Latest news, historic mining stories, and more.

Horrible Murder at Hillgrove Mine

How a pair of stolen boots walked Amazing Grace all the way to the gallows

Hillgrove, New South Wales | 1888

One fine evening late in January 1888, John Grace strode into Faint’s Hotel in the small gold-mining town of Hillgrove, slapped a handful of silver coins onto the bar and ordered a drink. Such a common sight in an Aussie pub shouldn’t have raised any eyebrows – except the drinker in question had been bumming beers and smokes from just about everyone in that bar ever since he’d blown into town after Christmas.

Even more amazing, Grace – who now sported an uncharacteristically smart pair of new boots – proceeded to join a poker game and spent the rest of the night gambling away a startling quantity of folding money. More remarkably still, he paid his bar and room tab up to date.

Some of the onlookers may have recalled that Grace had been seen in the company of a prospector in the same bar the evening before. Maybe the pair had struck it lucky? One or two of the other drinkers might even have looked around the room to see if the prospector was also there, celebrating a new gold find.

But he wasn’t anywhere to be seen.....

Timely Tenement Wisdom

We are happy to announce our very first virtual tenement manager. Introducing…Dara!

The name Dara is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning is ‘nugget of wisdom’ - a name fitting don't you think? Nugget; goldrush, wisdom; owl - tenement manager summed up!

It's no secret that our Managing Director, Tracy Browning, is passionate about bringing clients value, and due to the explosion of interest in acquiring gold tenements in the Goldfields, wanted to offer a service of wisdom that is available 24/7.

Dara's office will be located on our website but keep an eye out for the nuggets of wisdom on our social media pages!

Enjoy the convenience of timely tenement wisdom in one fully integrated virtual tenement manager.

Billy Goat Racing – an excellent sport

I’m sure that we have all heard of the term ‘Billy Cart’ which refers to a small cart with no power or pedals which was usually constructed and ridden by children. However the term originally came from Billy Goat Carts which were small carts pulled by one or sometimes two goats hitched to a small cart with a seat for one or sometimes two children.

As you will see from these ‘Goldfields Goat’ carriages it was popular from children of poorer families up to more stylish rigouts of the more well to do in the town. The goats were usually feral goats brought in from the bush and trained to pull a cart. The practice was eventually discontinued as being too cruel to the goats and dangerous to the children.

Expenditure Strategy Tool

I recently caught up with Ashok Parekh, chartered accountant, and chairman of Horizon Minerals, to explain Global Tenements development of the Expenditure Strategy Tool.

In light of the industry being beset by plaints, causing huge grief and expensive legal bills, Mining companies must become more committed to exploring their ground – and recording every action and expenditure related to such exploration – to prevent exposure to forfeiture action.

Global Tenements Expenditure Strategy Tool enables clients to better plan their exploration spend through transparent budgeting and easy tracking. Launch date coming soon.

How Covid-19 has changed the process for exploration tenements in Western Australia

On 1 July 2020, the Mining Regulations 1981 (WA) was amended to enable applications for exemptions from expenditure for COVID-19 related reason to be made for exploration licences and prospecting licences, where justified.

The usual timeframe for lodgement of supporting evidence (statutory declaration) for COVID-19 related exemption applications does not apply. Non-compliance with the new timeframe may result in the commencement of forfeiture proceedings by DMIRS.

The changes also amend the objection period for such exemptions from 35 to 14 days and allow the notice of application for exemption to be published online rather than posting of the notice at the Mining Registrar’s office.

“Both the existing arrangements and the temporary COVID-19 arrangements will operate in parallel from the date the temporary arrangements are brought into effect until 30 June 2021.” (Government of Western Australia, Department of mines industry regulation and safety, applying for an exemption from expenditure conditions, 2020, p3).

Please contact Global Tenements for more information.

Shining a light on the terror of expenditure planning

We all know someone who has frantically managed expenditure by addressing their under-explored ground at the last minute. Sure, with luck it may work, but isn't it time to retire that system of planning? This is especially important in light of an increasing incidence of forfeiture plaints that has cost some miners dearly.

Here’s how it works: in addition to Departmental monitoring, the Mining Act 1978 (WA) establishes an industry self-regulation mechanism that enables anyone to apply to the Warden’s Court of Western Australia for the forfeiture of a mineral title on the grounds that the titleholder has not complied with the Act. After hearing the complaints, the Mining Warden makes recommendations to the Minister who may impose penalties or declare the title to be forfeited.

If the forfeiture is granted, the plaintiff has first option to apply for the tenement and, if this is granted, then has the opportunity to work the ground. There is now growing concern that this action is being used by serial plaintiffs to extort so-called “go away payments” from tenement holders.

For example, Focus Minerals recently settled 102 applications for forfeiture against the company’s tenements. The settlement deed required Focus to make a $400,000 cash payment to the applicants and transfer 13 of its tenements to the applicants.

Gormless and greedy: how a new-style Robin Hood went from newly married to newly-minted jailbird

Perth, Western Australia | 1939

Tom Letts saw himself as the Robin Hood of his extended family, scattered as they were across the vast Australian landscape. When they struggled, he was moved to help. When they needed money, he found it. If this meant taking from the rich to give to the poor, he was up for the task.

