The Tharsis Sulphur and Copper Company

The Tharsis Sulphur and Copper Company, Limited, 136, West George Street.—

    One of the largest and most influential of British mining institutions, is that which has for the past twenty-two years, traded and operated under the well-known title of the Tharsis Sulphur and Copper Company, Limited, with head offices at 136, West George Street, Glasgow. This important association was formed and established in 1866, with the object of acquiring and working certain large and valuable mining properties in Spain, and since that date its operations have been attended with a degree of success that has been remarkable, as an illustration of splendid commercial and industrial development. The financial statistics of the concern support the statement made at the commencement of this brief notice, and serve to fully establish the company as an institution, whose vested monetary interests have always been of the first order of magnitude.

    During the twenty-one years ending December 31st, 1887, the company’s gross profits from all actual industrial and commercial undertakings, have amounted to £5,983,082, of which £3,942,318 have been distributed in dividends. These dividends have, in many instances, been remarkable in their eminently satisfactory character. The first paid was at the rate of 10 per cent, on a dividend capital of £300,000. This was in 1868. In 1870 the same rate was paid on £838,797 of dividend capital, and in the next year the percentage was doubled on the same capital. In 1872 the dividend capital was £900,000, and the dividend payment thereon stood at the magnificent rate of 40 per cent. This was the company’s grandest achievement, and would seem to indicate an exceptionally good year in the copper trade generally. The dividend capital now stands at £1,174,660 ; and upon this amount the company has paid as high a rate as 27 1/2 per cent. In 1885 there was a very noticeable falling off, as also in 1886 ; and both these decreases are attributed to the quite unprecedented depreciation of the value of copper in the market, the mineral having during these years descended to figures never before known in the history of the copper trade. Iron and silver, of both of which the company are large producers, also fell very considerably, and the result was a falling off in profits. Still the company’s splendid resources and connection have well sustained it, and the dividends paid in 1886, and 1887 (10 per cent, and 7 1/2 per cent, respectively, on £1,174,660), were anything but unsatisfactory. There is, it is hoped, a likelihood of some improvement in the copper market in the near future, and any advance in prices will, in the aggregate, result beneficially to the finances of a concern, so deeply interested in that particular metal as the one now under notice.

    The company control large metal-extracting works in this country, which are variously situated : at Glasgow ; Widnes, Lancashire ; Newcastle and Willington on Tyne ; Oldbury, Staffordshire, and Cardiff, South Wales. At these works, which are among the most completely and perfectly equipped in Great Britain, copper, iron, silver, and gold are extracted, and the copper refined, after the imported minerals have been treated for the manufacture of sulphuric acid by the alkali and chemical manure makers. Copper, sulphur, iron, silver, and gold, are the chief products of the ore, and in separating and turning these to account, the business consists. The company’s mines, at Tharsis, and Calanas, in Spain, are very ancient, and are known to have been worked by the Phoenicians, Carthagenians, and Romans, in-times prior to and coeval with the Christian Era. Indeed it is now generally considered by biblical scholars that the south of Spain, where these and similar large mineral deposits are found, is the ancient Tarshish referred to in Scripture; and, certainly, the modem name Tharsis would seem to sustain this hypothesis to a great extent.

    The company employ, all told, from six thousand to eight thousand men, a fact which will convey some idea of the magnitude of its undertakings. The Glasgow Herald, of May the 30th, 1888, in reference to the company’s exhibits at the Glasgow International Exhibition, says : “A most interesting and attractive exhibit is that of the Tharsis Sulphur and Copper Company, Limited. It consists of a large model of the Tharsis mines, showing an area of about six square miles, which is accompanied by an oil painting of the North Lode Opencast. At the base of the exhibit are grouped specimens of the ironstone outcrop of the lodes — cupreotis schist, cupreous pyrites, burnt ore, purple ore, and the last-named material converted into blocks for use in blast furnaces. Large showcases on either side, contain a series of specimens, illustrative of the industry as carried on at the mines for the production of cement copper, and also samples of native copper and natural stalactite sulphate of copper.

    Many Phoenician and Roman antiquities are also shown, which have been discovered in the course of the company’s operations, including a large glass urn with human bones, tear bottles, perfumery bottles, glass bowls, clay lamps and mugs, nails, coins, and various bronze articles. The showcase on the other side, contains illustrations of the operations carried on at the company’s works in this country, showing the successive stages in the treatment of the ore, ending in the metals fitted for manufacture. Copper slabs, weighing from 36 cwt. downwards, billets and ovals for the manufacture of solid drawn tubes, wire bars and ingots of the various classes of copper, including the high-class conductivity quality required for electrical purposes, are also shown. An interesting feature is the exhibition of the chief metals contained in one pound of the ore, and the gold and silver contained in a 100 tons of the original mineral. The silver has been cast as a bell, and weighs 136 1/2 ozs., while the gold weighs 5 1/4 ozs.”

    Very large and handsome offices are occupied in West George Street, and the routine business of the concern receives the attention of an executive staff, consisting of Mr. Jonathan Thomson Secretary ; Mr. William A. Verel, General Manager ; and Mr. Theodore Merz, Technical Manager. At the head of the directorate appears the well-known name of Sir Charles Tennant, Bart., and he and his colleagues on the board, all gentlemen of standing and repute, administer the affairs of the company with the continuous capacity and sound judgment, which have been instrumental in constituting it the prominent and representative factor it now is, in the vast sum of British mining industries.

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