I presume that the announcement of a talk on mining such as this, even a very few years ago, would have made the general impression that you were not very greatly concerned as individuals, because mines could not be considered as permanent sources of wealth. While it is quite true that the average life of a mine is short, mining itself is as old as agriculture, if not older, and next to agriculture is the most permanent of all our industries.
I believe that the oldest company in existence in the world today is a mining company-a Swedish organization started in 1193 which has been producing copper, gold and silver continuously since that time. One of the big copper mines in the world today is the Rio Tinto in Spain. They were sinking a new shaft a few years ago, and at a depth of 90 feet they found a few inches of very rich ore, and when the shaft reached that point it encountered workings dug by the Phoenicians estimated to be 2300 years old. And it is rather remarkable to think that those ancient miners were able to reach that pay-streak that some of the others have been able to do in other mines. In Wells' "Outline of History"it is stated that the first metal to be found used by our prehistoric ancestors was gold. It came into more or less use about the same time as the mythical mines from the mists of antiquity, and has been closely identified with the advance of our civilization since that time.
The search for gold has provided a lure which led to adventure, to conquest, and to settlement. We are told in the Bible that the King had at sea the Navy of Tarshish with the Navy of Hiram. We are told that there came the navy of Tarshish from the mines of Ophir, bringing gold and silver, apes and peacocks. Then there were the discoveries of the old Phoenicians, who were the first miners in Britain. We are familiar with the search for gold in the Western hemispheres. It led Cortez, with a mere handful of men, to conquer the rich country of Mexico. A little later it was the influence which led Pizzaro, with an even smaller number, to conquer Peru, a country with a wonderfully remote civilization of people calling themselves the Children of the Sun. They had Atahuallpa, who was the last Emporer of that vanished race, and who offered to Pizzaro, as a ransom, to fill the room in which he was confined with gold, as high as he could reach with his arms, and that room was 17 x 22 feet. Not only was this astounding ransom offered, it was also paid; yet Pizzaro, despite his word, murdered his wealthy prisoner, and his treatment of that helpless people and his despoliation of that country is one of the worst blots on the history of any Christian nation.
Still further down, in our time, we can see this influence at work. In Africa, in Australia, in the Western States, in Alaska, and last, but by no means least, in Northern Ontario, we find the desire for gold as strong as ever; but we find there that only Nature was conquered, and that this conquest led to the establishment of big industries, to the settlement of the land, and to a new flow of that yellow metal on which the commerce of the world is founded.
This, then, is what has taken place in Northern Ontario, which only about 20 years ago was almost a virgin wilderness. Today it is the centre of a great and growing industry which for the last few years has probably been the greatest single factor in maintaining the prosperity of this Province.
The metal output in 1925-and that comes only from 9 mines-was valued at $60,000,000. Taking the amount spent by both the producing and non-producing companies, we find that approximately $45,000,000 was distributed for service, wages and supplies, without including the dividends, which also eventually find their way into the channels of trade. This sum is not simply one year's contribution to the business life of this country; I think we can consider it as a permanent addition to our national life which will keep on increasing for many years. You are all interested as individuals because so wide is this distribution that there is no profession or no channel of trade into which some part of this money does not enter. There is a growing appreciation of this fact, a new conception of the importance of mining to the country as a whole. The general facts regarding Northern Ontario are becoming better known, and there seems to be a growing desire to know what the future holds in store.
I have mentioned that the average life of a mine is short, and this, of course, is a factor which we must consider in estimating the possibility for the development of a permanent mining industry in any country or any section of the country. There must be room for expansion. There must be room and opportunity for the discovery of new mines to take care of this wastage which occurs when individual mines are worked out. This is probably the greatest individual factor we must consider when we try to estimate the possibilities of the future in Northern Ontario.
Our mines are found in a class of rocks known as the Pre-Cambrian. We have 260,000 square miles of these. Probably not more than 15 or 20 per cent has been prospected, and while there are great stretches in which very little economic mineral will be found it is difficult, on the whole, to escape the conviction that it represents perhaps not the greatest but one of the greatest undeveloped mineral areas in the world today.
In arriving at this conclusion we must compare the known with the unknown; compare the important producing camps with those areas of which we know so little. The producing camps include Sudbury, Cobalt, South Lorraine, Gowganda, Kirkland and Porcupine. All of those lay within a circle having a radius of only 75 miles. This represents an area of 17,500 square miles, or less than 7 per cent of the total area of PreCambrian; yet in this area the production to date has been over $750,000,000, and we have the assurance that in the future many times this amount will be produced.
