Lloyd Samuel Jones, mining engineer.
b. Dunedin, February 6, 1917; d Wellington, August 26, 2005.
LLOYD JONES, 88, was, above all, a character – a representative of a tough ‘breed of mining men, once common in this country, but alas, now, all too rare.
A man with a forceful personality who called a spade a “bloody shovel”, usually in a loud voice which could be heard a block or two away – or in his case, perhaps reverberating down a mining adit.
He was no respecter of persons or place and would state his strongly held views as forcibly to a minister of the Crown as to a minister of religion, with no concessions to either.
Mr Jones was a graduate of the once world-famous Otago School of Mines in 1938, and his first job after graduation (he had gained practical experience on the West Coast during his course) was as a mining engineer in the Malaysian and Thai tin fields, prospecting for and mining tin lodes in often mountainous and remote country.
In 1940,more or less untroubled by the war, he was test-drilling for alluvial tin behind a tin dredge, when on his way back to camp he was “bushwacked” by several Thai policemen, who handed him over to the Japanese who had invaded the country.
Though he was a civilian, after passing through several jails and camps, in 1942 he ended up in the notorious Changi Jail in Singapore, and later spent the last three months of the Pacific war in Syme Road jail, paralysed, unable to speak and near death from beriberi.
One of the few benefits from this period of incarceration was that he became an accomplished bridge player, and his enthusiasm for and skill at this game lasted almost till the day he died.
Another benefit was a significant sum of compensation negotiated on his and other civilian internees behalf by the British Government, which he received a few years after the war – to his complete surprise
Mr Jones staged a full and robust recovery and returned to New Zealand to work at the Blackwater gold mine near Reefton, now in the process of being evaluated for reopening.
Though qualified to be a staff engineer, he earned (and probably learned) more working as a miner underground, enabling him to receive his mine manager’s certificate.
At the same time, he met and subsequently married his wife Marjorie Stephen, daughter of the mine manager.
In 1949 he became a Mines Inspector in Queensland, returning to the West Coast in 1954 where he became the local mines inspector, a post he held for the next nine years.
In 1963 he was appointed Chief Inspector of Mines, based in Wellington, and he held this post till his retirement in 1982.
His office was on the fifth floor of Anvil House- my first introduction to him in 1966 was when I heard his loud voice, discussing some supposedly confidential matter, echoing down the stairwell to the floor below.
During this period he presided over many major mining and related developments such as the Manapouri tunneling project, Kaimai railway tunnel, development of the Maui gas-field, discovery of uranium in the Buller Gorge, and many others, always bringing a practical, experienced, and common-sense approach to legislative and other problems.
A number of ministers of mines relied heavily on Mr Jones for advice, sometimes asked for, but often not.
Mr Jones was also extremely active in the AusIMM (Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy), an organisation that today has more than 7000
In 1966 he was instrumental in forming a New Zealand branch of this body. It now has more than 180 members. A foundation committee member, he held the post of secretary of the branch for 32 years, and was chairman for one year.
He was a fierce defender of New Zealand’s position in the activities of this prestigious body,and a great promoter of mining student education, attending a huge number of conferences in Australia and New Zealand during this time, invariably making a major contribution.
In 1987 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the institute.
He is survived by son !an and daughter Peta, and their respective families in Melbourne and Texas.
By Bruce Utting