Image of mine operations, circa 1863. Albert County Museum

A Short History of New Brunswick Mining

New Brunswick has a long-standing, rich history of mining. The province is a proven producer of world-class mines and has consistently achieved global recognition as a leader among mining jurisdictions. The diverse geology, which is rich in mineral potential, including base metals, precious metals, potash and salt, as well as other industrial aggregates, peat, and hydrocarbons is the foundation for the humble province’s world-class rankings in the mining world.

Edge Exploration Inc. wanted to share some New Brunswick’s exciting history, so we compiled this short history of New Brunswick Mining for you to enjoy.

Some Notable Dates in New Brunswick Mining

1782 – Coal mined in vicinity of Grand Lake, New Brunswick.

1847-48 – Gypsum mining operations commenced near Hillsbourough ,New Brunswick.

1912 – Natural gas production commenced in Stony Creek field, New Brunswick.

1931 – New Brunswick Power Commission plant came into operation in September, using Minto

1943 – Dominion Steel & Coal Co. made shipments of iron ore from Bathurst, New Brunswick;
closed late in year.

Lime Quarries, Saint John

Over time the limestone of the Green Head Group was metamorphosed into marble. It has been mined since the late 1700s from many quarries near Saint John. The marble was used in limited amounts as a building stone, but more commonly to make lime. Quicklime is produced by heating limestone in a lime kiln and used to make mortar.  The quicklime was used locally for constructing stone buildings and exported to Nova Scotia and New England.

New Brunswick Mining

During the 1800s the lime business was booming. Provincial Geologist Abraham Gesner reported as many as nineteen kiln sites in operation in the early 1800s. Quarries operated at numerous locations. Prominent quarry locations include Green Head Island, near the Reversing Rapids Suspension Bridge, the Pokiok and Purdy & Greene quarries in north Saint John, and Torryburn in east Saint John.

The Armstrong Quarry on Green Head was one of the last historic lime kiln operations in southern New Brunswick. Remains of the quarry, kiln foundations, wharf timbers and foundation walls of homes can still be seen. Joseph and Frank Armstrong, whose lime product was known throughout the Maritimes for its quality, operated the quarry for many years.

Much of the lime from the Armstrong Quarry was used locally. Buildings like the Old Post Office built on Prince William Street in Uptown Saint John after the Great Fire of 1877 were mortared using Green Head lime.

Joseph Armstrong was noted in newspapers of the day as a pioneer in the development of the lime industry that was worth almost $100,000 in export trade by 1889. He lived with his family on Green Head near the quarry. The quarry is an historic reminder of a mining industry that supported southern New Brunswick’s economy throughout much of the nineteenth century.

The lime industry still survives in southern New Brunswick, quarrying the same Ashburn Formation marble that has been exploited for more than 200 years. Today the most visible reminder of the industry is located in Torryburn, near where the Lawlor Quarry was in the 19th century. Today it operates as the Brookville Manufacturing Company making agricultural lime and crushed stone.

The Abandoned Mines of New Brunswick

There are more than 375 mine openings at 63 separate mine sites in New Brunswick.

Brunswick Smelter

The Brunswick Smelter is a primary lead/silver smelter located at 692 Main Street in Belledune, NB and is owned by Glencore. The facility was originally commissioned in 1966 by East Coast Smelting. The Brunswick Smelter was originally designed as a lead-zinc smelter to produce metallic lead and zinc from concentrates produced locally at the Brunswick Mine Site located 35 kilometers south of Bathurst. The facility also formerly included a fertilizer plant (which closed in 1995). The fertilizer plant initially produced a monoamonium phosphate product and later di-ammonium phosphate product, using by- products from the smelting process. 

Bathurst Mining Map

In March 2013, the Brunswick Mine Site officially ceased operation, resulting in the elimination of the main feedstock for the Brunswick Smelter. The Facility remained operational until December 2019 by importing a variety of feedstocks, continuing to operate as a primary lead smelter with a reported production capacity of 120,000 tonnes per year. 

The Brunswick Smelter facility includes the Smelter Area, Material Handling West Area (MHW), and the Fertilizer Plant located north of Highway 134 in Belledune, NB (collectively referred to as the “Site” or “Facility”). 

Lake George

Lake George is a polymetallic mineral deposit and formerly the largest antimony producer in North America. The geology is an Early Devonian granodiorite stock, perhaps about 412 million years old, produced as part of a volcanic island arc setting. A ‘stock’ is used to describe a small igneous intrusion, perhaps an offshoot from a larger granitic body below. Stocks may have been vents feeding volcanoes. Quartz veins containing stibnite and molybdenite cut the Lake George granodiorite stock.

Lake George Antimony Mine
Lake George Antimony Mine

In 1863 Loring Bailey undertook a survey of minerals and mining for the New Brunswick government. One of the places he visited was the Lake George antimony mine near Fredericton that had been discovered two years earlier by Saint John prospector John Henneberry. Bailey was enthusiastic about the potential for mining antimony ore, but less than impressed with the mining operations in progress. Sources of antimony included both the mineral stibnite and native antimony.

William M. Luff, Brunswick Mining and Smelting Corporation Limited

The Bathurst area has recorded mining production as early as 1837, although the bulk of the production has come in recent years. Production has been mainly from the well-known massive sulphide deposits, but vein, gossan, and a variety of other deposits have also been mined. This paper summarizes the history of the mined deposits, along with tonnages and grades produced. A number of “firsts” have been noted in the Bathurst area.

The A Zone deposit, located in the Heath Steele area, was the first in the world discovered using airborne electromagnetic methods. Heap leaching of gold from the gossan zone at Caribou was the first operation of its kind in Canada. The Keymet mine was the first base metal (lead-zinc) mine in New Brunswick. For the past few years, the Brunswick No. 12 mine has been one of the largest zinc mines in the world.

