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Site visits for sightseers IV

July 31st, 2019

Atlantic Canada’s mining heritage can captivate visitors

by Greg Klein

Atlantic Canada’s mining heritage captivates visitors

Among the Bell Island operations that produced about 81 million tonnes of
iron ore by 1966, this Newfoundland mine gives visitors a glimpse of the past.
(Photo: Bell Island #2 Mine and Community Museum)

 

Our survey of historic mining sites and museums wraps up with a trip through Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador. With places known for precious and base metals as well as mineralogical exotica like salt, fluorspar and asbestos, these Atlantic provinces once hosted a globally important coal and steel industry—important enough to merit military attacks during World War II. Even where mining’s a practice of the past, many people continue to recognize the industry’s influence on their communities.

As usual with these visits, check ahead for footwear and other clothing requirements, for additional info like kids’ age restrictions, and to confirm opening times.

Three previous installments looked at Yukon and British Columbia, the prairie provinces, and Ontario and Quebec.

 

Nova Scotia

 

In a region where the industry goes back nearly 300 years, the Cape Breton Miners Museum tells the stories of coal diggers, their work, lives and community. The scenic six-hectare coastal site also includes a few restored buildings from the company village and the Ocean Deeps Colliery, where retired miners lead underground/undersea tours to offer first-hand accounts of a miner’s life. The museum also presents occasional concerts by the Men of the Deeps, made up entirely of people who’ve worked in or around coal mines: “We’re the only choir where the second requirement is that you have to be able to sing.”

Located on Birkley Street north from Route #28, about 1.5 kilometres southeast of downtown Glace Bay. Open daily 10:00 to 6:00 until October 20, with daily tours. Phone 902-849-4522 for off-season hours and tours.

 

Atlantic Canada’s mining heritage captivates visitors

Coal production in the Sydney Mines area dates as far back as 1724.
(Photo: Sydney Mines Heritage Museum)

Farther west along the serrated coast, the Sydney Mines Heritage Museum looks at not only coal extraction but also the time when this town was a major steelmaking centre. Originally a 1905 railway station, the building also houses a transportation exhibit, the Cape Breton Fossil Discovery Centre and a sports museum.

Located at 159 Legatto Street, just north of Main Street (Route #305), Sydney Mines. Open Tuesday to Saturday 9:00 to 5:00 until September 7. Phone 902-544-0992 for Sydney Coalfield fossil field trips held on Thursdays and Saturdays to August 24, weather and tides permitting.

 

About 76 kilometres east of Amherst was Canada’s first industrial source of an edible mineral, now commemorated by the Malagash Salt Mine Museum. This small building features the mine’s off-and-on operations between 1918 and 1959, and the local miners, farmers, fishermen and lumberjacks who worked the deposit until it was replaced by another salt source at nearby Pugwash.

Located at 1926 North Shore Road, east of Route #6, Malagash. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 to 5:00, Sunday noon to 5:00 until September 15. Call 902-257-2407 for more info.

 

In the Annapolis Valley about 95 kilometres southeast of Moncton, the Springhill Miners’ Museum portrays the historically dangerous work that prevailed in these coal mines between the late 1800s and the 1950s. Guides lead underground tours of about an hour’s duration.

Located at 145 Black River Road, about 1.5 kilometres south of Springhill, just east of Route #2. Open daily 9:00 to 5:00, with tours available hourly from 9:00 to 4:00 until October 15. Call 902-597-3449 for more info.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

Atlantic Canada’s mining heritage captivates visitors

Kids tour a mine that once employed boys as young as 10.
(Photo: Bell Island #2 Mine and Community Museum)

Complementing coal from Cape Breton was iron ore from Bell Island in Conception Bay, where six mines operated at various times between 1895 and 1966. The Bell Island #2 Mine and Community Museum hosts exhibits and offers one-hour tours through an underground operation that closed in 1949. Another feature relates the 1942 U-boat attacks at Belle Island that sunk four ore-carrying ships and killed over 60 men, leading to Allied fears that Germany would occupy St. John’s.

