AN ADDRESS BY JAS. MACINTOSH BULL,
O.B.E., PH.D., LL.D.
Thursday, 17th February, 1927
COLONEL ALEXANDER FRASER presided, and in introducing the speaker referred to the eminence he had attained to in his profession and to the extraordinary success with which his operations in the Ontario mining field had already been crowned.
DR. MACINTOSH BULL said : Most Canadians appreciate the vast dimensions of their country, the immense agricultural productivity of the Prairies and the fertile lowlands of Quebec and Ontario; the colossal value of our forests, which, despite the inroads of the pulp industry and the more serious depredations of forest fires, still clothe large portions of the mountainous area of British Columbia, the valley of the mighty Mackenzie, and the Northern Highlands of Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba; and the richness of our fisheries, not only in the oceans which wash our shores, but in the numerous inland lakes. How many of us realize, on the other hand, that the potential mineral wealth of Canada represents an asset, still largely untouched, probably greater in its importance than any of these.
Unquestionably, there is no single factor which has done more to encourage the settlement of large areas than the discovery of important mineral deposits. It is common knowledge that the finding of rich gold deposits in California led to the opening up of the great American West, and that similar occurrences precipitated the settlement of the Australian Continent. To come to our own country, the discovery of the Klondike spread knowledge of the grain possibilities of the Prairies, while Cobalt, Kirkland Lake and Porcupine have been largely responsible for the development of an agricultural fringe along the railroads in the Clay Belt of Northern Ontario, and for various other activities, supporting a vigorous population. "California today "-according to de Launay, the great French geologist-" is noted for its farms and orchards, rather than for its ores, but the labor of the mine paved the way for the wagon". You have all heard the expressions : "Not all the gold in the Klondike would tempt me ". In other words, the Yukon has been known the world over as one of the world's greatest gold fields, yet Northern Ontario, in less than half the time, has produced a great deal more.
Canada is richly endowed with deposits of both metallic and nonmetallic minerals, and is now one of the great mineral-producing countries of the world. The growth, while showing inevitable minor recessions, has been generally steady and singularly rapid. In 1925, the total value of the mineral output was about $225,000,000.00, or $25.00 per capita. Ten years earlier, it was about $137,000,000.00, or $17.00 per capita, and in 1886 was only a little over $10,000,000.00, or about $2.25 per capita. We are now the third gold producer in the world, being exceeded only by South Africa and the United States. In 1925, the figures were as follows
United States 47,956,991
Australia and New Zealand 13,914,610
Ontario is Canada's richest mineral province. The value of the output of the metallic mines of the northern part of the province alone, up to the present, has reached the vast total of one billion dollars. Final figures for the year just closed indicate that the value of the production of these for 1926 will reach $61,000,000.00. During the same year the gold and silver mines alone paid dividends of $12,563,745.00, an increase of $2,240,000.00 over the year before. The International Nickel Company distributed $3,881,524.00, and, in addition, the Mond Nickel Company and The Huronian Belt Company paid to their shareholders in Great Britain substantial amounts derived from the Northern mines.
The chief mineral products of Ontario, in the order of their importance, are : Gold, nickel, silver, copper, platinum, and cobalt. The gold production for 1926 will be approximately $31,000,000.00; nickel, copper and platinum approximately $19,500,000.00, and silver, cobalt, arsenic and other elements rather more than $10,000,000.00. Altogether, the production up to the present from the silver camps amounts to the vast total of 350,000,000 ounces, and over $100,000,000.00 have been distributed in dividends. Sudbury, as you probably all know, is much the greatest nickel camp in the world, and incidentally, it is the largest source of platinum metals on the American continent.