Chester Copper Deposit

The Chester Copper Property was formerly known as the Clearwater project and located about 15 miles to the southwest of the former Heathe Steele Mine and about 35 miles northwest of Newcastle was discovered by Kennco Exploration in 1955. The ore zones dip under the Clearwater stream, a tributary of the Sevogle River.

Subsequently the claim group was acquired by the Chesterville Mines limited in the late 50’s who performed geophysical surveys and diamond drilling on the property which indicated a sizeable copper deposit. In 1966 the Sullivan Mining Group optioned the property and carried out 10,000 feet of Diamond drilling.

In 1967 the Sullivan Mining Group exercised its option and formed the Chester Mines Limited. Their plan was to put the mine into production. Subsequently they completed 1700 feet of ramp and u/g development. By 1972 the price of Copper had fallen and the project was shelved

The Chester Copper Property now consists of a total of 114 contiguous mineral Claims units located in the southern edge of the Bathurst Mining Camp (BMC). It is located approximately 50 kilometres WNW of Miramichi City and approximately 70 kilometres SW of the City of Bathurst. The property is easily accessible from Bathurst via Highway 134 to Miramichi and an all-weather paved road to the property.

The additional claims are located on both the western and southern boundary of the Chester Property. The new claims located on the western boundary cover the western part of a detailed geological mapping, prospecting and soil sampling program that was conducted in 2011 and 2012. A copper soil geochemical anomaly was defined that covers an area approximately 800 m wide in an east-west direction by 1.2 kilometres long in a north-south direction. Additional prospecting found copper mineralization near surface in float and outcrop.

The Woodstock Project

The Woodstock Project is located in western New Brunswick, Canada, approximately 5 km west of the town of Woodstock and 15 km east of the town of Houlton, Maine, USA.  Comprised of Mineral Claim Number 5472, that contains 232 mineral claim units (5,875 ha), it includes the Plymouth Deposit and is 100% owned by CDMN.  CDMN is also the owner of surface rights covering an area of 53 ha within Mineral Claim 5472 that cover a portion of the Plymouth Deposit.

The Woodstock Project is well positioned with respect to infrastructure. In addition to proximity to several towns and the provincial capital, a railway line is accessible in nearby Houlton, Maine and grid electrical power is readily accessible. The extensive surface drainage systems present in the Saint John River watershed provide readily accessible potential water sources for incidental exploration use such as diamond drilling.  They also provide good potential as higher volume sources of water such as those potentially required for future mining and milling operations.

Previous Work Programs

In 2010, Tetra Tech (formerly Wardrop Engineering Inc.) was engaged to review and update the two processes that had generated positive operating margins in the earlier work carried out by Witteck. Results of the Tetra Tech study were for internal working purposes only but were succeeded by more comprehensive economic and hydrometallurgical reviews undertaken by Thibault and Associates Ltd. (Thibault).

In 2011, a five-hole (1,040 m) core drilling program was completed and further work by Thibault was focused on bench scale hydrometallurgical testing to confirm and optimize the process for leaching manganese from typical mineralization.

In 2013, 15 additional diamond drill holes were completed (4,082 m) along 7 section lines separated by intervals of approximately 100 m along the length of the deposit.  The drilling programs account for the majority of drill hole and analytical data used in the current mineral resource estimate. However, Mercator also included validated results for 6 surface historical diamond drill holes completed in 1985 and 1987 (1,040 m) and two trenches competed in 1987 by a previous operator that were incorporated as horizontal drill holes.

Albert County Mines

There was considerable effort put into mining copper in New Ireland, Alma, and parts of Elgin. Manganese was mined from 1875 to 1877 at Waterside and from Shepody Mountain beginning in 1860. Bog manganese was harvested in Dawson Settlement from 1897 to 1900. Bog manganese is not mined but is instead harvested. Underground streams carry manganese up to the surface, the manganese is then deposited at an outlet of the stream on the surface.

This manganese then forms into a bog. The manganese harvested from this bog must first be dried before it can be sold. All of the copper and manganese mining operations listed above failed largely due to mismanagement and lack of capital required to make the operations profitable. Manganese was also mined in Elgin for a short period following World War II.

One of the oldest and most important materials mined in Albert County was ordinary stone. One of the earliest storiesof mining in Albert County tells of Thomas Calhoun and his brother William harvesting grindstones from Grindstone Island and shipping them to the United States around 1771. Grindstones were used to grind down metal, for example, they were used to sharpen sword edges. These stones were so valuable that they were traded as currency.

Many beautiful historic buildings in Boston, Halifax, and Saint John were constructed out of stone imported from the stone quarries of Albert County, such as the quarry at Mary’s Point. Since many of these quarries were located near the Petitcodiac River or the Bay of Fundy it was easy to transport these heavy stone blocks by ship. Recently when a historic building in Halifax was being rebuilt new stones for the reconstruction had to be obtained from the old quarry at Mary’s Point to ensure the authenticity of the building was maintained.

Mount Pleasant Mine

A tungsten-molybdenum-bismuth-tin mine started at the end of 1983. Located 35 miles SW of Fredericton. Formerly owned by Billiton Canada (Brunswick Tin Mines, Ltd. & Billiton) now by Adex Mining Co.. This is the cotype locality for petrukite, the second reported locality in the world for dzhalindite, and a locality for the very rare minerals jeanbandyite and zairite. It is also the first Canadian report of plumbogummite and plumboferrite.

Several of the minerals have so far only been reported from the till: anglesite, beudantite, eulytine, plumboferrite, plumbogummite, and zairite. It is the world’s largest reserve of indium.

With a diverse geology and longstanding history in mining and ongoing and upcoming projects on the horizon, New Brunswick is the ideal place for mining investment.


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