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the enormous waste of labour occurring in agricultural pursuits in this Colony.
As far as the routine surface work on the mines of the Wit watersrand is concerned, their managers claim, and, I think, with justice, that the waste of labour has been reduced enormously since the opening of these fields, and that the margin for further reduction in this direction is very small. As an example of what has been done, I would instance the fact that the number of employees in a certain 100 stamp mill with crushers, in the year 1890 was 28 white men and 121 natives; this mill crushed under 5000 tons a month. At the present time a 100 stamp mill crushing 14,000 tons of ore a month will only employ II white men and 27 natives; showing that the labour, measured by the tons crushed, has been made 11 times as effective.
I have seen, as doubtless many of you have also seen, a Kaffir who looked on a shovel for the first time, and whose conception of its use was limited to placing it on the ground, carefully filling it with ground scooped up in his hands, triumphantly placing it on the top of his head, then bearing it off to the spot to which the ground was to be shifted. And I have also seen Kaffirs who were able in a day to load 40 tons of sand into trucks, and shift them 40 feet—a task which would be considered excellent work anywhere in the world. If the labour force of any industrial venture is largely composed of men like the first-mentioned, a huge waste of labour will for a time be the result, whereas if any very large proportion can accomplish similar work to that of the second set of workers, then the manager of such an enterprise can view an inspection of his labour sheets with equanimity and unconcern.
While undoubtedly an enormous amount has been accomplished in reducing the waste of labour on the mines of the Witwatersrand, we still have to acknowledge that enough remains to be done to engage the serious attention of those who have the interest of these mines at heart. Personally, I am no great believer in what has been called "dramatic economy of labour." Under such an impulse, the interest on the capital necessary to be spent in order to save the labour of one man, is apt to exceed the wages which would have to be paid that man. I am, however, a great believer in the slow, laborious, but permanent effect of education on the labourer. Catch the Kaffir young, educate him so that he knows how to work, instil into him sufficient ambition and enough wants to make it necessary for him to work continuously in order to satisfy them, then that very necessity for continuous labour will draw out and increase his sense of responsibility, so that he can be trusted to do his work properly without the excessive and wasteful supervision now necessary. Also educate the overseer to realise that he is a foreman of a gang of labourers whom he has to train to work to the best advantage, and this accomplished, you will have probably reduced the waste of labour to the minimum possible under South African conditions.
III. THE WASTE OF MATERIAL.
In considering the third kind of waste in mining, that of material, the subject divided itself naturally into two sub-heads :
Ist. The waste of the mineral sought for.
2nd. The waste of materials used in the process of acquiring the mineral.
On the Witwatersrand enormous strides have been made in reducing the first-named waste. In 1891, on one of the better managed Companies of those fields, a close inspection of the gold returns showed that only 57 per cent. of the assay value of the ore was recovered. In other words, for every sovereign's worth of gold contained in the ore treated, only II shillings and fivepence worth were recovered; whereas under the latest metallurgical practice on those fields by the use of tube mills, 95 per cent. of the assay value of the ore has been banked. This means that out of every sovereign's worth of gold contained in the ore treated, 19 shillings were put into the Bank.
Of course, the difference between 11/5 and 20/- was not all lost. A large portion of this difference was contained in the tailings which were stored and treated in subsequent years. None the less, an immense advance in metallurgical practice has been made; so great indeed has this advance been, that on the best equipped mines little remains to be done in the direction of reducing waste of the commodity sought for. The ingenuity of the engineer is exercised in bringing older plants into line with the newest practice at the least cost for capital expenditure.
The waste of stores used on the Gold Mines of the Transvaal has been great in the past and continues at an excessive figure. This is a case where the directing brain is practically at the mercy of the performing hands. Large reductions have been made in the cost of coal, explosives, cyanide and candles, which form the four largest items of expenditure of the gold mines. In the case of coal, this reduction has been achieved by decreasing the railway rates, and also by a slight reduction in the price at the pit's mouth. The cost of dynamite has been reduced nearly one-half through the freeing of the country from the grip of the former monopoly. Through improvements in manufacture, and by the competition of manufacturers, the cost of both cyanide and candles per unit consumed has been greatly reduced. As far as coal and cyanide are concerned, a close supervision of their consumption has taken place and continues to occupy much of the energies of the engineering and metallurgical talent on the Witwatersrand. I estimate that if all the plants could be run with as small a consumption of coal per ton of ore crushed as the most economical plant uses, then the consumption of coal would be reduced by about one-third of the present amount. While it is quite out of the question, owing to the heterogeneous design of
many of the plants, to expect any such saving to be made, a great improvement can still take place and undoubtedly will gradually be brought about.
The Directors of the Mining Industry have made a long, determined, and serious effort to diminish the waste of explosives, candles, and other stores used underground by paying the men by the results obtained. Some improvement has taken place, but to many observers it seems that an even greater improvement would ensue, provided the intelligent and loyal co-operation of all the men were continuously secured.
I have merely touched the fringe of this very big subject. I have indicated the main heads under which waste occurs, and have suggested certain remedies which I will recapitulate.
Nothing has proved itself so efficacious for the prevention of waste of thought as the free interchange of ideas; made possible by the numerous societies and associations formed for that purpose, among which this Association holds an honoured place. The more vigorous these Societies become, the more closely their proceedings are followed by the members, the more diligent these latter are in research, in like degree will the chances of colossal mistakes and waste of brain energy be diminished. I have also shown what a valuable function in preventing thought waste, centralized management can be made to perform.
