Lin Fa Shan Mine

Tymon Mellor: The Lin Fa Shan mine is located in a remote area of the Tai Mo Shan country park, on a steep west facing slope of Lin Fa Shan. The surrounding hills sides have all been mined with shallow excavations searching for Wolframite, the natural ore of Tungsten. At the peak of mining, thousands of miners excavated small headings looking for the elusive mineral before the formal mine opened.

Location

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Lin Fa Shan forms one of the foot hills to Tai Mo Shan, predominantly granite the area has a number of veins of quartz and associated minerals. In this case Wolframite. In the early 1950 there was a world shortage of Tungsten due to the demands of the Korean war compounded with the stockpiling of minerals by the US government. This resulted in a significant jump in mineral prices followed by a drop in price by the end of the decade. In Hong Kong, with a growing pool of new immigrants, mining became the growth industry as everyone wanted to make money.

key_commodity_prices

Inflation-Adjusted Price of commodities (1998=100)

The discovery of Wolfmite and the start of mining at Lin Fa Shan started in the early 1950’s. The area became a centre for those seeking to prosper with over 1000 exploratory headings dug over the hillsides. Below is an aerial photo from 1963, showing the location of the mine and the many small headings.

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The headings are small tunnels excavated into the hillside to find a mineral vein, typically following an east-west trend. The excavations go no more than a few metres into the ground in this search.

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Information on the mining operations are scant, however snippets of information have been found. In a report on the illegal mining on Lantau at Sha Lo Wan, the author notes, “The total number of miners that have drifted in stands now at approximately 700, including hangers-on such as hawkers, food-venders, etc. ‘Home comforts’, ie divans, brothels, gambling etc do not hit the eye yet, as in Lin Fan Shan’s hey-days.”

The registered mine at Lin Fa Shan was operated by Po On Hong Company. Formed in July 1952 the company held the mining licence No 7 for the area. They established surface facilities for the workers and the processing of the ore at the mine entrance located at 360m elevation. Details of the site arrangemenst can be seen from the 1963 aerial photo.

With the drop in ore prices the mine was shut and the company entered into liquidation and was dissolved in July, 1963.

Slide5The mine entrance is located at the back of a shallow valley, with adjacent tailing. Further up the valley there is evidence of other workings, suggesting higher levels to the mine. See the image below.

Slide6The workings are extensive and well developed suggesting the mine was profitable, although details of production remain lost. From the records available the mine must have been seen as a success as the Po On Hong Company applied for a new mining licence in May, 1957. This became something of a problem for the Government; the licence was issued under the 1906 Mining Ordinance and not the then current 1954 Ordinance. As the briefing paper notes, “the then Superintendent of Mines (Mr Keay) had very improperly collected a premium of $73,050 from the Company”. When the company later went bankrupt, the Official Receiver recommended; “that the applicants were not in a suitable financial position to be granted a lease”, and requested the improperly paid premium be refunded. The discussion lasted years!

In 1994 as part of a bat study, the mine was explored and the main adit mapped and recorded as being 480m long.

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The site today is remote and difficult to access, a small path threads through the workings. The foundations of the buildings are clearly visible, along with the tailings and the tunnel entrance sits hidden in one corner of the site.

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This article was first posted on 2nd November 2014.

Sources:

  1. USGS Mineral Resource Programme http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/tungsten/680798.pdf
  2. Geology of the Western New Territories, Geotechnical Control Office, July 1989 – Chapter 10 Economic Geology
    HKG Report on Illegal mining on Lantau Island, dated 28th March, 1952
  3. HKG Memo of 22 March, 1957 from Reg. Gen.
  4. HKU A comparative ecological study of insectivorous bats (Hipposideridae, Vespertilionidae and Rhinolophidae) in Hong Kong, with special reference to dietary seasonality by Garry William John Ades (1994)

Related Indhhk articles: Mines in Hong Kong, a list
The Index contains articles about many Hong Kong mines all of which are linked in the above article.

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