IV. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
In a tour of one year only, even though the geological work was pursued seven days a week throughout the tour and a distance of over two thousand miles was covered, owing to the difficult character of the tracks, the extreme heat, the necessity for periodical changes in transport-camels and guides, the extent to which traveling was influenced by water supply, the difficulty of arranging for animal and men’s rations while on the march, and the necessity of conducting all official correspondence, paving wages and keeping accounts up-to-date from a camp which was moved from day to day—for these reasons, it was manifestly impossible to do more than find and briefly examine the mineral occurrences already reported chiefly by Somalis, to investigate briefly the country in the vicinity of the traverse with the object of discovering additional minerals, and to form a reasonably accurate opinion as to what areas of country held out some promise of the presence of minerals of economic value.
Minerals of economic value and areas of some promise having been found, it would appear to be the proper course to have the chief occurrences examined in detail and the promising areas thoroughly prospected.
The existence of a coal seam of appreciable thickness and similar to that now being used on the railways and steamboats of Nigeria has been proved in the region south of Ankor, and in the interests of the Protectorate and of general knowledge of the coal resources of the Empire, a careful examination should be made of this region with the object of discovering the same or another seam in other tugs and of proving whether or not other seams occur below the one exposed but in the same locality. The exposed seam should itself be opened out sufficiently to enable typical examples along its whole thickness to be obtained so that accurate data as to its value and the best methods of treating it may be got from analyses and trials by the Imperial Institute.
The results of the examination of the lignite from Khal Der have shown that they are at least equal to those now being worked on a commercial scale at Breunsdorf, in Germany, and to the undeveloped deposits from Okpanam, in Nigeria. Therefore, a thorough search should be made of the outcrops of the series containing them, and, if possible, an attempt should be made by means of a boring plant to prove whether other seams exist at somewhat lower levels. The seams at present known are too thin for exploitation, but, if further search should prove the existence of considerable deposits of lignite, sufficiently large samples should be sent to the Imperial Institute to enable pressure-briquetting tests to be carried out on the lines adopted for Nigerian lignite. The locality is close to Berbera, and transport would present no difficulty. Though it may not be profitable to work the lignite by itself, the material may be worthy of attention in the event of the coal at Hedhed being exploited.
The district southeast of Las Gori, formed of an old series of slates, should be thoroughly examined. Both galena and cinnabar having, apparently, been found in Italian territory close to the border, and galena having already been found on the British side, there is a distinct chance of the discovery of workable lead ore veins and of cinnabar on the latter. Moreover, though the amount of silver present in the galena samples so far assayed is too small to be of value, in view of the occurrence at Kul of the granular or imperfectly crystalline variety which is held to contain a larger amount of silver than the normal variety, deposits of the mineral may be found which are of value for their silver content. Further, as quartz reefs are numerous in the district, and as many of them are ferruginous and of the type in which gold may be expected, the district should be prospected also for gold, especially in view of the suggestions and attempts to prove that the gold-mining districts known to the ancients as Sasu and Punt are identical with it.
The country to the west of Borama, in which, according to the late Colonel gold occurs in the tugs, and in which he had numerous coolies at work on a mineral occurrence, certainly calls for a geological examination.
The northern slopes of the Mirsa Plateau should be further prospected for mica, beryl, and garnet. The extent of the deposits of each of these three minerals should be proved as far as possible, and representative samples of mica from depths at which it is unaffected by weathering should be sent to the brokers for an estimate of value, and, if they are satisfactory, with a view to the exploitation of the deposits by the firms reporting on the samples.
For obvious reasons, some inquiry should be made into the basis for the assertions of the occurrence of diamonds or possible diamondiferous country in the south-eastern part of the Protectorate.
The present state of ignorance with regard to the occurrence of guano on Mait Island should be cleared up. The deposit may be only of local value, but, in any event it is clear from the analysis that it is of use as a fertilizer, and, if only in view of the agricultural possibilities of the Protectorate, the extent and thickness and the chemical nature of the material as a whole should be known and recorded. If, as is the case on some of the Seychelles Islands, lime phosphate is present in considerable quantity, the deposit may be almost immediately productive of revenue to the Protectorate.
Finally, an investigation should be made of the unexplored tract of country between Hargeisa and Bulhar, especially in view of rumors of the existence in it of exceptionally good mica.
Already there have been several requests to the Somaliland Administration from prospectors for permission to examine tracts of the country for particular minerals, and it is probable that owing to the interest aroused by the recent geological survey, by the reports on the petroleum at Dagaha Shabell, and the exhibits at the Empire Exhibition, further requests will be made. Under the unusually difficult conditions of travel and existence in the Protectorate, it is clearly more advantageous to all the interests concerned that these investigations should be carried out by a Geologist with experience of these or similar conditions than that reliance should be placed on the results achieved by more or less uninstructed and inexperienced prospectors and syndicates.
By all means, prospectors should be allowed to search for minerals, but subject to supervision, and on the understanding that an inability on their part to find anything of value does not necessarily prove that it does not exist. This inability and the collection of poor samples may be merely a measure of their ignorance. A large amount of mica, for instance, was at one time collected from the northern slopes of the Mirsa Plateau, and was regarded as typical of the chief occurrences of the mineral in the area. It was worthless, yet excellent samples have been obtained by the writer and others from the same place, and inquiries showed that the former samples had been picked up from the surface where they had been exposed to the weather for many years and no attempt had been made to examine the material below the surface. The prospects of development of the Protectorate should not, at this stage at least, be wholly at the mercy of prospectors and syndicates. What is particularly necessary is reliable information which can be used; by enterprise as a basis and a guide, and reports on the lines set out above will provide this information and prevent, on the one hand, any “wild cat ” ventures, and, on the other, undeserved depreciation of any occurrence.
The investigation and development of the mineral resources of the country will be further greatly facilitated by geological knowledge and experience devoted at the same time for the necessary period
(a) to assisting those interested by determining minerals, proving mineral occurrences, affording advice on the value, method of prospecting and possibly of exploiting deposits, and on the conditions of travel, water supply, and location of promising areas.
(b) Establishing small reference collections of minerals for the guidance of administrative and other officers who travel considerably in the various districts, and of others engaged in a search for minerals.
(c) To increasing the interest of the Somali himself in finding minerals. Most of the minerals formerly obtained in the Protectorate were found by Somalis, and it has frequently been proved that their intelligence and nomadic habits well fit them for prospecting. At present they are averse from trying to find minerals or from making known any discovery, owing to their alleged unfortunate experience in regard to the finding of the Dagaha Shabell oil, for which apparently they received no reward. There is no doubt, however, that, if they are assured of fair treatment and a reward (amounting only to a few rupees), not only do they become fairly zealous searchers, but they will willingly disclose the information they have. With reference, for instance, to the coal south of Ankor, they assert that they know of several other outcrops besides the one seen by the writer, but, in the circumstances then existing, it was impossible for the reason given above, to obtain details of the localities.
(d) To assisting the Administration by preventing exaggeration of the value or false reports of occurrencies, by advice, when it maybe desired, on matters relating to prospecting, mining regulations, water supplies, and minerals generally. Should, for example, the oilfield at Dagaha Shabell be exploited or even thoroughly tested, questions will arise on which expert advice will certainly be necessary, and this should be obtainable with as little delay as possible.
(e) By preserving an accurate record of all mineral occurrences, results of their analyses and their current values and uses, by giving them the necessary publicity and by ensuring for them a thorough practical test.
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