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This sandstone (No. 36) forms an escarpment on the east bank of the small stream mentioned above as flowing into the creek just above the coal.
To the west of this stream nothing is seen except the alluvial soil of the bank, till some courses of a hard sandstone are seen just below Chau-oung (about quarter of a mile up the river).
Below the sandstone is a 2-in. seam of bright bituminous coal resting on shale, beyond which alluvial soil again covers all.
To the south of this, on the opposite (left) bank of the river, and just above the village of Thitcho, a 2-ft. seam of bright coal is exposed, with broken shale above it and grey shale below. The dip here is also to east at 45°.
Above this in the series of rocks (i.e., down the river) are about 39 feet of fissile sandstone and shale, then 6 inches of coal and I foot 6 inches of grey shale, beyond which the section is concealed on this side of the river. It is probable that one of these seams corresponds to the 2-in. seam seen on the other side.
Further small seams of coal in tributary streams.
Going up the small stream running into the river just above the 10-ft. seam of coal, nothing is seen for the first mile but fine-grained sandstone (sometimes fissile and much broken) and blue, grey, and yellow shales of the same character as those exposed in the main section. About one mile up on the right bank, there is a band of papyraceous coaly shale varying from 4 to 6 inches in thickness, and covered by grey shale streaked with black and containing some threads of bright bituminous coal. This must be some hundreds of feet below the seams exposed in the creek, as from this point the stream runs chiefly east and somewhat north, to its junction with the creek, the dip remaining 45° E. all the way.
About half a mile further up, on the left bank, is a great mass of grey and somewhat carbonaceous shales containing a 10-in. seam of coal, covered with grey shale and having carbonaceous shale below. The dip here is to E. 10°N. at 35°. About 20 feet further up the stream (i.e., below in the series of beds) is another 2-in. seam of coal, and Ico feet further on a seam 1 foot 4 inches thick of coal dipping to east at 45°. These coals are all of the same character, being bright bituminous coals with cuboidal fracture, but containing layers of dull coal. About 50 feet further on, below the series of shales and coal, is some very hard slightly calcareous sandstone, containing impressions of fossil leaves, and in which I also found the internal cast of a gasteropod shell.
There is another small stream flowing into the creek on the left bank above Thitcho village, in which a small seam of coal (1 foot 2 inches) is seen, with clayey shale both above and below it. The dip here is only 35° to E. About a quarter mile further up is another 1-ft. seam of coal. These are both of the same bright bituminous and jointed character.
Up the main creek nothing is seen, as far as I went, of any coal; but there must be some further up, as I found small fragments of coal on the sandbanks in the bed of the river.
Down the river also I saw no signs of coal, the greater part of the rocks, where exposed, being hard sandstone.
We have thus within an area of about one square mile ten distinct seams of coal, all, except one, of which are however useless. I was also Number of the seams. informed subsequently to my visit of another exposure at some distance from the river on the left bank. There are probably numerous other
small seams in the neighbourhood, though not in such a favourable position for working as the 10-ft. seam, even if they are of sufficient thickness.
Quality and age of the coal.
The coal appears to be of a fair quality, the great drawback being its friable nature. It contains the numerous small veins and pockets of fossil resin noticed in some of the cretaceous coals of Assam, and the Lenya river coal of Tenasserim, which is a good sign as cretaceous coal is more likely to extend to a distance than the uncertain seams of tertiary age. No pyrites can be detected by optical examination. The position is very favourable for working, being in direct communication with the Chindwin. The best and simplest means of carriage would be by water: the coal would have to be loaded into flats at the pit's mouth, and the navigation down stream would probably not present any great difficulties. Another thing on which the value of the seam depends to a very great extent, is its lateral extension and the depth to which it reaches. In order to test this it will be necessary to put down experimental borings, and I have recommended that this should be done as soon as possible.
Value of the seam.
In the borings, it must be remembered that, owing to the high dip of the seam, the coal will appear to be thicker than it really is. Should they give equally favourable results on both sides of the river, I should recommend the mining, at any rate at starting, to be carried on on the left bank, as the Position of the mine. ground is there much flatter, with a small plain between the river and the hills, whereas on the right bank the hills come right down to the river. These preliminary trials should be put down by Government in order to see whether the coal extends to any distance.
The workings which were being carried on at the time of my visit have since
Stoppage of workings.
been stopped by order, as they were not only ruining the future prospects of the place as a mine, but also, owing to their dangerous nature and the consequent fear of the villagers in digging the coal, there might be great difficulty in procuring labour hereafter. These workings consisted of a quarry, which was being driven in along the strike in a southerly direction from the river. There are about 20 feet of a coarse gravel (containing boulders 3 feet to 4 feet in diameter) above the coal. The workmen. removed the upper 7 or 8 feet of the coal, leaving the upper gravel unsupported, which consequently fell down after the coal had been removed for some distance; indeed on one occasion one of the workmen is said to have been crushed to death.
If there was any one with even a slight practical knowledge of the class of work, the danger could be easily avoided by temporary supports and breaking down the heavy stones before they became loose; but even then the place would be ruined for a mine, as the quarry would subsequently become a means of entry for water and necessitate expensive pumping machinery. On this account I recommended that work should be stopped before any more damage was done.
