AGY-76 | Department of Mines

NSW State Archives Collection
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Increased mining activity and general dissatisfaction with the administration of mining by the Department of Lands (1856-1874), led to need for a specialist administration to manage mining in the colony. Under An Act to make better provision for the regulation of mining, 1874 (37 Vic No.13) 'All powers authorities and duties in relation to mining on Crown Lands for gold or minerals other than gold' became the responsibility of the new Department of Mines from 1 May, 1874. (1)

The Act created the position of Secretary of Mines to be appointed by the Governor as the Minister to have charge of the Department, and for the appointment of the necessary staff. (2) The Act authorised the establishment of a School of Mines and a Mineralogical Museum Mining (3) created a new system of mining districts (4) and authorised the appointment of Mining Wardens. (5)

A Mining Board of up to 11 members was established by the Act. Two members (not Mining Wardens) were appointed by the Governor, and up to nine holders of miner's rights, gold mining leases or business licenses from the various mining districts filled the other positions. (6) The Board was responsible for drafting regulations for the conduct of mining in the colony. (7)

James Squire Farnell was appointed Secretary for Mines on 9 May 1874 (8) , to be succeeded on 27 July 1874 by Robert Palmer Abbott. (9) The elected members of the Mining Board took office on 15 June 1874 and the appointments to the Board were announced on 25 June 1874. (10)

On 24 September 1878 the Occupation of Lands Branch, the Roads and Streets Branch (including the business under the Public Gates Act) and the Stock Branch were transferred from the Department of Lands to the Department of Mines. (11) In 1879 the Department had the following branches:
* Mines
* Wardens
* Mining Registrars
* Bailiffs of the Warden's Courts
* Mining Surveyors
* Occupation of Lands (Including the Commissioners of Crown Lands and the Conservation of Forests)
* Sheep Inspectors
* Cattle Inspectors
* Registration of Brands and
* Sheep Directors. (12)

Branches related to lands and agriculture continued to be transferred to the Department of Mines although in 1888 the Forest Branch, the Rabbits and the Public Parks branch returned to the Lands Department. (13)

On 23 October 1891 T. M. Stattery was appointed Secretary for Mines and Agriculture and a new Ministry for Mines and Agriculture was formed to replace the Department of Mines. (14)

1. Mining Act, 1874 s. 7
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid. s. 8
4. Ibid. s. 9
5. Ibid. s. 12
6. Ibid. s. 65
7. Ibid. s. 66
8. NSW Government Gazette 12 May, 1874, p. 1431
9. NSW Government Gazette 28 July, 1874 p. 2313
10. NSW Public Service Lists, 1874, p. 82
11. NSW Government Gazette, 24 September, 1878, p. 3813
12. NSW Public Service Lists, 1879, p. 88 - 97
13. Department of Mines Annual Report for the year 1888, p.5 in Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly, 1889, Volume 4, p. 303
(14) NSW Government Gazette 23 October, 1891 p. 8359

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