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The Mining Scene

Introduction by the Editor:
“Having worked underground on Keno Hill near Mayo, Yukon and as a diamond driller, (with Boyles Bros.) I gained an appreciation of the mining industry early in life. Being born in Dawson City of Klondike Gold Rush fame, I became famliar with many aspects of gold mining. Realizing the mining industry's importance to the BC Scene, I am proud to provide our readers with background information on the key players in this important arena. Since the name 'Cominco' has been almost a household word for many decades, we've included a brief introduction to the company.” (
scroll or click)

Canadian Mining Hall of Fame
This facility is a tribute the the history of an industry we have enjoyed being a part of. Itemized on this page (
scroll or click) are a few details about the mining indfustry; there is more on the Hall of Fame web site

BC Mining Museum at Brittania Beach
by Jerry W. Bird

Those who marvel at history and man's ingenuity will discover a real treasure at Britannia Beach, a few scenic miles along the cliff-hugging route of the Sea to Sky Highway between Vancouver and Whistler, BC. Here on the shores of Howe Sound, British Columbia's mining heritage is preserved intact at the Britannia Copper Mine, which served world markets from 1888 to the 1970s.

Survivor of fire, flood and avalanche, this hardy community harbors a national treasure, and has become a favorite location for major motion pictures. In a word - awesome! Little wonder most motorists make an abrupt stop for a close encounter, many staying for several hours of fun and exploration. For history buffs like me, the BC. Museum of Mining and adjacent area is a destination all by itself. In the boom days of the 1920s and '30s, Britannia was the largest producer of copper ore in the British Empire- a jewel in her imperial crown. Today, it's a National Historic Site destined to become a world-class venue for mining, geology and social history, thanks to a recent restoration program.'

Looming like a centurion at the entrance is a mammoth 235-ton Wabco "Super Truck" - part of a fleet which revolutionized low-grade mining worldwide. Guided tours begin with "The Britannia Story," featured in rock displays, ore samples, realistic models, maps, drawings, documents and artifacts. Along with the dramatic portrayal of hard-rock mining and other methods used in the province, you get a feeling for the human side of the industry, reflected in the life and times of workers and families. Displays on two other levels present an overview of British Columbia's rich mining heritage, plus a showcase on Craigmont, a copper mine in central BC. near Smithers.

While the dominant physical feature at Britannia Beach is the mine's enormous concentrator building, which sprawls for eight levels up the cliff side, the true highlight is your journey underground . The mine train (which once toted its own privy) takes your group into the mountainside where you'll witness the "tried and true," as well as more current methods of drilling, blasting, mucking, sluicing and rock stabilization.

Emerging from the mine, you'll have a close-up look inside the immense gravity-fed concentrator - a spectacular sight, and a regional landmark for more than 75 years. During peak operations, this monstrous complex processed more than 7,000 tons of ore daily, and is the only facility of its kind in North America still accessible to the public.

At the "Mining House", where all tours begin and end, you'll be treated to a "magic lantern" show - a slide presentation which traces Britannia's colorful history, recapping your experience inside the heart of Mt. Sheer.

A walking tour includes the Assay Office, containing a variety of rock creations donated for auction this fall. Across the way stands the "Ritz Hotel" and assorted mine buildings under restoration. As a token of your visit, the museum offers complimentary drill core samples, many of which date prior to the first world war. Later you can try gold panning.

The BC Museum of Mining is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. , Wednesdays through Sundays and legal holidays - from May until October. Britannia Beach is 45 minutes from Vancouver, and is served by Maverick Coach Lines (5 times daily) and by BC Rail.

During tourist season, there's a likely chance you'llspot BC's most famous locomotive - The Royal Hudson, an elegant steam train, which connects with the tour ship Britannia for an exciting day trip from Vancouver to nearby Squamish.

Another reminder of an earlier era at Britannia's dockside was the SS Prince George, once a proud member of Canadian National's Alaska fleet. Part of the "Britannia Opportunity" plan, is a pocket cruise dock, public pier and marina, along with an integrated transportation depot. The community features craft shops, an impressive live-action display of native Indian stone sculpture and several dining spots. We enjoyed a grand home-cooked meal recently, topped by a miner's sized slab of lemon meringue pie at the Tea Shop, a cozy corner of Canadiana.

BC. Museum of Mining, Box 188, Britannia Beach, BC VON 1JO. phone(604) 688-8735., fax (604) 892-9152

Teck Cominco is a Canadian-based integrated natural resource group whose principal activities are mining, smelting and refining. The group mines zinc, copper, molybdenum, gold and metallurgical coal in the U.S.A., Canada, Peru and Australia. The group's production of refined metals includes zinc, lead, gold, and silver. In addition, the group produces specialized metal products, including indium, germanium and low-alpha powders of lead, tin and special alloys used in the high technology sector. Other products include cadmium, copper sulphate, copper arsenate, sulphur, sulphuric acid, sulphur dioxide and ammonium sulphate fertilizer.

