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Blackwater Mine, Reefton, Buller District, West Coast Region, South Island, New Zealandi
Regional Level Types
Blackwater MineMine
Reefton- not defined -
Buller DistrictDistrict
West Coast RegionRegion
South IslandIsland
New ZealandCountry

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 42° 17' 35'' South , 171° 49' 13'' East
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): -42.29329,171.82041
GeoHash:G#: rb6pmuez9
Locality type:Mine
Köppen climate type:Cfb : Temperate oceanic climate
Nearest Settlements:
PlacePopulationDistance
Reefton980 (2011)20.0km
Blackball321 (2011)34.2km
Gloriavale Christian Church570 (2017)36.0km
Barrytown225 (2012)40.3km
Other/historical names associated with this locality:Waiuta


The largest producing gold mine in the Reefton goldfield. Operational from 1906 to 1951.

This was one of the last major gold discoveries in the Westland region, when four prospectors in 1905 discovered the Birthday Reef. They were resting at the site for lunch, when Jimmy Martin dug his heel aimlessly into the dirt, discovering gold. The party also consisted on Ernest Bannan, Bill Meats, and Dave Ross. The reef was discovered on the same date as King Edward V11 birthday (09 November), so was called the Birthday Reef. The site of the discovery is marked with a plaque, a short distance north-east from the Blackwater Shaft.

Over the next 45 years the mine yielded 732 907 ounces of gold, second only to the Martha Mine for New Zealand. Mining was initially from the Blackwater Shaft, now a fenced off section in the middle of the Waiuta ghost-town, then switched to the Prohibition Shaft further up the hill in 1936, closing in 1951 when part of the shaft collapsed on the ninth of July. The shaft was New Zealand's deepest at 879 metres. The mine produced one third of all gold attained on the Reefton field.

The prospectors sold the lease for only 2000 pounds to Percy Kingswell. This Reefton syndicate lasted less than a year, before selling the lease to the British owned Consolidated Goldfields (NZ) Ltd for 30 000 pounds, who formed a subsidiary company to develop the mine called Blackwater Mines Ltd.

The Birthday Reef extends for 1000 metres north north-east from the elevated Prohibition Shaft in the north, through the Waiuta town site, to the Snowy Battery in the south, on the Snowy River. Initially ore was carted to the battery by a tramway, then an aerial ropeway, until in 1938 the Snowy Battery was replaced by a ball mill at the Prohibition Shaft itself.

The Birthday Reef is found in an area of Greenland Group rocks, overlain by fluvioglacial deposits, and recent colluvium and alluvium. The Greenland Group consists of an interbedded sequence of massive jointed quartzose greywacke (quartz, feldspar with minor biotite, chlorite, epidote and calcite), and fine grained dark greenish grey argillite (phyllosillicates, with minor amphibolite, quartz, feldspar). There are also three narrow dolerite dykes in the area, ophitic textured, consisting of augite, andesine, and labradorite, as part of the Kirwans Intrusive suite.

The Birthday Reef is an orogenic mesothermal quartz vein hosted gold deposit.

The Birthday Reef is hosted by the western limb of a major syncline, proximal to the hinge. The reef strikes north north-east, dips steeply north-west, plunges 40 degrees north-east, is 0.2-2.5 metres thick, averaging 0.65 metres thick. The reef is dislocated by a series of faults, its northern limit ending in the Prohibition Fault Zone, its southern limit also cut off by a major fault.

The Hanging Wall is brecciated, while the Footwall is massive quartz. Quartz in the reef comes as milky white with free gold, and no sulphides, or darker blue-grey laminated quartz, with ribbons of country rock, high gold values, and abundant sulphides. Ore was found in five main ore shoots, in a single quartz vein (Birthday Reef).

Native gold accounts to 70-80% of gold found, only occasionally visible, with the remainder locked in pyrite, and arsenopyrite. Minor stibnite, and rare chalcopyrite and molybdenite is also found. Minor calcite is also found in the reef. Marcasite is included within pyrite grains.

After the mine closed, the lease went through several ownership changes consisting of Blackwater Gold (Waiuta Ltd) 1969, Carpentaria Exploration Company Pty Ltd on option from Blackwater Gold 1975, CRA Exploration 1980's, Golden Shamrock as a joint venture with CRA 1989, Macraes Mining Company Ltd 1991, Gold and Resource Development (New Zealand) Ltd 1999, GRD Macraes 2000, and then OceanaGold in 2004.