If coal is, however, required for present use it might be obtained by driving an inclined tunnel on the coal from the top of the bank of the stream to the west, which would reach the coal in 20 to 30 yards, and need not incline downward more than 10°. It should be started where the clay forming the bank begins to cover up the sandstone at the corner where the stream, after running east, turns abruptly north
before running into the Kalé creek; and it should be driven due east or the tunnel might be started at any point between this and a line drawn due south from the closed workings; in which case it would be shorter, but the inclination would have to be greater.
Specimens of the coal which I sent for assay in Calcutta were unfortunately burnt on the way, so that I am unable at present to give any opinion as to the value of the fuel, as compared with other known coals; but it burns well, and the engineers and serangs on the steamers using it praise it very highly.
Means of transit.
As regards the means of transit, I should decidedly recommend water carriage, as it is ready to hand. I have not been able to see the creek during the rains, but it would probably be navigable for vessels of light draft during all seasons of the year, and the coal could be floated down to the Chindwin in light draft barges.
From enquiries I made on the spot, and from the information supplied by Captain Raikes (the Deputy Commissioner), it appears that the Supply of labour. supply of labour would be quite equal to the demand when once the people had got accustomed to the class of work, but at first, at any rate, a certain proportion of skilled workmen would have to be imported from India, as the people are quite unused to the style of work. After they had learned the proper way of using ordinary mining tools, &c., this imported labour could be to a great extent dispensed with. At present the only tool they use is a kind of rough spud, such as they use for agricultural purposes.
An efficient European staff would also have to be provided, on whom the success of the enterprise would in a great measure depend.
Disposition by the inhabitants.
The rocks in which Age of coal rocks.
The attitude of the surrounding people at the time of my visit was quite friendly and obliging. But, owing to their primitive state, their behaviour would probably depend to a great extent on the disposition of, and the orders or hints received from, the Sawbwa. the coal occurs appear, from the presence of fossil resin, and thus by analogy with the cretaceous coal of Assam, which also contains a similar resinous substance, which is characteristic of the cretaceous coals of that region, to be of cretaceous age.1 The sandstones exposed lower down the creek and in the Chindwin are of lower tertiary, or more probably partly tertiary and partly upper cretaceous age; but I was unable to see enough of the country to determine their age with any degree of certainty. Opposite to Monywa, at a distance of about 3 miles to the west of the river, there is a hill formed of petrosiliceous volcanic rocks. In this hill, which is known as the Letpadaung Taung, there are the remains of a copper mine, which was formerly worked by Oo Chaung, the younger brother of the Kinwoon Mingyi. Whether he ever obtained any large quantity of copper I was unable to find out, but I should think it very unlikely that the output was at all considerable, as the only traces of copper now extant consist of a few stains of green carbonate. The presence of the volcanic rocks is, however, interesting as forming a further link in the volcanic chain run
1 Records, G. S. I., XVI, p. 165.
2 My attention was called to this locality by Mr. D. Ross, Assistant Commissioner, Alon, who visited the spot with me.
ning north through Narkondam and the extinct volcano of Paopadaung, visited many years ago by Mr. W. T. Blanford1 who pointed out that Paopa was the continuation to the north of the great eastern line of volcanic outbursts running through the Eastern Archipelago.
2. THE PANLAUNG COAL FIELD."
The Panlaung river takes its rise near Singulèbyin, and flows northwards by a tortuous course till it eventually joins the Myitngè river, just before its junction with the Irrawaddy near Ava.
Position of the coal field.
The Panlaung coal field is situated on the right bank of the river, near its junction with the Myittha (which flows past Pyinyaung, the first post out of Hlaingdet, on the Shan Hill road). On the map of Upper Burma (1 inch = 16 miles), second edition, published by the Surveyor-General of India, the coal region is not marked as such, but it is situated in the neighbourhood of the spot marked Taungnga village (Lat. 21° 3' N., Long. 96° 24' E.), nearly opposite the village of Pachaung (or Petkyaung). In the present state of the country it was impossible to make more than a very
Impossibility of exploring the country thoroughly in its present
superficial examination of the coal, as no supplies were obtainable except from Hlaingdet, a distance of 30 to 40 miles by road, and coolies were unwilling to visit that part of the country. The region is very wild and there are no inhabited villages, all the inhabitants having retired from fear of dacoits, who have harassed them in former years, to the jungles, where they subsist upon such jungle roots, fruits, and other food as they can procure. They were, however, at the time of my visit, recovering from their state of alarm, as the country is now quieter than it has been for years in some parts they have sown paddy; and the Thugyi of Minpalaung `or Membaloung told me that he proposed shortly to rebuild his village and live there again. When the country has settled down, it would be possible to make a closer examination of the coal, though its unhealthiness would always make this a difficult matter; while at least a whole working season would be necessary for the purpose. The coal is exposed in the beds of the streams running into the Panlaung on the right bank, and in the hillsides to the east of the river. I was only able to visit the more accessible of the groups of outcrops, of which the following is a list :
Various outcrops of coal.