« PředchozíPokračovat »
sheltered harbour; and it has an abundant supply of foreign ore has become quite a distinguishing feature. of coal in the vicinity. These circumstances have In 1814 there were only four vessels which traded determined the settlement of copper smelting in and between Swansea and foreign ports; in 1834 this around Swansea, and have made Swansea the most flou- | number had increased to 46, in 1840 to 328, in 1849 rishing town in the principality. The smelting-works to 771. And it is a remarkable feature in respect to the are scattered about, a few miles around the town; and general trade of the place, that although most of the if we include them as well as the town itself, we find arrivals from foreign ports consist of copper ore, the that the smelting district has now a population of ships depart with even a greater tonnage of cargoes 40,000.
than they bring. The foreign ore thus brought is The Cornish copper ores brought to Swansea, from chiefly from Australia, Cuba, and South America. The 1820 to 1850, have varied from 100,000 to 160,000 tons coasting trade is immense; it consists of the arrival of annually (a ton of copper ore=21cwt.). The quantity copper ore from Cornwall and Ireland, and of general has gradually increased, but the quality has gradually merchandise from various parts; and the export of decreased; that is, an average ton of Cornish ore does coal, copper, iron, and various produce and manufac. not now yield so large a per-centage of pure copper as tures, to different British ports. The arrivals and in former times: the mines are becoming impoverished. departures of vessels engaged in the coasting trade The 'produce,' or per-centage has lowered from 11} amounted in 1849 to no less than 10,000 (averaging to 7} or 3 per cent. The money value of the Cornish 27 per day), carrying 600,000 tons of merchandise. copper ores, within the last few years, has averaged | There are three other ports of shipment in Swansea between £800,000 and £900,000 annually. The ores Bay, viz.— Neath, Port Talbot, and Porthcawl ; and brought from various parts of Wales to be smelted at it is probable that these large numbers apply to the Swansea are inconsiderable in amount-not exceeding whole collectively: the bay being thus regarded as 1000 tons annually on an average of the last ten years. one port. The Irish ores reach Swansea in much greater quan- of the foreign mines whose copper ore reaches tity, though with a gradual decline; in 1840 the Swansea, most are worked by English adventurers or quantity was 23,412 tons, while in 1848 it was 14,554. companies, whether situated in Australia, Cuba, or It is the increase in foreign copper ores which has most Chili. They charter large vessels of 500 to 1000 tons marked the operations of the Swansea smelters within burthen to convey the ore; and this ore is accumuthe last few years. Between 1844 and 1848 the fo- lated in yards or warehouses at Swansea.
The ore is reign copper ore brought to Swansea varied from crushed in these yards before being taken to the smelt36,000 to 47,000 tons annually. The average "pro- ing-works; the crushing is effected by means of broadduce' or richness being very nearly 20 per cent.--far headed hammers, and the fragments are passed through more than double that of the Cornish, and the marketsieves till they assume the state of fine gravel. Some price of the ore being proportionably higher, the annual of the ore is imported in a fine state, and does not remoney value of the ore during those five years gave an quire this breaking and sifting. The ores are weighed, average of £630,000; thereby indicating no inconsider charged with duty, deposited in beds, ticketed, samable approach to the value of Cornish ore.
pled, assayed, and sold to the smelters. Nearly all A table of sixteen years, from 1833 to 1848, gives the Cornish ore is bought in Cornwall, by agents the following useful averages in respect to Swansea employed by the Swansea smelters; but the foreign copper-smelting :
ore is sold in Swansea, after the import. The purAverage quantity of ore smelted 194,142 tons.
chases are called ticketings, and are inade once a fortAverage price per ton
£7 7s. night at the chief hotel in Swansea. The arrangements Average money value
£1,424,818 for these sales are highly curious, and have grown up Average produce of fine copper 18,567 tons.
by degrees so as to meet the convenience of all parties. Average richness of ore
10% per cent.
