|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
Establishment and Functions
Prior to 1860, the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475) had been responsible for the administration of the goldfields and associated mining activities. In November 1860 a Commissioner of Mines was appointed and a Department was established under his administration. For the period November 1861 to June 1863, the Postmaster General was responsible for the Mining Department. A Minister of Mines was again appointed in 1863.
The major responsibilities of the Department of Mines were:
regulation of mining and related activities through the issue of miners rights, business and residence licences, mining leases, mineral and other prospecting licences
superintendence of the activities of mining surveyors, registrars, wardens and Mining Boards (see VRG 25 Mining Districts for more information on these offices and agencies)
investigation of the state's geological structure, mineral wealth and underground water resources
development of the mining industry
supervision of the safe working of mines, machinery and quarries including the credentialling of mine managers, inspectors and operators
regulation of the disposal of sludge and other waste products
administration of the Victorian Mining Accident Relief Fund.
Arising from its initial responsibility for the supply of water on the gold fields, the Department became responsible for rural water supply from the mid 1860s. Statutory responsibility for rural water works during this period rested with the Board of Land and Works (VA 744). In 1865 the Waterworks Act gave the Board power to construct waterworks, purchase land, levy charges and lease or sell works, while the Public Loans Act 1865 empowered it to provide loans to local water trusts for waterworks. The actual administration of these statutory provisions was undertaken by the Victorian Water Supply Department (VA 2787) which operated from 1865 to 1889 as a sub-department of the Department of Mines, from 1889 as a department in its own right, and from 1895 to 1909 as a sub-department of the Department of Mines and Water Supply (VA 2720). For a brief period from 1891 to 1893 the Department of Mines was also responsible for forests and, until 1880, for the Schools of Mines subsequently transferred to the Education Department (VA 714).
In 1895 the Department of Mines and the Victorian Water Supply Department (VA 2787) were amalgamated to form the Department of Mines and Water Supply (VA 2720).
Location of Records
Record holdings are patchy but include long runs of mining title records. See also List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, section 3.13.2.