Ma On Shan Iron Mine 1906-1976, open-pit and underground mining
HF: The following information has been extracted from the excellent 2015 book, Hong Kong Mining History, which is a mass of information about several mines and quarries:
Ma On Shan Mine is situated on the southwestern slope of [the mountain] Ma On Shan, approximately 10 km from Shatin. The total ore reserve exceeds 7,000,000 tons, making it the biggest iron ore mine reserve and the biggest mine in Hong Kong.
The mine was active from 1906 to 1976 and was operated under various companies during those 70 years. The village beside the mine was once dependant on agriculture and fisheries before the mine operation. Later on, Japanese entrepreneurs decided to mine the magnetite deposit.
During its peak the daily production reached 800 tons, and employed over a thousand workers. The iron concentrates were mainly shipped to Japan.
Open-Pit Mining Ma On Shan Mine used an open pit mining method from 1906 to 1959 and tens of mining platforms with different elevations were formed. The mineralisation zone is exposed to the surface at an elevation of 300 metres, extending down to 240 metres above sea level, and striking southeast to northwest with a width of 300 metres and a length of 500 metres. The current open pit area is partially vegetated, but one can still see the shape of the pit along wih the levels and the abandoned facilities.
Ma On Shan Mine began its underground excavation in March 1953, and all underground works were designed and guided by Japanese mechanics. The mining method was sub-level stoping. In total the mine has more than 5,000 metres of tunnels and shafts, 3,000 metres of sub-level mine pits and five major chutes. At the 110-metre level, the mine has a 2.2km ore conveyor-belt tunnel, connecting with an adit 200 metres away from the coast.
There was a comprehensive mill utilising the magnetic wet sieving process to increase the grade of the iron sand. The processed iron sand would then be loaded and exported to Japan.
The mine has been abandoned for many years and the lack of maintenance means safety is a concern. Currently all adits are closed and entrance is forbidden.
This article was first posted on 7th May 2016.
Source: Jackie CT Chu and Jacky SL Chan, Hong Kong Mining History, Projecterrae, 2015
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