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JAN 3 1908
HIS being a small book on a very large subject,
it is reasonable to give some explanation of the objects in view in its publication, and of the principle followed in its condensation.
The mining industry, as a whole, has been of such vast importance to Great Britain, and so much of the commercial position of the Empire is directly or indirectly connected with it, that no one will dispute the claims to consideration of the subject. But by many the greater part of this importance will be attributed to coal and iron mining; and in the following pages these two branches of the industry are entirely ignored. One chapter is devoted to showing the magnitude of the interests still involved after excluding coal and iron; and because these last are usually considered more as commercial undertakings than mining risks, so investments in them have been put in a different category from that in which it used to be the custom to include the speculation in mines of gold, silver, tin, copper, lead, etc. The time has passed, however, when investment in mines,
or in the shares of mining companies, was not considered quite respectable for a serious business man. Now many of the capitalists of the world, and a very large and increasing number of the public of limited means, are interested in metalliferous mining.
It must be acknowledged that this growing interest in mining investment, or, if the term be preferred, mining speculation, has been accompanied by great abuses and consequent evils. The natural uncertainties of mining are sufficiently great, but a very large proportion of the public losses in share dealings has arisen from risks not by any means peculiar to mining. The history of public company promoting in connection with mining is full of striking instances of ignorance, fraud, and wild extravagance, which have all led to the unnecessary loss of millions of money; and one of the chief objects of this book is to give some warnings to those who do not have the experience or sources of information necessary to avoid the most palpable dangers.
There is no pretension here of writing a guide to safe investment in mines; but there is no doubt that the observance of some few safe general rules, which are within the comprehension of the uninitiated, would greatly reduce the losses of the public, and still leave ample margin of fair speculative risk.
The great prizes continually recurring in mining, and the increasing difficulty of obtaining a good rate of interest on small sums, must hereafter, as in the past, make mining shares attractive to great numbers; and it is very good for the Empire that capital should be forthcoming to take risks in developing the mineral wealth of the whole world.
Since the natural result of investment in shares is that the investor receives and reads mining reports, it has been considered desirable to devote a few chapters to the technical subjects of mining, and ore treatment; but in a very condensed and popular form, and simply as a help to the understanding of information coming from the mines.