[Yn Lioar Manninagh Vol 2 pp32/33]

NOTE ON THE HISTORY OF THE FOXDALE MINES.

By W. H. KITTO.

Member of the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, London.

At what time mining operations in this, the Foxdale district, were first carried on is not known, but it is said the, lodes were worked by a London Company early in the 18th century, and, according to handed down tradition and the remains of the ancient workings, their operations must have been attended with considerable success, so long as the primitive machinery then used for draining the mines was of any avail.

There are several lodes in Old Foxdale, but the, two principal bearing ones called the North and South, are very dissimilar-the: former hard, with all its ore highly charged with silver, ranging from 50 to 400 ounces per ton, and at times having small quantities of Tetrahedrite or Fahlerz, an ore of copper and antimony averaging from 3,000 to 4,000 ounces of silver, whilst the South, or soft donkey lode, by its side yields comparatively little silver, but a greater quantity of lead ore.

The character and nature of the rock through which the Foxdalo lode runs is clay slate (mien schist). but irrupted through by the granite. In the upper part of the mine the lode passed through alternate masses of clay, slate, and granite, but, in our deeper levels it has settled down entirely into pure granite.

In the year 1827 these mines were being worked by a private gentleman, who had a lease of the whole Island, with the exception of the Laxey district and the Bishop's Barony, but, he being desirous to part with the property, sold his interest to some gentlemen in Chester and Liverpool, who formed it into a private adventure and called it the Isle of Man Mining Company, dividing it into sixteen equal shares, in which it remained until it was thought advisable to bring it within the operations of the Joint Stock Company Act, resultiz g eveutu li- in its being registered as a Limited Company, with 2,800 shams of '25 each and a, capital of 70,000 in 1853, which was again changed into 14,000 shares of 5 each in 1881

The grant originally possessed by the Company was enormous, but, after the mineral rights of the Duke of Athol passed over to the Crown, it was reduced on each successive application for a new lease, until it is now comprehended within certain limits in the parishes of Marown, Patrick, and Malew, comprising about 6,000 acres.

The principle upon which these mines have been worked now for many years past has been to keep pace with the times in the introduction and utilisaiion of all improvements in machinery, explosives, and systems of working, and in regulating our raisings by the discoveries, and thus endeavouring to create such a system of reserve as to make the property rather an investment than a mere mining speculation.

I may add that during the last four years we have expended over 33,000 in sing a perpendicular shaft and furnishing it with the newest and most improved machinery, so as to be in a position to work the mine economically. This did not cost the shareholders a penny, having all been paid out of the revenue.

The quantity of ore raised since its re-opening in 1853 is 73,381 tons.

FEATHER ORE (PLUMOSITE).

By W. H. KITTO.

Member of the Institution of l.Iining and Metallurgy, London.

This is not uncommon from certain mines in Saxony, and on the South of the Hartz mountains, but it is not known to be found in any British mines, with the, exception of Foxdale. Its composition is as follows: -

Lead

50.61

Antimony

29.83

Sulphur

19.56

Analyses, hovever, show that part of the lead is apt to be replaced by iron -up to two or three per cent., or, by smaller amounts of copper, zinc, bismuth, or silver.

Plumosite was first discovered in the western part of these mines at the 86 fathom level. It is associated with fine-grained galena, and a vuggy qu;irtz, with transparent crystals ; it occupies these- "vugs," seldom filling them up entirely, but usually attached by one portion whilst tbc remainder floats loosely. Its appearance is much like a piece of dark cotton wool. Upon close examination there will be found numerous, light grey, metallic, lustred hairs, as if flung together, and, sometimes, so felted into on,. plane, the prisms crossing in different directions, as to look like a bit of rag or woven cloth. Recently we have discovered it in the eastern part of the mine, about 60 fathoms deeper, in grey quartz and killas, with both side., of the lode composed of granite.

We have not found it in large quantities, and never entirely in granite, but always in the locality of lead rich in silver.


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