Marsman Hong Kong (China) Ltd – Needle Hill Tungsten Mine during 1938-1951?

Our article Needle Hill Tungsten Mine has the following extract:

“This abandoned mine is situated on the southern slopes of Needle Hill between Upper Shing Mun reservoir and Tai Wai. It was among the largest mining operations Hong Kong has seen, [and certainly its biggest Tungsten Mine].

The deposit was discovered in 1935 by a civil engineer, Mr G Hull, who was working on the construction of the Jubilee Reservoir (now known as Shing Mun). Hull was panning in a stream at lunchtime. He recognized wolframite-rich placer deposits (which are an accumulation of valuable minerals formed by gravity separation during sedimentary processes) in sediments being excavated from the Upper Shing Mun river and traced the mineralisation to quartz veins on Needle Hill.

Hull obtained a mining licence in the same year but the lease was subsequently transferred to Marsman Hong Kong China Ltd.  Marsman undertook prospecting from 1935-1937, and development works began in 1938 with three adits used to extract the ore. From 1938-1941 an estimated average annual production of 120 tonnes of wolframite concentrate was achieved with the establishment of a medium capacity gravity concentration plant capable of treating 100 tonnes of crude ore per day.”

The ordinance below dated 8th May 1939 refers to Messrs. Marsman Ltd, and  states the hours during which “blasts may be fired”  on their mining lot No 9, Needle Hill, New Territories. This is a reference to Needle Hill Tungsten Mine and confirms that the mine was being operated by the company at this time.

The HK Government Gazette, May 12 1939

The HK Government Gazette, May 12 1939

The Japanese invaded Hong Kong on 8 Dec 1941 . After rapidly moving down through the New Territories and Kowloon they crossed onto Hong Kong island on 18 Dec.  HK surrended on 25 Dec 1941.

Given the ordeal that all the inhabitants of Hong Kong then went through it might seem trivial to ask:-

*  what did Marsman Hong Kong China Ltd do at Needle Hill mine as the Japanese approached/invaded Hong Kong?

* what happened to the Needle Hill Tungsten Mine during WW2?

The 2005 published book Hong Kong Mining History, provides this timeline from 1938:
1936 A 21-year mining lease, Mining lot No.9 covering about 540 acres, was issued to Marsman Investments Ltd of London.
1938 The mining lease was transferred to Marsman Hong Kong (China) Ltd.
1941 More than 500 Chinese miners were working in the area. The mine was closed in December due to the Japanese occupation.
1942 The mine was reopened by the Taiwan Development Co. (operated by Japanese) in July.
1945 After WW2 the mine site was once again abandoned. All mining machinery and faclities were looted.
1946 Small-scale excavations were carried out by the former miners.
1951 The mine was sub-leased to the Hing Foo Mining Co. and reopened.

This article was first posted on 12th December 2013. 

Source: Hong Kong Mining History, Hong Kong Mining History, Jackie CT Chu and Jacky SL Chan, ProjecTerrae, 2015


  1. Marsman Drysdale Group history

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. Jan Hendrik Marsman – Escape from Hong Kong during WW2
  2. Needle Hill Mine – 1961 account
  3. Gordon Burnett Gifford Hull – Needle Hill Mine, Shing Mun Reservoir
  4. Sang Sang Mining Company – connection to Needle Hill Tungsten Mine, 1935?



  • Lawrence Tsui

    There were some mention of mining done during the Japanese Occupation, especially the Lin Ma hang Mine, in the intelligence reports of the British Army Aid Group (BAAG) – see the Sir Lindsay Ride Private Papers.


  • Hugh Farmer

    Thanks Lawrence.

    I haven’t seen the Sir Lindsay Ride Private Papers. It will be interesting to see what they have to offer regarding the Lin Ma Hang mine during WW2.

    On Dec 19 2013 I published an article, Lin Ma Hang Mine, which contains the following extract. I shall add this to the recent post, HK Industry during WW2.

    “Small-scale mining was carried out [at Lin Ma Hang mine] in a haphazard way during the Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1945. This was done mostly by robbing pillars in the eastern section of the mine, which resulted in the roof caving in and making it generally unsafe. Most of the equipment was removed during this time and the buildings were looted and damaged but probably not by the Japanese.”

    I can’t remember where I found this information.

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