In the unprospected areas, while the geological evidence is encouraging, we cannot speak with great definiteness about something of which we know so little. I do not want to give you the impression that all this unprospected area will be equally valuable. Probably thousands of square miles will be found to contain no ore of economic importance, but taking it on the whole I am firmly convinced that it is one of the greatest undeveloped mineral areas in the world today.
If you look at the map you will find that practically all of our development has occurred close to the railway, and as a matter of fact two of the most important camps were found as a result of railway construction. Prospecting was confined to that area close to the railways, and this was only natural, particularly in the early stages of our mineral development. However, new methods of transportation are being devised. We have new and probably better machinery, and with new and better conceptions of what the industry means to the country as a whole, these will bring about a change. Prospectors are every day going further afield in the knowledge that capital is no longer afraid of distance, and if a discovery is important enough, transportation will be provided.
Further expansion will come about from three sources -first, through increased production and extending the areas of the already proven camps; second, through the re-opening of mines, or new discoveries in areas that have been practically abandoned for many years; and third, through the development of the newer areas. In Sudbury district, as a result of scientific research, many new uses have been found for nickel, and as a consequence the output is increasing very rapidly, and I think it will be only comparatively a short time until the output equals or exceeds the peak of the War production. Those Companies, with their known ore reservations, do things in a very big and permanent way. They have sufficient known ore to last them for 100 to 150 years, and I think it is reasonable to say that the gross value of their ore reserves-that is, the gross value of the ores in the ground, which has nothing to do with net profit-is equal to the national debt of Canada.
In the silver camp districts, while we find a decline in production of Cobalt itself, there are still quite substantial areas in that camp which have not yet been explored. Production, on the whole, is increasing, and last year represents an addition of about $1,000,000 over the previous year. The output of the silver districts as a whole is increasing, due to South Lorraine and Gowganda. South Lorraine is becoming increasingly important, and with the extension of the known areas down near the shores of Lake Temiskaming, and with discoveries being made from time to time, we are assured of a great increase in production. Gowganda is one of the most interesting silver mines just now. It lay practically neglected for many years, but now it is having an opportunity of proving its importance. Production from the individual mines is increasing. New and profitable mines have been opened up, and there appear to be a number of prospects well located which will undoubtedly be opened up with reasonably good chances of success.
The output of the Cobalt Silver Camp itself has only been exceeded by that of three silver camps in the history of the world. Two of those were in Mexico, and one in South America. They probably owed considerable of their preeminence to the fact that they had what amounted to slave labor, which resulted in low cost. Their riches bolstered up the waning strength of Spain; in fact, she otherwise would have fallen. They paid for and equipped the great Spanish Armada.
The experience of English soldiers and sailors in fighting the Spanish trader ships, and such spectacular exploits as Drake's storming of Portobello, known as the treasure-house of the world, led to the development of this Empire and the emergence of England as a great maritime power.
We are perhaps too close to things to realize the influence of metal mining on the destinies of this country, and it must be left for future generations to determine. The gold production, as you know, comes from Kirkland Lake and Porcupine. It has been determined that there are two great mineral belts in North-eastern Ontario in which these mines are found; and the delimiting of those belts has simplified the work of the prospector and enabled him to concentrate his efforts to much better advantage.
These two great belts extend through Kirkland Lake over into Quebec. The Porcupine belt also follows into Quebec. The Kirkland Camp itself is a very rapidly-growing camp which last year increased its production about 55 per cent. It is probably the fastest growing gold camp on the Continent, if not the world, and also I think has about the richest average ore on this Continent. Recently some very important discoveries of very rich ore have been made at considerable depth. Extensions have been found at both ends of the producing area. There are indications that further extensions may be found south of what is known as the main belt. It is usually a rather dangerous thing to play the role of prophet, but I would like to venture the assertion that in approximately two years' time the gold production of Kirkland Lake will be at the rate of $10,000,000 a year-an increase of 100 per cent over 1925 production.
East of Kirkland we have the Larder Lake section, where there is one producing mine, and two others with considerable tonnage of gold ore. This vein has been traced over into Quebec, where discoveries have been found as important as those in Ontario, if not more so.