Either directly or indirectly, the whole of Ontario derive material advantage from its northern mines. They have employed many thousands of men in the different mining camps, and have engulfed vast stores of supplies of every conceivable sort, which, in large part, have come from the manufacturing towns of the southern part of the province, more especially Toronto. Timmins, the most important of the mining communities, has long since ceased to be merely a collection of rough shacks; it is a respectable-looking town of nearly 15,000 inhabitants. Strangely enough, the towns do not cease with the decline of the mining industry to which they owe their existence. Cobalt today, in a mining sense, is a mere shell of its former grandeur, yet its bankers report they are making greater profits than ever before. After strenuous efforts for years to avoid the outlay, the town was forced to build additions to its public school a year or so ago, and last year had to build a High School.
The mineral wealth of British Columbia is scarcely
less diversified than that of Ontario, and, in addition, it possesses the great advantage of having abundant stores of coal. The total value of the output from its metalliferous veins up to the end of 1925 was about $525,000000.00, or about half that of Ontario, and from its alluvial gold deposits there came a further $77,663,045.00 up to the same date. The largest Copper Smelter in the Empire is situated at Anyox, on the northern coast, operated by the Granby Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company. The Sullivan Mine, at Kimberley, belonging to the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company, is now considered to be the largest lead-zinc mine in the world.
There is not time, in this address, to dwell upon the vast coalfields and the oil and gas resources of the prairies. Suffice it to say that they form an immense source of potential wealth. Apart from its coal deposits, Nova Scotia possesses a variety of metalliferous occurrences, and its gold mining, which has languished in recent years, shows some signs of revival. The peninsula of Gaspe has, among other interesting occurrences, what appear to be large deposits of lead-zinc minerals, now in process of vigorous development.
The mining areas of Northern Ontario, and that of North-Western Quebec, of which we have heard so much lately, occur in what are known geologically as preCambrian rocks. These rocks, which cover more than half of Canada, extend southwards in the United States, and have produced the great iron and copper deposits of the Northern States bordering the southern part of Lake Superior. In Canada they occupy a great U, with its base in the south-central part of Ontario, and its limbs extending north-westward through the eastern parts of Manitoba and Saskatchewan to the shores of the Arctic near the mouth of the Mackenzie, and northeastward to the mouth of the St. Lawrence. By far the greater part of the country to the northward of these rough outlines is composed of preCambrian rocks, and they form, indeed, a vast store of potential mineral wealth. Pre-Cambrian rocks, I may mention, by the way, are the chief source from which is derived the gold, not only of Canada, but of the Transvaal, India, and Western Australia.
The mineral wealth of the pre-Cambrian area of Canada is not inexhaustible, boundless, limitless; no possible mineral resources of any part of the earth can correctly be so described. These are absurd adjectives, the ineptitude of which is transparent to any student of mines. Nevertheless, when one bears in mind that not more than fifteen or twenty percent of the preCambrian rocks, even of Ontario, have been prospected at all, and an infinitely smaller percentage of those of the whole Dominion, one cannot but be struck with the vast possibilities. However, let us be realists, not visionaries; let us speak of these possibilities in their proper perspective. The producing camps of Sudbury, Cobalt, South Lorrain, Gowganda, Kirkland Lake, and Porcupine, lie within a circle having a radius of only 75 miles, and within this circle also comes the Horne Mine of the Noranda, within the Province of Quebec-the greatest recent discovery-soon to become an important producer of gold and copper.
Within recent years a great number of trained prospectors have appeared, led by the lure of the fascinating quest for mineral wealth. Every year sees them penetrating farther and farther into that great wilderness of river, lake and forest of the north, and scarcely a season passes without some real and important discovery being made. The indications of various minerals are extraordinarily widespread, but inevitably and naturally, the concentrations which are of economic importance are not less restricted. The search for these gives zest to mining. No one can say how many new Cobalts, new Porcupines, new Kirkland Lakes may be found, but we can confidently expect great developments, from time to time, which will play an important role in the future of the country. We already know of vast deposits of iron ore on the Belcher Islands of Hudson's Bay, of no less important occurrences of native copper near the Copper Mine River, and of lead-zinc near Great Slave Lake, which are now considered too remote for utilization. But I, for one, look forward to the day when ships of great size will ply up and down the majestic Mackenzie and across the great expanse of Hudson's Bay laden not only with the wares of the fur trader, or with the products of the forest, but with those derived from these great stores of future mineral wealth, which cannot be ignored.