I have shown that the fundamental difficulty in preventing waste of labour lies in the untrained condition of the Kaffir for manual work, and the inaptness of many of the white overseers for transforming a semi-savage population into an industrial one. I have also shown that the Kaffir can be inured to labour, and will develop into a first-class source of muscular power when properly treated. I have likewise registered my belief that the most effectual and permanent means of improving away any waste of labour is by educating the overseer to properly fill his position as foreman of a large gang of labourers, and by teaching the Kaffir, through the sharp insistence of varied wants, the necessity and advantage of continuous labour.
The best remedy for the prevention of waste of stores has been shown to be the continued thought of the management combined with the loyal and interested co-operation of the men.
Even if you do not agree with the conclusions I have indicated, I trust you will give this subject your serious thought, for I am convinced that the increased wealth and prosperity of South Africa depend in some large degree on reducing to the minimum possible Wastes in Mining.
BY S. HODDER, F.R.C.T.
It may perhaps afford some guarantee that more than a mere cursory attention has been devoted to the subject of these notes, if I am permitted to explain that for more than thirteen years I was intimately associated with the development of agriculture in Minnesota and Argentina; moreover, it was mainly due to experience gained in the former country that I was entrusted with the organising of the first authorised system of cereal inspection, and the introducing of the most approved methods and appliances for transporting the cereal. crops of the River Plate. These facts are only mentioned here to show that any views hereafter submitted, whether right or wrong, are based on experience acquired under conditions not unfavourable to obtaining trustworthy information and forming careful judgments.
The great question to be determined in the development of the agricultural resources of new countries, lies in the judicious selection of crops to meet the special circumstances of the environment; and in modern times it has been generally recognised that where open prairies constitute the dominant feature in the topography of the country, the winning over of the soil from a state of wildness can be best and most profitably achieved by the cultivation of cereals on a large scale. There is no country in the world perhaps possessing so vast an area of rich lands of this description as the Argentine Republic. Of the three provinces of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, and Santa Fé, comprising in the aggregate an area of 234,000 square miles, or 150,000,000 English acres, more than half of each of the former, and almost the entire province of Santa Fé, present a surface so uniformly level that Darwin records his impressions of this phenomenon in the statement, "Scarcely anything which travellers have written about its extreme flatness can be considered as exaggeration." This particular region is popularly known as the "Great Pampa of South America, and at the commencement of this year presented the unparalleled feature of having 4,389, 100 acres in which alfalfa was growing, unassisted by irrigation, stamping the country with the eminent purpose which Nature undoubtedly intended her to fulfil. Besides these three provinces, Argentina embraces a further area of 800,000 square miles, divided into twenty provinces and territories, which are for the most part mountainous, and enjoy a diversity of climates and geological formations.
For the purpose of illustrating from an economic as well as a practical point of view, how inseparably the growing of cereals and alfalfa are linked together, it is necessary here to make a slight digression, and as we proceed the vital importance of this combination will appear with increasing distinctness. In the early eighties, when the prairies of the Red River Valley and the Great North West came under notice as cereal-producing areas, farms of 5,000 acres sown with wheat were by no means uncommon. The "Dalrymple Farm" at Fargo, boasted of as being the largest wheat farm in the world, had under cultivation about 56,000 acres. A decade later the pampas of Argentina furnished numerous examples of even still
larger tracts constituting a single wheat field; a reference to one of these will serve as a sample of the rest. In the year 1891 Mr. José Guazzone, of Azul, offered to sell on the Bolsa at Buenos Aires the produce of 80,000 acres which comprised his wheat farm.
But sooner or later a day will come to these regions when cereal growing can no longer be practised on the same gigantic scale: the huge farms that form epics in agricultural industry must cease, and the exhausted soil must be given an opportunity to regain its lost fertility. This means that a new stage of development becomes imperative, and extensive farming, in the broadest interpretation of the word, must give place to high farming on extensive lines, with all the problems associated with the selection of cultivated grasses and artificial fertilizers. In the United States and Canada agricultural investigators of the first rank are busying themselves to solve this intricate problem, which in those countries bristles with difficulties : meanwhile, by adopting a system of alternately cropping and summer-fallowing it is sought to prolong the wheat-yielding capabilities of the soil. On the other hand, in Argentina the farmer is confronted with no difficulty whatever; right away he steps from the first stage of development to the climax, without curtailing his income by the smallest fraction, and there is no pause during the transition. The explanation is to be found in the circumstance that alfalfa, the greatest forage plant, and the greatest soil renovator the world has even known, flourishes with the maximum of luxuriance on every farm in the country that has previously produced cereals.
At the present time the area laid down under alfalfa exceeds 6,500,000 acres, many individual farmers possessing more than 15,000 acres sown with the plant. The full significance of these vast expanses, carpeted with bright green herbage of the highest nutritive value, baffles the comprehension of the ordinary observer; it can, however, be accurately gauged by a perusal of the statistical abstracts periodically published by the Minister for Agriculture, who has described alfalfa as "the backbone of the country's prosperity." These pamphlets tell us that a hectare (2.47 acres) of land, which, under indigenous grasses, would support from to head of breeding cattle, will, when laid down under alfalfa, maintain from 3 to 5 head of store cattle, or from 2 to 3 steers for fattening purposes. The cost of preparing the ground, seed, and sowing of alfalfa is given at 14/7 to 16/2 per English acre, where no cereal crop has been taken off, a system largely obtaining in Córdoba and the subAnadean provinces for reasons that will be explained later on, but unnecessary within the cereal belt, where the actual expense incurred may be reckoned by the value of the seed. The life of the plant is given at seven to eight years in the least favourable soils, a term sufficiently long in which to communicate to the land those nitrogenous substances essential to the growth of cereals; and under conditions more conducive to longevity no decay is yet apparent.
The question now arises, what constitutes the most desirable environment for the production of alfalfa? As I have already pointed out, all soils suitable for the cultivation of wheat are found