South Juga property,
says :

" Sources of the Tin. The black tin is probably
derived from the granite of which it is a rock
constituent, and from stockworks in the granite
quartz porphyry occurs very similar to the
'elvans' in Cornwall.

" Nature of the Wash. In the upper end the
wash is a fine whitish granite, containing no large
pebbles or boulders, and is near the original
source of some of the Juga tin. The surface is
slightly cemented with iron oxides in which
cassiterite often grows. The whole wash very
easily breaks down with water. The ground
further down the property is similar except that



THE REPORTS OF EXPERTS 25

the alluvial has travelled further, and consequently
has been sorted to a greater extent.

" Taken generally, the tin bearing is the pro-
duct of denudation from the granite of which the
bed-rock, and sides of the valley are composed.
The tin occurs in the wash right up against the
granite on both sides of the valley. The topaz
is abundant in the wash, and with some zircon
and rootile is almost the only mineral besides
cassiterite occurring in the concentrates."

In his report on the Kurdum River Tin Con-
cession, Mr. Huddart says :

" Geology. The base rock is a foliated gneiss
and schist ; the great granite massif forming the
Jarawa Hills lies to the west of the property.
There is a good deal of granite on the pro-
perty, with some dolerite. The rocks are compact,
and show considerable signs of regional meta-
morphism.

" Source of the Tin. The tin has been carried
down from the rich placers at the head water of
the Kurdum River, and form feeders that come
in above the property from the Jarawa and
Fuersum country. In one or two places the
natives work the river-bed, an indication in itself
of high value, as it does not pay them to work
any but rich gravel. The alluvial ground is a



26 NIGERIA AND ITS TIN FIELDS

quartz gravel with sand near the top. There is
very little clay, and long boulders are unlikely,
and the wash is friable and easy to work. The
river-bed gravel where coarse is very rich.

" Concentrates. These contain usually minerals
such as ilmenite, rootile, zircon, and some topaz
and garnet. The tin is of good quality, and
varies in colour from black to ruby and pale
yellow. A little monazite is found, and an
occasional colour of gold. There should be no
difficulty in shipping concentrates that will assay
71 or 72 per cent, metallic tin. The tinstone
is of a good average size for saving in the sluice
boxes which can be given a good grade."



FRESH DISCOVERIES ANNOUNCED

The Government Report on Northern Nigeria
for 19089 contained the announcement that
tin in paying quantities had been located in the
Provinces of Bauchi, Nassarawa, and on the
Kobba-Ilorin border, and this information has since
been supplemented by the Akerri (Nigeria) Tin
Company Ltd., which has taken up a tin area in
an entirely fresh district, one day's journey west
of Zungeru, and one and a half day's journey
north-east of Jebba.



CONFIDENCE IN THE FIELD 27

Meanwhile, in a White Paper on " Nigeria,
September 1910," issued in the following month
of October, we get an official reference to the
new tin industry :

" Mr. Parkinson states that in the Oban Hills,
Southern Nigeria, there are tourmaline pegmatites,
and Schmeisser has recorded that since the
discovery of an apparently rich tin deposit near
Banyo, there has been much prospecting for that
mineral in the Cameroons. Surface tin is found
in Northern Nigeria by the natives, and sold,
chiefly to the Niger Company, but mines on a
large scale have not as yet been worked. The
geological surveyors sent out by the Imperial
Institute have detected the presence of alluvial
tin in many sand and river gravels. At Uwet, in
Old Calabar, Mr. Parkinson reports the occurrence
of tinstone during the year 1906, and of the
washed samples 80 per cent, was tinstone, and
the remainder was garnet, tourmaline, quartz, and
columbite."



CONFIDENCE IN THE FIELD
ESTABLISHED

The Bauchi tin won by the Niger Company is
of rich quality, and commands a considerably



28 NIGERIA AND ITS TIN FIELDS

higher price than ordinary English tin ; but while
Lord Scarborough persistently told the public of
the results of their operations, mining was
not energetically proceeded with, and as has
been said the new field attracted less attention
than it deserved. But as prospecting work in
the district became more general, it was realised
from the virgin nature of the area, the cheapness
and abundance of labour available in the district,
and the enormous extent of the surface deposits,
that the regions were extremely valuable and
presented potentialities of great and continuous
profits. In the face of this later information the
first feeling of scepticism with which the discovery
was received passed away, doubt yielded to
confidence, and it was soon known that some of
the most astute and influential groups in the
City were interested in the exploitation of the
new field.

But although the future of the Bauchi tin
district was assured, it was necessary for some
one to be first in the systematic development of
the new field. Every report emanating from the
colony confirmed the story of the richness of
Nigerian tin, and a Royal Colonial Institute
address had admitted that " if the professional
reports were anything like approximately correct



PIONEERS OF NIGERIAN TIN 29

and the supply is regulated, a fabulous amount of
wealth is waiting to be extracted/' but the oppor-
tunity to make fortunes out of Northern Nigeria
was neglected until the Champion Gold Reefs
of West Africa, Ltd., who had abandoned their
gold property on the Gold Coast, boldly threw
their remaining capital of 12,000 into the new
field.

THE PIONEERS OF NORTHERN
NIGERIAN TIN

The credit, therefore, for placing the Nigerian
tin fields before the British investor is due to
Messrs. Walter and Oliver Wethered, and Mr.
S. R. Bastard. It was Mr. Walter Wethered, being
impressed by the large quantities of metal which
were being brought down by the natives and
sold to the Niger Company, who formed the
opinion that these fields might be suitable for
working on a large scale. Having satisfied
himself on this point he was able to induce Mr.
Bastard, and his brother, Mr. Oliver Wethered, to
join in the business, and as a result the Champion
Gold Reefs of West Africa, Ltd., of which Mr.
Bastard was Chairman, decided in the month of
September 1909 to embark its remaining capital
and all its energies in the exploitation of the new



30 NIGERIA AND ITS TIN FIELDS

Nigerian tin field. In October the first members
of their staff were sent out to the properties they
had already secured, to be followed on 3rd
November by Mr. C. G. Lush, the well-known
tin expert, who was to advise them as to the best
method of developing their properties. Every-
thing that happened satisfied this pioneer group of
the value of the field, and they formed the Tin
Fields of Northern Nigeria, Ltd., which was
registered on 7th October 1909, with a capital
of 100,000. Mr. Bastard became chairman of
this company.

The Nigerian Tin Corporation, Ltd., was regis-
tered on 1 4th October 1909, with a capital
of 100,000. On this occasion Mr. Oliver
Wethered took the chairmanship. No further
company was floated during the year 1909, but
on i 5th January 1910 this same group issued the
Naraguta (Nigeria) Tin Mines, Ltd., with a capital
of 175,000. This company has already, in the
few months it has been working, recovered over
300 tons of tin, and has declared its first
dividend. The next venture to be floated by the
Champion Gold Reefs company was the Northern


2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Online LibraryAlbert Frederick CalvertNigeria and its tin fields → online text (page 2 of 11)