Located at 13 Compressor Hill, Bell Island. Open daily 10:00 to 6:00 until September 30. Call 709-488-2880 or toll-free 1-888-338-2880 for more info.

 

A number of mines produced fluorspar between 1933 and 1978 on the Rock’s southern-most peninsula, where Canada Fluorspar hopes to revive the industry. The St. Lawrence Miner’s Memorial Museum recounts workers’ lives, including the danger they faced before the presence of radon gas was recognized. Emphasizing the sacrifice, the neighbouring graveyard can be seen from museum windows. On a more pleasant note, new uses for the colourful mineral can be found in the gift shop’s fluorspar jewelry.

Located on Route #220, east of Memorial Drive, St. Lawrence. Open daily 8:30 to 4:30 until September 1. Call 709-873-3160 for more info.

 

The Baie Verte Miners’ Museum stands above one of six major mines locally, the former Terra Nova copper producer that dates back to the mid-1800s in a north-coastal region that also provided gold, silver and asbestos. On display are mining and mineralogy exhibits and a mining locomotive, along with aboriginal artifacts. Museum tours are available.

Located at 319 Route 410, Baie Verte. Open Monday 10:00 to 4:00, Tuesday to Sunday 9:00 to 6:00 until mid-September. Call 709-532-8090 for more info.

 

The Iron Ore Company of Canada no longer provides tours of its Labrador City facilities but the Gateway Labrador tourism centre offers an alternative—an 18-minute virtual reality experience of IOC’s operations, from mining to processing to delivery at Sept-Îles. Gateway’s museum hosts additional mining exhibits as well as presentations on other industries “to debunk the popular misconception that Labrador West’s history is comprised only of mining.”

Located at 1365 Route #500, Labrador City. Open Monday to Friday 9:00 to 8:00, and Saturday and Sunday 9:00 to 5:00 until mid- or late August. Off-season hours Monday to Friday 9:00 to 5:00. Call 709-944-5399 for more info.

 

See Part 1 about Yukon and British Columbia, Part 2 about the prairie provinces, and Part 3 about Ontario and Quebec.

Site visits for sightseers III

July 26th, 2019

Travel Ontario and Quebec one mining destination at a time

by Greg Klein

Small local museums, historic mines, a major science centre and massive operations demonstrate the industry’s importance and also offer diversions for summer road trips. After covering Yukon and British Columbia in Part 1 and the prairie provinces in Part 2, our survey continues east through Ontario and Quebec. Omitted were museums not primarily devoted to mining, although many do include worthwhile mining memorabilia among other exhibits. Be sure to contact sites to confirm opening times, ask about footwear and other clothing requirements, and inquire about age restrictions if you have little ones in tow.

Part 4 covers the Atlantic provinces.

Ontario

Travel Ontario and Quebec one mining destination at a time

One of many Dynamic Earth attractions
makes mining a family experience.
(Photo: Science North/Dynamic Earth)

Where better than Sudbury for a mining showcase of global stature? Dynamic Earth visitors can don hard hats to tour a demonstration mine seven storeys below surface, or virtual reality headsets to mingle with imaginary miners and gargantuan equipment. Other simulations provide aspiring miners with training on mining equipment and rescue operations. Films, multimedia and interactive exhibits enhance the experience. Much more than a museum, this is an exposition of mining’s past, present and future, with enough attractions to justify repeat visits.

Located at 122 Big Nickel Road, Sudbury. Open daily 10:00 to 6:00 until September 2, then reduced hours until September 29. Reopens for Halloween events on October 4

 

Travel Ontario and Quebec one mining destination at a time

Cobalt’s silver heritage comes alive in the Colonial Adit Tour.
(Photo: Town of Cobalt)

Despite the recent speculative boom sparked by the town’s namesake mineral, Cobalt’s largely a relic of the past—or a collection of relics strewn about the town and surrounding countryside. And it was silver, not cobalt, that made this town so important to Canadian mining history. To experience that history, check out the Cobalt Mining Museum, with seven galleries that include the world’s largest display of native silver. Take a guided tour of the Colonial underground mine, and self-guided tours that show off a nearby route hosting 19 mining-related sites and the town itself, which sometimes looks like a movie setting in search of a movie.