The agents of the mine-owners or consignees take their Of the foreign ores, those from Cuba are greatest in seats round a table; a chairman takes the chair at a quantity, but those from Chili are richest in quality. particular hour, and announces the lots of ore to be The Australian ores are becoming every year more and sold. These lots have all been previously assayed by more important. In one of the mines of that colony, the the assayers employed by the respective smelters ; and Burra Burra, the £5 shares of the company are now va- an agent for each firm is present to make biddings for lued in the market at more than £200, so rich is the re- the lot. There is no open competition, as at an turn for the capital expended. These ores are gradually tion, but each tender is handed up to the chairman, reaching Swansea in greater and greater quantity. The written on a slip of paper and folded ; and when all copper ore now being found on the shores of Lake Sus have so tendered, the chairman opens the papers, reads perior, in Canada, has hardly yet come into the market. the biddings, and declares the highest bidder to be the
The docks and warehouses of Swansea have be purchaser. Lot after lot is thus disposed of, and all come the scene of a very extensive trade, foreign proceeds so quietly and quickly that £50,000 worth as well as British. Until 1827 nearly all the copper may be sold in an hour, with scarcely a word spoken ore brought to Swansea for smelting was Cornish, but by any one except the chairman. The prices given during the last twenty-three years the importation per ton vary to a remarkable degree in different lots ;
but so rigorous is the assaying, that all the smelters of the smoke distinguishes a copper-work from an iron. bid very closely in respect to any individual lot-all work. The number of processes to which the copper having formed pretty nearly the same estimate of its ore is exposed, and the number of ovens and furnaces value.
of various kinds employed, have given rise to the There is among the copper-smelters a monopoly construction of a very large number of chimneys in virtual though not formal ; something like that of large each work; each chimney doing its little joint-stock companies ; it is open to others to compete, vitiate the air. And when we speak of the white smoke, but the smelting-works are of such great magnitude, let it not be imagined that it is really coal smoke; the capital required to carry them on is so large, and the it is a villanous compound of sulphurous acid, sulinfluence of their proprietors is so widely extended, that phuric acid, arsenic, arsenious acid, and fluoric acid, the entire copper trade may be said to centre in a few all in the state of gases and vapours, and mixed with hands. Many mining proprietors wish to break through mechanical impurities. This is the real white smoke; this monopoly, which they seem to think lessens the the more humble coal-smoke, rising from separate market-price obtained for the ore; but there are chimneys, has the usual dusky colour. other reasons for thinking that the price adjusts itself Let us trace, in few words, the broad outlines of the with tolerable equity to the varying ratio between copper-smelting processes. The Swansea river, the supply and demand. Be this as it inay, out of about Tawy, is deep enough to allow the ore to be brought twenty copper smelting works in Great Britain, seven- up by vessels to the principal smelting-works, where it teen are situated in the Swansea district, belonging is landed, wheeled along stages from the water side, and to eleven firms or companies. Out of these eleven, deposited in immense heaps under capacious roofs. three are companies, known by distinctive names: All the various kinds are kept in separate heaps, which viz., the English Copper Company, the Crown Copper present yellow, green, blue, or red tints, according to Company, and the Mines Royal Company. The other the impurities combined with them. The ore is raised eight are the firms of Williams, Foster, and Co; up by lifting machinery or by an inclined plane to a Vivian and Sons; Sims, Willyams, and Co.; Pascoe | level with the top of the calcining-furnaces, of which Grenfell and Co.; Freeman and Co.; Schneider and there are many in each establishment; and when each Co.; Mason and Elkington; and Lowe. The purchases furnace has received a charge of four or five tons of made by some of these establishments are enormous. ore, it is exposed to the heat of a fierce reverberating For instance, in 1848 Messrs. Williams and Foster flame. The ore is kept stirred, by long instruments purchased copper ore to the value of £413,000; introduced through doors in the furnace; and the Messrs. Vivian, £322,000; Messrs. Sims and Willyams, sulphur and other evaporable impurities are thereby £201,000; Messrs. Pascoe and Grenfell, £180,000; driven off. The calcined ore, having something the and so forth. These immense sums of money are appearance of black gravel, is drawn from the furnace, appropriated for the purchase of the ore only; the wheeled along a stage, and emptied into an ore-furnace, coal, machinery, the workmens' wages, are additional where it is melted; metallic oxides and other subitems of cost-- all of which have to be returned by the stances rise to the surface, and are skimmed off in the selling price of the pure copper when smelted. state of slag; and the melted copper, in a red-hot state,
Of the seventeen smelting-works in what we have is allowed to flow from the furnace into a tank of water, termed the Swansea district, eight are in the immediate ivhere it collects in a granulated state in a tray at the vicinity of the town itself, and the others are dispersed bottom. The slag is examined to see whether it cona few miles in the environs. These eight are the White tains any copper; if it has, it is re-melted ; if not, Rock Works, the Upper Bank Works, the Middle part of it is ast in moulds
make copings for walls Bank Works, the Crown Works, the Hafod Works, (much used in the neighbourhood of Swansea), and the Rose Works, the Landore Works, and the Morva the rest is thrown on the huge slag or cinder-heaps Works.
