Victoria Battery Cyanide Tank Holders

Pukekauri Road, Waikino

  • Victoria Battery Cyanide Tank Holders, Waikino. CC Licence 2.0 Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Robin Capper. Taken By: Robin Capper. Date: 30/12/2015.
  • Victoria Battery Cyanide Tank Holders, Waikino. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Derek Smith. Taken By: Derek Smith - travelling-light. Date: 2/07/2005.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 4678 Date Entered 28th June 1990

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City/District Council

Hauraki District

Region

Waikato Region

Legal description

Sec 1 SO 59644 Blk XIV Ohinemuri SD Rec Res

Summaryopen/close

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

The Victoria Battery complex at Waikino was built in 1897, to process ore being produced at the Martha, Waihi and Grand Junction mines. The MacArthur-Forrest cyanide process for the extraction of gold and silver from crushed ores was developed in Scotland in 1886. The patent was owned by the Cassel Gold Extraction Company. In 1889 the Crown Company of Karangahake carried out the first field trials of the process by which 92% of the gold and 54% of the silver content of the ore was recovered, in contrast to the 60% of the gold and 3570 of the silver which was recovered by the previous pan amalgamation process. In 1897 the New Zealand Government purchased the patent rights for the process for £10,000. This money had been recouped by 1905 from the small royalty charged to the users.

The local invention in 1902 of the Brown (or B and M) agitator tanks (known in some countries as Pachuca tanks), facilitated this increase in the extraction rate. The process involved cylindrical tanks in which the mix of pulverised ore and cyanide solution was agitated by charges of compressed air forced through the inverted conical bases. This air also provided a supply of - oxygen which further improved the extraction of the metals. The tanks which were built at the Victoria Battery between 1902 and 1910, were steel cylinders 4.5 metres in diameter and about 15.25 metres high which stood on the concrete holders or bases remaining at the site. Elsewhere tanks were made of wood or concrete. A spectacular set of concrete tanks survives at the Union Hill, Waihi.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

The cyanide tank holders at the Victoria Battery site, Waikino, are a visible reminder of the successful field application of an improved method of extracting gold and silver from crushed ores. The method had been discovered in Scotland, but its industrial application was a local development. The holders and adjacent ruins indicate the large scale of the gold mining enterprise at Waihi and Karangahake.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

ARCHITECTURAL QUALITY:

These cyanide tank holders make full use of the plastic qualities of poured concrete in the form of interlocking hexagonal elements. It achieves a compact industrial design, making effective use of the restricted space within the former industrial complex. This is a unique structure not repeated at other gold producing plants.

TOWNSCAPE/LANDMARK VALUE:

This remnant of industrial architecture is a prominent feature of the Ohinemuri River flat at the entrance to the Karangahake Gorge. It is clearly visible from State Highway 2.

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Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION:

The ruins consist of a number of hexagonal supports for the cylindrical cyanide tanks. Between the angles each vertical side has an arched opening. The whole complex is an integrated construction in concrete. In the top of each unit is a circular seating for the steel tanks. In many of these remain the inverted conical floors of the tanks through which the air which agitated the slimes and cyanide solution was forced.

MODIFICATIONS:

All superstructure and ancillary plant has been removed.

Notable Features

Its considerable visual appeal, from close-up

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1902 - 1910
Between 1902-1910

Construction Details

Concrete

Completion Date

4th January 1990

Information Sources

McAra, 1988

J B McAra, Gold Mining at Waihi 1878-1952, Waihi, 1988

Thornton, 1982

Geoffrey G. Thornton, New Zealand's Industrial Heritage, A.H. & A.W. Reed, Wellington, 1982

Other Information

A copy of this report is available from the NZHPT Northern Region office

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.