Letts was uniquely positioned to provide sustenance and succour to his grateful kin. For one thing, he had a job – no mean accomplishment during the Great Depression. Better still, and more to the point, his working days were spent surrounded by an abundance of gold.

Beautiful, gleaming, valuable gold.

Surely no-one would miss just a little bit? After all, gold miners were rich and he had hungry mouths to feed. So, like all too many of the young, gormless and greedy, he identified theft as a smart career choice. More precisely, he stole gold from that august symbol of Western Australia’s mining wealth, the Perth Mint.

It was all too easy, really. During his day job as a labourer in the Mint’s mill room, he noticed tiny bits of the precious metal scattering on the floor during milling. One day late in 1938, presumably after the beseeching notes from his cash-strapped family became too much to bear, and after a quick glance around to make sure he wasn’t spotted, he bent down and picked up a handful.

The luminous little lumps slid easily and naturally into his trouser pocket…

And just like that, Tom Letts found a new direction in life!

The Publican and the Pig

Coolgardie 1905

Paddy Murphy ran a ‘Shypoo’ (sly grog) ranch unbeknownst to the authorities. His establishment was always identified by Paddy’s favorite pet pig. Paddy could not read or write, nor could his wife Bridget. Their system of accounting didn’t apply the rules of double entry it answered all practical accounting purposes well enough. It was simplicity itself.

For each customer a large potato was held in the back room and Paddy made a nick in the said vegetable each time a drink was ordered. After a long evening all the old weight chasers had folded up their tents and called in to ‘wash off’ the track. They called to Paddy for their account at the end of their revels.

Rushing out to the back room to count out their indebtedness calamity awaited him!!!!!!  Horrified he returned to the bar woefully and said to his better half “Jesus Bridget the %#?#!! pig has eaten the ledgers.

Don't ham it up over record security. Go the whole hog and let Global Tenements stop others pigging out on your hard work. 

Credit: Moya Sharp,

The Worst Accident in the history of Australian Gold Mining and The Nicholas Family

William Nicholas was the manager of the Main Load GM in Burbanks. He had a long flowing white beard and was known for his eccentric behaviour, earning him the nickname ‘The Professor’. William married Alice Fowler and had two daughters, Alice May and Zoe Victoria, and two sons Clive Lanyon and William.

During the 1890’s the family migrated to Western Australia and Nicholas took up the management of Burbanks. His concern for mine safety no doubt owed a great deal to an incident near Bendigo VIC in the early 1880’s. At the time he was the manager of the North Creswick GM. Although a good manager he was not very good at sums. He made an error of 55ft when measuring the distance between an old flooded shaft and the new workings. When the water started to seep through, he was not unduly concerned as the pumps in the main shaft were powerful.

Celebrating 10 years in business

From those early days when I struggled to find clients, get clients to pay (an ongoing battle), finding staff, keeping staff (I am blessed with a wonderful team) and expanding the services GETS offer in mining tenement management I have come a long way.

I am feeling particularly chuffed that on my 10th anniversary I was finally able to open the subscriptions to Global Tenements software and offer mining and exploration companies this online service to manage their tenements. It resisted me to the final hour but at 4:30 pm yesterday I can now say we are ready to welcome subscribers to Global Tenements.

As covid-19 has shown us you can't rest on your laurels but must constantly adapt to stay relevant and keep your clients and staff safe. It is not time to voice your doubts but lead your team through these exceptional times and give them a safe harbour.

Personally my harbour is very crowded at the moment. We are sheltering 3 sons, a daughter-in-law and two grandchildren under one roof. The once quiet house is now a hive of activity which is delightful except for one thing … who is doing the dishes??? 

Cost of Missing a Deadline

Our mining tenement management world sees plenty of mistakes made by overworked and underpaid Exploration Managers of mining companies which can result in them losing a very valuable asset.  Difficult to explain to shareholders that the project you were touting as being the next bonanza suddenly disappearing because you were overwhelmed and missed lodging a critical action by the deadline which resulted in the mining tenement being forfeited by the Dept of Mines.

It can even happen to Rio Tinto who mounted a legal campaign to get the Shovelanna iron ore deposit back when they missed the deadline for lodging a renewal in 2005 which resulted in the death of this tenement.  This deposit was part of the $227 billion Rhodes Ridge iron ore deposit which was put in huge jeopardy due to staff being overwhelmed and missing a key date.

 Despite the headlines at the time warning mining companies what happens when you run foul of Dept of Mines deadline it appears they are still getting it wrong. 

More recently in 2019 Fortescue Metals Group fought an epic battle through the courts to get back a key exploration licence which they had held for more than 10 years and had spent $1.5 million exploring on.  Again, they were late in lodging the renewal.

Therefore it’s important to have good systems in place or a big bank balance for fighting the decisions which lead to the loss of key assets.

How does a business owner enjoy a stress free holiday?

On Tracy Browning's recent holiday to New Caledonia she received a text message about notice of intention to forfeit a tenement.  Did she panic??  Click on link to see the outcome.



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