Several of these companies attempted to estimate a resource left under the old workings at the 16th level, with little success. A detailed pre-feasibility study commissioned by OceanaGold in 2014, came to the same conclusion. The reef is narrow, but high grade, with the surrounding greywacke barren. The depth of the geology, lack of geological investigations when the mine was active, limited width of the reef, and surrounding historical features needing protection, and a resulting long decline, all led to the blunt conclusion in the report that mining should not proceed. It is hoped this ends possible mining, and the site is retained for tourism purposes.

The site contains several buildings, and the Blackwater Shaft, marked with information signs. The Snowy Battery can be reached by a 30 minute steep walk. The Prohibition Shaft, and ball mill remnants can be driven to, with impressive views from the location.

Waiuta can be reached by travelling 21 kilometres south of Reefton on State Highway 7, and turning onto Waiuta Road. The road becomes narrow and gravel as it climbs onto the plateau, but can be negotiated by two wheel drive vechiles with care. Pick a sunny day in winter, and you are likely to have the place to yourself.

Regions containing this locality

Australian Plate (Australia Plate)Tectonic Plate

Select Mineral List Type

Standard Detailed Strunz Dana Chemical Elements

Mineral List


22 valid minerals.

Detailed Mineral List:

Ankerite
Formula: Ca(Fe2+,Mg)(CO3)2
Arsenolite
Formula: As2O3
Arsenopyrite
Formula: FeAsS
Calcite
Formula: CaCO3
Chalcocite
Formula: Cu2S
Chalcopyrite
Formula: CuFeS2
'Chlorite Group'
Dolomite
Formula: CaMg(CO3)2
Galena
Formula: PbS
Gold
Formula: Au
'K Feldspar'
Magnesite
Formula: MgCO3
Magnesite var: Ferroan Magnesite
Formula: (Mg,Fe)CO3
Marcasite
Formula: FeS2
Molybdenite
Formula: MoS2
Muscovite
Formula: KAl2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2
Muscovite var: Sericite
Formula: KAl2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2
Pyrite
Formula: FeS2
Pyrrhotite
Formula: Fe7S8
Quartz
Formula: SiO2
Rutile
Formula: TiO2
Scorodite
Formula: Fe3+AsO4 · 2H2O
Siderite
Formula: FeCO3
Siderite var: Mg-rich Siderite
Formula: (Fe,Mg)CO3
Sphalerite
Formula: ZnS
Stibnite
Formula: Sb2S3
Vivianite
Formula: Fe2+3(PO4)2 · 8H2O

List of minerals arranged by Strunz 10th Edition classification

Group 1 - Elements
Gold1.AA.05Au
Group 2 - Sulphides and Sulfosalts
Arsenopyrite2.EB.20FeAsS
Chalcocite2.BA.05Cu2S
Chalcopyrite2.CB.10aCuFeS2
Galena2.CD.10PbS
Marcasite2.EB.10aFeS2
Molybdenite2.EA.30MoS2
Pyrite2.EB.05aFeS2
Pyrrhotite2.CC.10Fe7S8
Sphalerite2.CB.05aZnS
Stibnite2.DB.05Sb2S3
Group 4 - Oxides and Hydroxides
Arsenolite4.CB.50As2O3
Quartz4.DA.05SiO2
Rutile4.DB.05TiO2
Group 5 - Nitrates and Carbonates
Ankerite5.AB.10Ca(Fe2+,Mg)(CO3)2
Calcite5.AB.05CaCO3
Dolomite5.AB.10CaMg(CO3)2
Magnesite5.AB.05MgCO3
var: Ferroan Magnesite5.AB.05(Mg,Fe)CO3
Siderite5.AB.05FeCO3
var: Mg-rich Siderite5.AB.05(Fe,Mg)CO3
Group 8 - Phosphates, Arsenates and Vanadates
Scorodite8.CD.10Fe3+AsO4 · 2H2O
Vivianite8.CE.40Fe2+3(PO4)2 · 8H2O
Group 9 - Silicates
Muscovite9.EC.15KAl2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2
var: Sericite9.EC.15KAl2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2
Unclassified Minerals, Rocks, etc.
'Chlorite Group'-
'K Feldspar'-