Someone has described a mine as "a hole in the ground with a liar sitting on top". You have no doubt heard that there are three kinds of liars; liars, damned liars, and mining experts. Now, gentlemen, a good many "mines", so-called, are mere "holes in the ground" or not even that, with crooked lawyers and mining thugs, unscrupulous brokers and other such prevaricating gentry associated with their exploitation, but not all mines are of this character. Fundamentally, mining is a clean business, its object being to take wealth from the earth and make it available for the common good, and many earnest, reputable men of all professions are associated with this great basal industry. There has, however, been a tendency among the big financial interests of Canada to fail to realize what her mineral resources mean; to be unfamiliar with these great activities which are adding so much to our national wealth. There has been an unrespectable flavour, as far as mines are concerned, in the palates of our reputable business men. This attitude has been highly unfortunate, but it cannot be considered inexplicable, when one bears in mind that many of the earlier mining ventures in Ontario and elsewhere were not attended by success, and that inevitably a fundamentally speculative business has its satellites who know next to nothing about mining, but who are adepts at gulling a guileless public. Happily, and, if I may say so, very wisely, the point of view of our business men towards mining is changing. It is recognized that a mine does not mean a hole in the ground in which much good money disappears but none ever emerges, nor that a mining company is irretrievably disreputable. Much of the charm of mining, in a sense, lies in its speculative aspect, but the shares of a carefully managed mining company, more particularly one with a diversity of interests, or one well established, need not be less certain of a sure return, than those of the best run industrial concern. The number of people who are gambling in and have done well out of mining stocks, is quite extraordinary, but whereas this alluring speculative aspect cannot be entirely separate from the industry, it is not the point of view we want to encourage; rather we require, and fortunately are getting, powerful companies and groups with strong financial backing interested in the industry, examining and exploring a considerable number of mineral prospects, after careful technical consideration, any one of which may make good on such a large scale as to amply recoup the concern for its expenditure on the others.
In spite of all the financial vicissitudes through which Great Britain has passed as a result of her whole-hearted support of the Wortd War from its very inception, I suppose London is still the greatest mining market in the world. Her capitalists own or control the fortunes of mines in every corner of the globe; her engineers, even in these days of a greatly restricted national purse, are continually on the look-out for new mineral properties; the offices of her mining magnates are constantly besieged for assistance of all sorts of endeavours. Yet, for various reasons, which I shall presently explore, she fills a relatively unimportant role in the mineral development of the greatest of the British Dominions, our own Canada.
When I first went to London in 1911 and was endeavoring to interest the big mining groups of that great centre in the exploration of Canada's mineral resources by the formation of what I believed would be a sound mining business in Canada, backed by British capital, I confess to having come up against many snags. Everywhere I was faced with uncomplimentary references to the Rossland fiascos, and the disappointments of the Lake of the Woods. Let me give you an account of a somewhat perturbing interview. It was with Sir Ernest Cassel, considered at that time to be the richest man in England, and with a wide diversity of interest. Well introduced, I was ushered into the presence of the great man, but not asked to sit down. "What is your business" ? he questioned. " Mining", I replied, "I am anxious to establish an Anglo-Canadian mineral exploration company; there are great opportunities in this direction in Canada." "All mining men are scoundrels, I am not interested. You may go", was his response. My meeting a few days later was more satisfactory. Similarly well introduced, I presented myself at the office in the city of Sir Edgar Speyerin 1911, scarcely a less important personality than Sir Ernest Cassel. It was a hot July afternoon and I was shown to a dark but extraordinarily beautiful waiting room. It was, indeed, a waiting-room, because there I stayed for nearly an hour but no one appeared. Thinking I had been forgotten, I rang a bell, and the Commissionaire announced upon answering it that he would inform Sir Edgar's secretary that I had to leave for another appointment. Scarcely had he gone when a man entered, hat in hand, looking very young and debonair. Thinking him to be the Secretary, I said: "I am waiting to see Sir Edgar Speyer, but fear I must leave for another appointment." "I am he", to my great amazement, the newcomer replied. "Surely, so young a man is not the great financier ?" I remarked, in genuine spontaneity. That was the beginning of a most pleasant association. Sir Edgar gave me numerous letters of introduction, including some to the Group who have stuck to me faithfully and amazingly uncomplainingly through all the ups and downs inevitable to the mining business, ever since.
