quartz roasting pits

Built for the Colonial Gold Company and operated from 1855 by expert Cornish immigrant miners, the complex comprised of quartz roasting pits, crushing battery, reservoir, huts and other buildings for the thirty or so mechanics and labourers.

Quartz gravel was poured into the kilns along with alternate layers of firewood and roasted. A constant supply of roasted quartz was maintained by firing one pit as the other was cooling and being emptied.

The kiln roasting weakened the ore before crushing in the battery and assisted in separating gold from other minerals trapped in the quartz, however roasting may have hindered the gold extraction process, perhaps playing a role in the plants sudden closure. After roasting, hot ore was probably shovelled through the openings in the kiln bases into handcarts on rails and down the slope to the battery plant.

Poor gold returns, reckless expenditure and mismanagement at Hargraves suddenly forced the Colonial Gold Company to fold. Barely a year after operations began this major crushing plant was closed, its machinery sold and the site abandoned.