List of minerals arranged by Dana 8th Edition classification

Group 1 - NATIVE ELEMENTS AND ALLOYS
Metals, other than the Platinum Group
Gold1.1.1.1Au
Group 2 - SULFIDES
AmBnXp, with (m+n):p = 2:1
Chalcocite2.4.7.1Cu2S
AmXp, with m:p = 1:1
Galena2.8.1.1PbS
Pyrrhotite2.8.10.1Fe7S8
Sphalerite2.8.2.1ZnS
AmBnXp, with (m+n):p = 1:1
Chalcopyrite2.9.1.1CuFeS2
AmBnXp, with (m+n):p = 2:3
Stibnite2.11.2.1Sb2S3
AmBnXp, with (m+n):p = 1:2
Arsenopyrite2.12.4.1FeAsS
Marcasite2.12.2.1FeS2
Molybdenite2.12.10.1MoS2
Pyrite2.12.1.1FeS2
Group 4 - SIMPLE OXIDES
A2X3
Arsenolite4.3.9.1As2O3
AX2
Rutile4.4.1.1TiO2
Group 14 - ANHYDROUS NORMAL CARBONATES
A(XO3)
Calcite14.1.1.1CaCO3
Magnesite14.1.1.2MgCO3
Siderite14.1.1.3FeCO3
AB(XO3)2
Ankerite14.2.1.2Ca(Fe2+,Mg)(CO3)2
Dolomite14.2.1.1CaMg(CO3)2
Group 40 - HYDRATED NORMAL PHOSPHATES,ARSENATES AND VANADATES
A3(XO4)2·xH2O
Vivianite40.3.6.1Fe2+3(PO4)2 · 8H2O
(AB)5(XO4)2·xH2O
Scorodite40.4.1.3Fe3+AsO4 · 2H2O
Group 71 - PHYLLOSILICATES Sheets of Six-Membered Rings
Sheets of 6-membered rings with 2:1 layers
Muscovite71.2.2a.1KAl2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2
Group 75 - TECTOSILICATES Si Tetrahedral Frameworks
Si Tetrahedral Frameworks - SiO2 with [4] coordinated Si
Quartz75.1.3.1SiO2
Unclassified Minerals, Mixtures, etc.
'Chlorite Group'-
'K Feldspar'-
Magnesite
var: Ferroan Magnesite
-(Mg,Fe)CO3
Muscovite
var: Sericite
-KAl2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2
Siderite
var: Mg-rich Siderite
-(Fe,Mg)CO3

List of minerals for each chemical element

HHydrogen
H ScoroditeFe3+AsO4 · 2H2O
H VivianiteFe32+(PO4)2 · 8H2O
H Muscovite (var: Sericite)KAl2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2
H MuscoviteKAl2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2
CCarbon
C AnkeriteCa(Fe2+,Mg)(CO3)2
C Siderite (var: Mg-rich Siderite)(Fe,Mg)CO3
C DolomiteCaMg(CO3)2
C Magnesite (var: Ferroan Magnesite)(Mg,Fe)CO3
C SideriteFeCO3
C MagnesiteMgCO3
C CalciteCaCO3
OOxygen
O ArsenoliteAs2O3
O ScoroditeFe3+AsO4 · 2H2O
O AnkeriteCa(Fe2+,Mg)(CO3)2
O QuartzSiO2
O VivianiteFe32+(PO4)2 · 8H2O
O Siderite (var: Mg-rich Siderite)(Fe,Mg)CO3
O DolomiteCaMg(CO3)2
O Magnesite (var: Ferroan Magnesite)(Mg,Fe)CO3
O SideriteFeCO3
O MagnesiteMgCO3
O Muscovite (var: Sericite)KAl2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2
O CalciteCaCO3
O RutileTiO2
O MuscoviteKAl2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2
MgMagnesium
Mg AnkeriteCa(Fe2+,Mg)(CO3)2
Mg Siderite (var: Mg-rich Siderite)(Fe,Mg)CO3
Mg DolomiteCaMg(CO3)2
Mg Magnesite (var: Ferroan Magnesite)(Mg,Fe)CO3
Mg MagnesiteMgCO3
AlAluminium
Al Muscovite (var: Sericite)KAl2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2
Al MuscoviteKAl2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2
SiSilicon
Si QuartzSiO2
Si Muscovite (var: Sericite)KAl2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2
Si MuscoviteKAl2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2
PPhosphorus
P VivianiteFe32+(PO4)2 · 8H2O
SSulfur
S ArsenopyriteFeAsS
S PyriteFeS2
S MolybdeniteMoS2
S ChalcopyriteCuFeS2
S SphaleriteZnS
S GalenaPbS
S StibniteSb2S3
S MarcasiteFeS2
S ChalcociteCu2S
S PyrrhotiteFe7S8
KPotassium
K Muscovite (var: Sericite)KAl2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2
K MuscoviteKAl2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2
CaCalcium
Ca AnkeriteCa(Fe2+,Mg)(CO3)2
Ca DolomiteCaMg(CO3)2
Ca CalciteCaCO3
TiTitanium
Ti RutileTiO2
FeIron
Fe ArsenopyriteFeAsS
Fe ScoroditeFe3+AsO4 · 2H2O
Fe AnkeriteCa(Fe2+,Mg)(CO3)2
Fe PyriteFeS2
Fe VivianiteFe32+(PO4)2 · 8H2O
Fe Siderite (var: Mg-rich Siderite)(Fe,Mg)CO3
Fe Magnesite (var: Ferroan Magnesite)(Mg,Fe)CO3
Fe ChalcopyriteCuFeS2
Fe SideriteFeCO3
Fe MarcasiteFeS2
Fe PyrrhotiteFe7S8
CuCopper
Cu ChalcopyriteCuFeS2
Cu ChalcociteCu2S
ZnZinc
Zn SphaleriteZnS
AsArsenic
As ArsenopyriteFeAsS
As ArsenoliteAs2O3
As ScoroditeFe3+AsO4 · 2H2O
MoMolybdenum
Mo MolybdeniteMoS2
SbAntimony
Sb StibniteSb2S3
AuGold
Au GoldAu
PbLead
Pb GalenaPbS