Located at 24 Silver Street, Cobalt. Open daily 10:00 to 4:00 until September 2, then Tuesday to Friday 11:00 to 3:00 during fall and winter. Call 705-679-8301 to book the one-hour Colonial Adit Tour.

 

Travel Ontario and Quebec one mining destination at a time

Visitors find themselves engrossed in Red Lake’s mining story.
(Photo: Red Lake Regional Heritage Centre)

After the 1926 rush that spawned something like 29 mines, the town’s still churning out yellow metal at one of Canada’s largest gold operations. In recognition, the Red Lake Regional Heritage Centre’s permanent exhibit presents Beneath It All: Red Lake’s Mining Story, with displays, films and audio clips.

Located at 51A Highway #105, Red Lake. Open Monday to Friday 9:00 to 5:00 year-round, also open summer Saturdays 10:00 to 4:00 until August 31.

 

Travel Ontario and Quebec one mining destination at a time

A former mica mine, Silver Queen can evoke a sense of wonder.
(Photo: Ontario Parks)

About 115 crow-flying klicks southwest of Ottawa, the Silver Queen Mine was one of hundreds of operations in a world centre of mica production. Visitors to Murphys Point Provincial Park can descend 20 metres underground and also check out an open pit on either guided or self-guided trips.

Tours leave from the Lally Homestead at Murphys Point, off Highway #21. Guided trips take place Wednesday evenings at 8:30 p.m. and Friday mornings at 10:00 a.m., self-guided tours from 10:00 a.m. to noon on Sundays until September 1. Call 613-267-5060 for reservations, fall hours and other info.

 

Quebec

Travel Ontario and Quebec one mining destination at a time

Tourists explore Lamaque’s birthplace in the valley of gold.
(Photo: Corporation du Village minier de Bourlamaque)

This might be the best place to begin an historical pilgrimage to Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Just over a kilometre southwest of Eldorado Gold’s Lamaque and on the eastern edge of Val-d’Or sits la Cité de l’Or, with the original Lamaque mine and Bourlamaque Mining Village. A four-hour tour takes visitors 91 metres underground before viewing a number of surface buildings, while an express two-hour tour explores the underground mine and a laboratory. An audio guide tour also covers the town, with still-occupied 1930s to ’40s-era log houses and a 1949 home-turned-museum. La Cité also offers Gold in our Veins, a permanent exhibit about mining life and, en français seulement, a geocaching rally.

Located at 90 avenue Perrault, Val-d’Or. Open daily 8:00 to 5:30 to August 31, Wednesday to Sunday 8:30 to 5:00 in September, Thursday to Sunday 8:30 to 3:00 in October. Phone to inquire about off-season visits from November to May. Call 819-825-1274 or toll-free 1-855-825-1274 for tour reservations and other info.

 

Travel Ontario and Quebec one mining destination at a time

Malartic’s sheer scale can be appreciated from an observation deck.
(Photo: Abitibi-Témiscamingue Mineralogical Museum)

Twenty-five kilometres west of Val-d’Or, the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Mineralogical Museum offers displays about regional geology and mining, and interactive exhibits as well as tours to one of the world’s largest gold producers, the Agnico Eagle/Yamana Gold Canadian Malartic mine, a technological marvel with some really big machines rumbling around.

Located at 650 rue de la Paix, Malartic. Open Tuesday to Sunday until September. Call 819-757-4677 for opening hours and reservations.

 

Watch as molten copper flows at Glencore’s Horne smelter in Rouyn-Noranda. Guides lead visitors through a museum and into the heart of one of the world’s most specialized plants.

Located at 1 Carter Avenue, Rouyn-Noranda. Tours begin Monday to Sunday at 9:00, 10:30, 1:30 and 3:00 until mid-August. Call 819-797-3195 or 1-888-797-3195 for reservations. Not suitable for pregnant women.