British capital was almost entirely responsible for the development of the mines of the Rand, the goldfields of the South and North Island of New Zealand, the great mines of Western Australia and of India. In every part of the far-flung British Dominions except Canada. What, once more, is the reason ? The effect of early disappointments, the fact that Canadian and American mining organizations are as well or better equipped financially and are able to grasp the opportunities presented quickly; it is a case of "fruits to the swift."
Highly capable British engineers were on the ground at Porcupine in the very beginning of the excitement, but either through lack of faith in unusual conditions, or through failure of the London capitalists to support. their decisions, London quickly lost interest. Obviously, it is very difficult to get exact information as to what portion of our mining holdings are held in Canada and what portion abroad. The latest statistics suggest that about 54% of the shareholders in Canadian mines are Canadians, 30% are American, 13% are British; and 3%o belong to other countries. I think, however, there are now signs of an increasing interest in Great Britain, and many of the more prominent British mining concerns have either syndicates, exploration companies, or independent engineers operating in this country. The only British companies deriving their revenue from Canadian mines which are at the moment dividend-payers are
the Mond Nickel Company and the Huronian Belt Company. The Huronian Belt Company-or interests connected therewith-control such Canadian companies as the Keeley Silver Mines, the Vipond Consolidated, and the Canadian Lorrain, but these, it must be understood, are Canadian companies, not British.
In connection with the checkered history of the Keeley mine, it is interesting to note that it was the Associated Gold Mines of Western Australia (a London company owning a rich West Australian mine) which provided the Huronian Belt Company with the necessary capital, to develop that property after it had been acquired from the liquidators of the Farmers' Bank, and time after time came to its rescue, before it finally emerged as the rich and successful property it is today. It still possesses hundreds of shareholders in far-off Australia. This incident suggests Imperial co-operation, indeed !
There has been a tendency-I believe an unfortunate one-on the part of the British press, to show less sympathy to Canadian mining than has the American. British writers on mining affairs have perhaps dwelt too much with the Davidsons and Bingos, rather than with the Hollingers and Lake Shores. But this phase will pass, as more London-owned or controlled successful mining concerns develop, as they will. British people are remarkably game, and not quickly disheartened. Canada needs and welcomes their assistance in the investigation of its mineral areas, so distant from each other and often so difficult to explore. We should like to see more dividend cheques being cashed in the Old Country from Canadian mines. We hope that Great Britain will realize that despite certain inevitable fiascos, the Canadian mining industry is making giant strides, and is much more likely to make further progress than to languish. Many British men of affairs are now alive to these facts; some, indeed, much more alive to the importance of this basal industry of our country than most Canadians occupying analogous positions.
The approaching visit of the Empire Mining and Metallurgical Congress next summer should be productive of much good. It should create in the minds of the British Engineers who will congregate from every corner of the globe, a fuller appreciation of what is being accomplished at the widely diversified mines of Canada, an understanding of the special problems, geological and otherwise, inevitably connected with their development; a recognition of the opportunities presented by the great unexplored areas of this country.
Sir Alfred Mond, on a recent visit to Canada, pointed out that the world is becoming divided into great economic units. The United States, entirely self-contained, already forms one of these; another he considered was developing in Central Europe. In the widespread Dominions of the British Empire, containing every conceivable sort of natural resource, there lay, he believed, the well-developed nucleus of a group which would dwarf all others into insignificance. It is inspiring to visualise what a significant part Canada might play in such an Imperial scheme; what an important contribution to the common good would be provided by her widely diversified mineral wealth.
The Speaker was heartily thanked for his masterly Address.