Regional Geology

This geological map and associated information on rock units at or nearby to the coordinates given for this locality is based on relatively small scale geological maps provided by various national Geological Surveys. This does not necessarily represent the complete geology at this locality but it gives a background for the region in which it is found.

Click on geological units on the map for more information. Click here to view full-screen map on Macrostrat.org

Quaternary
0 - 2.588 Ma



ID: 3186280
Cenozoic sedimentary rocks

Age: Pleistocene (0 - 2.588 Ma)

Comments: surficial deposits

Lithology: Unconsolidated sand, gravel and mud

Reference: Chorlton, L.B. Generalized geology of the world: bedrock domains and major faults in GIS format: a small-scale world geology map with an extended geological attribute database. doi: 10.4095/223767. Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 5529. [154]

Middle Pleistocene
0.126 - 0.781 Ma



ID: 1358378
OIS10 (Middle Pleistocene) glacier deposits

Age: Pleistocene (0.126 - 0.781 Ma)

Description: Till containing weathered clasts.

Comments: Middle Pleistocene glacier deposits. Age based on Based on stratigraphic age range

Lithology: Major:: {gravel},Minor:: {sand, silt}

Reference: Heron, D.W. . Geology Map of New Zealand 1:250 000. GNS Science Geological Map 1. [13]

Ordovician - Late Cambrian
443.8 - 501 Ma



ID: 1312947
Greenland Group metasedimentary rocks

Age: Paleozoic (443.8 - 501 Ma)

Stratigraphic Name: Greenland Group

Description: Quartzose metasandstone and metamudstone, hornfelsed near plutons and locally schistose.

Comments: Western Province (Buller Terrane) Rocks

Lithology: Sandstone, mudstone, schist

Reference: Edbrooke, S.W., Heron, D.W., Forsyth, P.J., Jongens, R. (compilers). Geology Map of New Zealand 1:1 000 000. GNS Science Geological Map 2. [12]

Data and map coding provided by Macrostrat.org, used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License

References

Sort by

Year (asc) Year (desc) Author (A-Z) Author (Z-A)
Railton, G.L., Watters, W.A. (1990) Minerals of New Zealand, New Zealand Geological Survey Bulletin No. 104.
Friends of Waiuta (2007) Waiuta. Victoria Forest Park (information brochure).
Reefton Visitor Information I-Site and Museum.
Waiuta Site Information Signs.
OceanaGold (2013) OceanaGold Announces Further Drill Results and Updated Resource from the Blackwater High Grade Gold Project (media release), 12 April 2013.
Griffiths, S., Smith, M., Moore, J., Hughes, T. (2014) Preliminary Economic Assessment for Blackwater Gold Project. Reefton. Westland Province. New Zealand, OceanaGold, October 21st 2014.

External Links



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