The Pilou mine chimney
This 1,000 XPF stamp issue, designed by André Lavergne and intaglio printed, pays tribute to New Caledonia’s built heritage by featuring the chimney of the disused Pilou copper mine located in the Poum area in the far northwest of the Main Island, and.
After prospector Louis Equoy discovered a copper deposit on the left bank of the Diahot River, the Pilou mine was registered on 2 October 1884 and immediately purchased by John Higginson. The mine was operated from 1886 to 1931 by four mining companies.
From 1886 to 1891, initial mine development was undertaken by the Northern Mining Company of New Caledonia, headed by Higginson and Pelatan, with work carried out by a convict workforce: galleries were constructed, a steam-driven core drilling system was installed, capable of extracting copper at a depth of 200 metres from the slopes of Mount Pilou, a railway was laid to transport ore to the river, and furnaces were built for smelting and matte production.
From 1895 to 1902, mine operation was taken over by the International Copper Corporation, which carried out further work (two rail tracks and two additional reverberatory furnaces), but the cost of matte production gradually outstripped sales price and the company ceased operation. From 1908 to 1910, the New Caledonian Mining Company, headed by descendants of John Higginson, attempted to get the mine running again by creating a new smelter at Dilah but their efforts also proved unsuccessful. Finally, in February 1930, the Diahot Mining Company restarted mining operations but the slump in copper prices led to the mine being shut down for good in June 1931.
Today, visitors can view the chimney and the few relics of the mine which remain. Contact the Poum municipal authorities or the North Province Tourism Office for further details.