which accumulate near the works. The granulated Such, then, are the works which we encounter on a copper, when raised from the tanks, is again placed walk up the valley, from Swansea town towards the in calcining furnaces to drive off still more impurities; north. A pretty valley it must once have been ; but and then it is a second time melted, and cast into slabs the chemical poison vomited forth by day and by night three feet long by eighteen inches wide. Notwithfrom the copper works withers the trees and pollutes standing the double calcining and double melting, the the atmosphere. Time was when the townsmen tried copper still contains some sulphur, which requires to by law to compel the copper smelters to “
be driven off by roasting ; this is a kind of slow melttheir own smoke;" but all parties seem now as if they ing and oxidation, by which the copper is brought to regarded the fumes as part and parcel of the wealth of a state almost pure, and is then cast into moulds. Swansea ; and the chimneys have it all their own way. Lastly, to give the finishing touch to the series of The number of these chimneys is truly enormous. purifying processes, the copper is put into a refining Each large smelting-work, such as the Landore of furnace; and when melted, bars of wood are immersed Messrs. Williams, or the Hafod of Messrs. Vivian, is into it, and allowed to burn by the heat of the metal : a little town in itself, whose own body of white smoke in the act of burning, any remaining oxygen is abis distinct from all the other works. The whiteness stracted from the copper, and the metal is poured into
moulds in the pure state in which it reaches the which are liable to be injured by either. All (so-called) market. It is cast into ingots, cakes, or pigs, accord- tin culinary vessels are made of very thin sheets of ing to the purpose to which it is to be applied.
iron, both sides of which have been coated with a But copper-smelting is not the only metallurgic layer of liquid tin. So thin is this layer, that half an process here carried on. The Swansea Valley and the ounce of tin has been made to cover 254 square inches Neath Valley contain iron-works, coal-works, zinc- of surface. There is a chemical affinity between tin works, and tin-plate-works. Of the iron and coal.
Of he iron and coal. and iron, which tends to make them unite when the works we need say nothing : they are similar to those tin is in a fluid form ; but delicate precautions which have before engaged our notice, but smaller. are necessary to ensure the success of this process. Of zinc-works, Messrs. Vivian are proprietors of one The iron is of a superior quality, and is heated of the very small number existing in this country. and rolled several times in succession, until it assumes Zinc occurs in various English counties, in combina- the form of a thin, smooth, and very tough sheet, tion with lead, sulphur, carbon, and other substances; which is cut to the size of a small quadrangular piece and the smelting process has for its object to drive off or plate. The plates then go through a long routine these extraneous matters, and leave the zinc in the of processes. They are steeped in dilute muriatic pure metallic state. The roasting and melting, the acid; they are placed in a red hot oven until a thick refining and deoxiding, somewhat resemble the analo- scale falls off them; they are laid on an open floor to gous processes in copper.smelting, but on a less cool; they are straightened and beaten smooth on an extensive and varied scale.
iron block; they are made additionally smooth and Tin-plate-works, we have said, are also among those elastic by being passed between hardened rollers ; they which distinguish the Swansea district, and which are are steeped for ten or twelve hours in bran-water; likewise to be met with in other parts of South Wales. they are “pickled' for about an hour in dilute sulThis is a very remarkable manufacture. Those who phuric acid ; they are scoured with sand and water ; study the philosophy of a tin-kettle, soon become they are washed in clear water; they are steeped in aware that is is not a tin-kettle ; it is an iron kettle melted grease for an hour; they are plunged into a with a thick varnish of tin on its surface. Tin is too vessel filled with melted tin; they are removed, after soft a metal, and melts at too low a temperature, to be an hour or two, with a layer of tin adhering to both used as a material for making vessels; but it forms an surfaces; they go through a draining process to reexcellent protector from air and moisture for metals move the superfluous tin; they are rubbed with dry
5. --THE MUMBLES.