Strategy & Direction
Teck Cominco will build on its strengths, which are its leadership position in zinc and its commodity diversification. The merged company will possess strong exploration, mining and processing skills which arise from its broad spread of activities. It will focus on continued financial strength and discipline. It will maintain a strong balance sheet. Above all, Teck Cominco will strictly adhere to achieving its cost of capital at low metal prices in order to achieve an adequate return to its shareholders. Teck Cominco will strive to earn the reputation of being a good employer and an environmentally and socially responsible mining company.

Registered and Head Office
Teck Cominco Limited
600 - 200 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6C 3L9
Tel.: (604) 687-1117, Fax: (604) 687-6100

Corporate Communications
Phone: (604) 844-26, Fax: (604) 685-3019

Investor Relations
Phone: (604) 687-1117, Fax: (604) 687-6100

Operating Mines/ Canada
Sullivan Mine, Kimberley, BC
Highland Valley Copper, Logan Lake, BC
Bullmoose Mine, Tumbler Ridge, B.C.
Elkview Mine, Sparwood, B.C. Louvicourt Mine, Val d'Or, Quebec
Williams Mine/ David Bell Mine Marathon, Ontario
Polaris Mine, Little Cornwallis Island, Polaris, Nunavut

Metal Production
Trail Operations, Trail, BC

Research Centres
Cominco Research, Trail, BC

Web site:


History of Mining in Canada
Records of Samuel de Champlain's early explorations of the New World about 1604 refer to copper minerals in the area now called the Gaspé. The site eventuallywas developed into the giant Mines Gaspé, owned by Noranda Mining and Exploration Inc.

The first coal mine in Canada was started in 1720 on Cape Breton Island.

The first iron was smelted at the Forges St. Maurice just north of Trois Rivieres, Quebec, in 1737. The production of items such as stoves and pots was important to life in Canada, and the mines and processing plant became an important employer in the area, until the plant closed in 1883. The site has been restored as a museum and is well worth visiting.

Gold was discovered in Quebec in 1823, British Columbia in 1852, Nova Scotia in 1860, Ontario in 1866, the Yukon in 1896. Prospectors looking for favourable rock formations in the bush made the early discoveries; now people skilled in geology and geophysics use complex technology to find these formations deepbeneath the surface.

Asbestos has been mined in the Eastern Townships of Quebec since 1878.

An exceptionally rich lead-zinc orebody was discovered in 1893 in the East Kootenays, British Columbia. The Sullivan Mine is still in production. A copper-zinc orebody of similar value was discovered near Timmins, Ontario, in 1964.

Copper-nickel ore was discovered near Sudbury in 1883 by a doctor who was looking for a man lost in the bush. The ore also contains gold, silver, platinum, cobalt and other valuable minerals, contributing immensely both to the economy and the quality of life in Canada.

Two railway tie contractors discovered veins of almost pure silver at Cobalt, Ontario in 1903. Eventually more than 100 mines came into production, and much of the wealth generated was used to find and develop mines in other parts of Canada.

Major deposits of iron were found in Northern Ontario around 1900 but this was wilderness area and it wasn't until the 1950s that significant development took place. At about the same time vast discoveries of iron were being made on the Quebec-Labrador border and the Iron Ore Company of Canada started a major construction project, including railroads, townsites, production and processing facilities.

Also about 1950 uranium deposits were found in Saskatchewan and Ontario. At the height of the Cold War, uranium was a strategic material for the UnitedStates and the mines were rushed into production. Now uranium is used to produce electricity in many countries around the world.

Canada now produces 60 kinds of metals and minerals, classified for statistical purposes as metals, non-metallics, structural materials and fuels. In terms of value, the most important metals are gold, copper, iron ore, zinc and nickel. Cement, sand and gravel, which are combined to make concrete, are valuable structural materials, while salt, asbestos and peat are the most valuable non-metallics. Fuel minerals - oil, gas and coal - now make up 63 percent of the value of mineralsproduced in Canada. The search for valuable minerals led to the population of the more remote areas of Canada.

A geological map showing the principal mineral areas is available from Natural Resources Canada. The role of the Canadian government in the development of Canada's mining industry has been very important, beginning with the establishment of the Geological Survey (in 1841, under Sir William Logan), then the Department of Mines (in 1907), the Geodetic Survey (in 1909), and continuing today with Natural Resources Canada. Provincial governments have had their own resources ministries also making significant contributions.