The Balaclava Works.

 

The site of the Balaclava open cut mine.
Balaclava Mine 1858-59

The Balaclava hill cyanide works and the Balaclava open cut mine were two of the most prominent features of the Rushworth mining booms. This is not only due to their past significance during the rushes but many of the sites involved in both the Balaclava cyanide works and open cut have had such an impact on the locals both past and present.

Discovered in 1854 the balaclava hill reef mine with its bountiful deposits of gold ore and quartz would go on to be the most glorified sites involved in the Rushworth districted. Discovered by Lewis and Nickenson by accident they became partners and run the mine having to employ more than 100 men in the first year.[1] Employing those men was worth it however with the mine earned more than £15,000 each in their first year.[2] Nickenson dropped out of the company in 1857 and Lewis was left to his own devices. As years went by the amounts of gold yielded per year dwindled and by 1859 something needed to be done in order to keep both the progression of the mine going and keep it yielding large profits partnerships were a thing of the past and the companies moved in.

This partnership later turned into the Balaclava Hill Quartz Mining Co. due to the need to raise more capital to keep up with the latest mining technologies. After the formation of this Lewis continued to mine Balaclava hill and it yielded on average £6000 per year.[3]

Balaclava Mine when it was open to tourists

The mine slowing dropped its amount of employed persons, as did all the mine sites as time went by due to the deposits running out and no more being discovered. This was the same across the mines as the total number of miners employed in the Rushworth region by 1881 was down to 150[4] a far cry from the thousands who first made an appearance to fossick in 1853 or even the amount first employed by Lewis and Nickenson in their first year.

The Balaclava site had pretty much ceased mining by the 1920’s with very little activity being recorded. The mine later on came back to support the community by becoming a tourist attraction for the region.

 


[1] D Bannear, ‘Historical Mining Sites in the Rushworth (Waranga North) Mining: Part Two: Site Gazetteer’, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, May 1993, pp.8

[2] D Bannear, ‘Historical Mining Sites in the Rushworth (Waranga North) Mining: Part Two: Site Gazetteer’, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, May 1993, pp.8

[3] D Bannear, ‘Historical Mining Sites in the Rushworth (Waranga North) Mining: Part Two: Site Gazetteer’, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, May 1993, pp.8-22

[4] Doc8: ‘Mining at Rushworth’, Bendigo Advertiser, 14 December 1881, p. 3.

 

 

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