Henrie, Clarence Moore

Clarence Moore Henrie

The Tasmanian Copper Company formed during the copper revival at the turn of the century restarted the mine at Blinman for which it paid $1,700 and also bought many other mines in the vicinity during the next few years. It spent an enormous amount of money on improvements such as dams, smelters, watersupply, poppet heads, boilers, electric lights and roads. Its manager, Clarence Moore Henrie, was the main driving force behind all these improvements at Blinman and such mines as the Sliding Rock, Leigh's Creek and many others.

In 1904 most of the initial developmental work was completed and the Blinman mine restarted, raising 435 tons of ore, employing forty-six miners. The furnaces were blown-in at the end of September, and miners were leaving their employment at other mines to work at Blinman. During that year the workforce at the mine increased to more than 250 men and boys, and tenderers were sought to deliver six-hundred tons of coke per month for the next six months, taking copper matte from the mine as back loading.

Henrie also advertised for five hundred camels to be used for the transport of copper ore. The Inspector of mines, W.H. Matthews, reported in February 1906 that "mining operations have been prosecuted vigorously and with the most satisfactory result". By 1907 the mine employed more than four hundred men. That same year it was reported that the enterprise of the Tasmanian Copper Company "has had a most invigorating influence on the mineral outlook in the far north".

The Tasmanian Copper Company contemplated the building of smelters at Leigh's Creek. Before anything could be done, however, railway concessions were needed so that the carriage of low grade ore and of coke over long distances might be rendered possible. To secure these, and other concessions, Henrie travelled to Adelaide to meet the railway commissioner, to arrange the necessary details. As a result of this meeting smelters were started at Leigh's Creek, and expected to be finished within six months.

With the world price of copper almost double the price paid some years before, it was expected that the Railway Department would obtain a considerable amount of freight in both directions. When the smelters were in operation it was expected to employ at least a couple of hundred men, including those working on the nearby Leigh Creek coal mine.

All this extra activity at the Blinman mine, and at the many others in the Northern Flinders Ranges, created a large influx of miners and their families, most of them settling in Blinman North. Among the new settlers were a number of Afghans, and Aborigines, enough for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to open a depot at the town. Once again there were enough people in town to support not only two hotels, but also a billiard room.

The Mine suffered a serious setback in 1907 when Clarence Moore Henrie, suddenly died after a visit to the Leigh's Creek Hotel in Copley. With his death it lost its biggest driving force. On 25 May 1907 a public meeting was held at Blinman for the purpose of commemorating Mr Henrie's "great services to the mining industry of the north". At the end of the meeting the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:

1. That the late C.M. Henrie did more for the welfare of northern mining than any other man, and that it is only fitting that the public should in some way show their appreciation of his good work.
2. That a most suitable manner in which to do this would be to endeavour to raise sufficient founds for a scholarship in the School of Mines, South Australia.
3. That this scholarship be of an annual value of $100 a year, tenable for three years by boys residing from and including Port Augusta in S.A. northwards, and that the candidate be chosen every three years by competitive examination.
4. That all northern towns be communicated with and asked to co-operate in this movement, and also that the various business establishments who had shared in the mining prosperity of the north be invited to contribute towards this fund.
5. That the sum of $2,000, capitalized at 5 percent is necessary to create a prominent scholarship. The S.A. government to be approached with a view of their subsidising to some extent the amount raised by subscription.

It was agreed by all that this scheme would serve two good purposes. First of all it would perpetuate the memory of Mr Henrie, and secondly it would provide an incentive to the boys of the Northern Flinders Ranges to take up the study of geology and mineralogy. This last point was particularly important as the northern boys had little chance of sharing in the educational advantages available to other boys further south.


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