 

Travel Ontario and Quebec one mining destination at a time

Visitors get in the spirit at Thetford Mines.
(Photo: Musée minéralogique et minier de Thetford Mines)

About 107 kilometres south of Quebec City in a building sheathed with an asbestos-cement coating, le Musée minéralogique et minier de Thetford Mines depicts the history, geology and mineralogy of an area where mining began in 1876. Tours take visitors around buildings, open pits and mountains of tailings left over from the now-banned practice of asbestos extraction.

Located at 711 Frontenac Boulevard West (Highway #112), Thetford Mines. Open daily 9:00 to 5:00 to September 2, off season Tuesday to Friday 9:00 to 4:00, weekends 1:00 to 5:00. Summer mine tours begin at 1:30. Call 418-335-2123 for reservations.

 

One of three nearby former copper producers in the Eastern Townships, the Capelton Mine welcomes visitors to an operation that lasted from 1863 to 1907. One tour travels by wagon to the mine entrance, another offers a gold panning experience. Additional attractions include a small museum and a bike path through the mine site.

Located at 5800 Capelton Road (Highway #108), North Hatley. Call 819-346-9545 or 1-888-346-9545 for reservations.

See Part 1 about Yukon and British Columbia, Part 2 about the prairie provinces and Part 4 about the Atlantic provinces.

The Quebec election

September 5th, 2012

Does the new regime signal a new regimen for mining?

by Greg Klein

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Providence and politics have made Quebec one of the world’s most favourable mining jurisdictions. But yesterday’s provincial election might cause concern to industry players and investors alike. The new Parti Quebecois government wants to scale back a northern infrastructure program, curtail foreign takeovers and introduce an Australian-style royalty scheme.

The big question is whether the PQ can gain needed support for its agenda. The separatist party won 54 seats, nine shy of a majority government. The Liberals came close with 50 seats but lost their nine-year hold on power. A new party, Coalition Avenir Quebec (Coalition for Quebec’s Future), took the spoiler’s slot with 19 seats while Quebec Solidaire picked up just two seats.

Outside the province, media campaign coverage focused on the PQ’s dream of forming an independent country. Election night was marred by a man in a housecoat who shot two people at the PQ victory celebration, killing one of them.

Does the new regime signal a new regimen for mining?

Does the new regime signal a new regimen for mining?

Mineral exploration and mining figured strongly in the month-long election campaign.

The separatist issue, always present in Quebec, doesn’t look especially prominent now. During the campaign PQ leader Pauline Marois stated she won’t call a sovereignty referendum unless she’s sure of success. Two August polls showed support for separatism dropping from 40% to 28%, a far cry from the 49.4% who voted to leave Canada in a 1995 referendum. But Marois, a political veteran with 31 years’ experience who held 14 cabinet posts in the PQ government that ruled from 1994 to 2003, has other means of pushing the party’s left-wing nationalist policies.

She wants to “redo” Plan Nord. The massive northern infrastructure program was intended to be former Liberal premier Jean Charest’s legacy. Charest talked of spending $2.1 billion of public money on an economic dynamo that would attract a total of $80 billion in private and public investment over 25 years, creating 20,000 jobs in mining, hydro-electricity, forestry and tourism above the 49th parallel, an area covering 72% of Quebec’s territory. Marois, while not opposing Plan Nord, says $2.1 billion constitutes a giveaway to private companies.

If there were giveaways in Charest’s plan, however, they flowed in different directions. The Liberals’ Bill 65 would have designated 12% of the land north of 49 exempt from development by 2015. That percentage would have increased to 20% by 2020 and 50% by 2036. Quebec’s National Assembly didn’t find time to vote on the bill before the election.

A key economic plank of the PQ platform is Marois’ tax and royalty regimen. She wants a 5% royalty on all minerals extracted, regardless of a company’s profit. And speaking of profits, she’s following the Down Under example by proposing a 30% tax on all mining profits above 8%, which she estimates would extract an additional $388 million from miners over five years.

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