The Porcupine belt has been traced through, from Munro, also into Quebec. Within a few miles of Porcupine east, there is a large drift-cooled area. Some companies consider this of a sufficient importance to acquire very large acreage, because they hope that the extension of the Porcupine camp will be found there. In Porcupine itself production is increasing, and the confines of the known ore extensions are being extended. East of Pearl Lake good results are being met with, and South of the Dome three new mills are being built. I would also venture the prediction regarding the outlook of the Porcupine plant and say that it is expected that in about two years production will be at the rate of $34,000,000 to $35,000,000 a year-an increase of 40 per cent over 1925.
Coming now to a consideration of what were old ores which have been passed over for a great many years, we find in at least two of those a revival of interest. The Goodlow section is a strong illustration of this. There the Pine Grove Syndicate and others are operating, and any measure of success will stimulate interest there, and lead to a large number of companies of prospectors going in.
North and North-East of Sault Ste Marie there is a very promising area which will receive attention. Just west of Goodlow is the Michipicoten District. Last year a very strong company went in there on a scientific basis and encountered results which appeared to be very promising, and there will be a good deal of work done there this year.
Further to the West we have the old Rainy River and Lake of the Woods District, which were the scene of the first gold mines in Ontario, and as a matter of fact were responsible for the bad odor in which gold mining in this province stood for many years. However, those mines were found at a time when our mining and metallurgical methods were much less efficient than they are at present, and with our present knowledge of geology of gold mines we think it would seem reasonable to expect that something may be found there.
You will see from this map that practically all our development to date has taken place between the Canadian National Railway on the north, and the Canadian Pacific Railway on the South. In this area between these railways there are still large stretches which are practically unknown, where undoubtedly large discoveries will be made. I might mention that in that area there are 500,000,000 tons of known iron ore which some day must be utilized.
North of the Canadian National Railway we have a vast unknown country, and you can see how large that Northern section is in proportion to its neighbors to the South. Thousands upon thousands of square miles have never been visited by the white man, and as an evidence of the possibilities we might point to the more or less recent discoveries in Red Lake, in the District of Patricia, about 150 miles from the Railway. So great has been the rush of prospectors to that country that some people say it will be the biggest stampede since the Yukon. Hundreds of men are going in, or preparing to go in, and in the Spring I think that number will be very largely increased, because the reports I have from there are very, very promising indeed. The snow motors which were sent in, and were expected to provide a new method of transportation for mining in that district without railways, did not prove a success, and had to be abandoned for dog teams. As a consequence dogs are at a premium, and the country has been swept clear of good dogs as far as Winnipeg, and prices of $100 to $200 for a single dog, and $400 for a four-dog team are being paid. It looks as if Red Lake may be important. We do not know how large the area may be, because it is winter staking, but there is no doubt that the excitement there will result in the opening up of hundreds of holes which otherwise might have lain dormant for years.
In Manitoba, just over the Ontario Boundary, discoveries have been made which appear to be quite important. On the Quebec side of the line we have the Rouyn field, of which we all know. In between is a stretch of a thousand miles of practically unknown country, in which engineers and prospectors will find a field of activity for generations. We cannot say what will be found, or that the camps we hope to find will rival in importance those we have in the older parts, but there is every reason for believing that in that great area there is undiscovered wealth which will prove to be one of the greatest national assets and a heritage for future generations.
To explore that country we need capital. Mining capital is at once the most venturesome and at the same time the most timid of all investment money. It is willing to take great risks, but it must have large returns. The percentage of profitable ventures to the total number undertaken is small, so that they must have large returns, because the producing companies must carry the whole burden. We think that we have a mineral area, but we need something more than that. We must be assured that mining companies will be empowered to make those large returns. We need stability-stability in operating conditions, stability in our laws, stability in our taxes. Fortunately we have a Government which realizes this, and which has committed itself to a fair and definite policy. Having, then, these factors, a large undeveloped and very promising mineral area, a sympathetic government, and a reasonable assurance that capital will come in if we show them the goods, we can look forward with every confidence to the future.
(Films were then shown, representing Northern Ontario, illustrating the geological formation of the mining sections and various features of the work of prospectors.)
PRESIDENT KIRKPATRICK expressed the appreciation of the Club to the Speaker for his admirable address and beautiful pictures, and also welcomed Sir Arthur Currie as a guest of the Club.