- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 14 Apr 1910, p. 233-241
- Miller, Professor W.G., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The Mineral industry as one of the great four industries in Canada: Agriculture, Minerals, Forestry and Fisheries. The Mineral industry of Canada at the present time only second in value of output to that of Agriculture. The extent of the Mineral industry in Canada. Great room for expansion in the mineral industry in Canada in the future. Some comparison production figures with the United States' mineral industry. Increases in output of our mines in Canada over the past fifteen years. Some provincial statistics. Ontario increase in output over the past ten years. The role of the railways in connection with the mineral industry, with illustrative instances. The speaker presents maps to the audience, geologically coloured, showing the different ages of the rocks. The mineral wealth of the Rocky Mountains in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Drawing our attention to the fact that Canada has the most ancient rocks of the continent, and some unique minerals. Specific mineral resources. A few words on mining booms and stock jobbing. Sudbury ore. The camp in Cobalt. The changes in our political history that would have been made had Cobalt been discovered during the French period.
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- 14 Apr 1910
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- Full Text
- THE MINERAL INDUSTRIES OF CANADA.
Address by PROFESSOR W. G. MILLER, M.A., LL.D., Provincial Geologist of Ontario, before the Empire Club of Canada, on April 14th, 1910.
Mr. President and Gentlemen,--
My work in connection with the mineral industry makes me usually feel more at home in the bush than addressing a Club such as this; but I feel quite at home today, owing to the fact that the President of the Club hails from my home country, sometimes called "Glorious Old Norfolk," while the gentleman on my left is also a native of that place. I also see many gentlemen around whom I have met at College, or with whom I have been associated in mineral industries. I am much pleased at having this opportunity of being present with you today. As the time is short I will not try to treat my subject very systematically, but will take up the points which I think will be of the most interest to you.
The Mineral industry is one of four in this country, and probably the country's best natural resource. Agriculture, Minerals, Forestry and Fisheries are the four great industries. The Mineral industry of Canada at the present time is second in value of output only to that of Agriculture, and of course, the output of Agriculture represents a good deal 'of labour, so it is hard to make a fair comparison of the two. Yet notwithstanding the fact that we have probably heard more about Forestry of late years in a public way than Minerals, the Mineral industry is greater than those of Forestry and Fisheries combined.
This will show you the extent of the Mineral industry in our own country. I might say that in the United States 65 percent of the freight carried by the railway companies is minerals or mineral products, so in that country the Mineral industry has a very high standing. Then I might say that we feel in Canada, while we have made great progress during recent years, we have great room for expansion in the future, when we consider the production of the United States. In that country the production represents $25 per head of the population, while in Canada, at the present time, the production represents about half that amount, or $12.50 per head of the population. Then if we consider the rate of increase we have made in the production of Mineral wealth during the last few years, I think we have great encouragement for the future.
We feel that while it is important now it will be much more important in a comparatively short time, for during the year 1909 the output of our mines in Canada represented a value of $90,000,000; five years before that it represented only $60,000,000; an increase of 50 percent in five years. And if we go back about fifteen years we find the production then was only about one-fifth of what it is now; so it represents five times the output at the present time that it did fifteen years ago. Then if we take our own Province of Ontario our output is based on a, mean valuation of about $40,000,000, but in Ontario we are rather modest, and so do not value the products of the mines as they do in some other places, but simply value it at what it is worth at the mines. In Ontario, in 1909, our statistics show that we had an output of $33,000,000 or more than any other Province in the Dominion. I do not know whether there are any gentlemen here from British Columbia, which used to be called the Mineral Province of the Dominion, and the only Province which would produce minerals in paying quantities. At the present time this Province of Ontario, which has no coal, is producing one-third of the minerals of the Dominion. Of course. Nova Scotia and British Columbia both have coal.
If we go back only ten years in the history of Mineral industries in Ontario, to 1899, the output was then a little over $8,000,000, so in ten years, Ontario has increased, fourfold or 400 per cent. I think that these statistics give us great encouragement for the future of our Mineral industry. Our population is just beginning to increase--we have vast territories undeveloped-and in ten, fifteen, or twenty years there is no doubt in my mind but that Canada will be one of the greatest Mineral countries in the world. Look at what the building of railways in Canada, so far, has done in connection with the Mineral industry! For instance, the building of the C.P.R. discovered that great Sudbury camp in Northern Ontario, the output from which is roughly estimated (and I think my friend, Mr. J. M. Clark, will bear me out on this) at something like $100,000,000 in copper, nickel and mineral by-products. The Railway discovered that camp, which it is estimated may easily last for many generations. There is no mining camp in America or in the world that has so much high grade ore in sight; as far as we can see it will last for many generations, and of course that camp is only in its infancy.
Then when the Ontario Government built the T. & N. O. Railway up through the northern part of the country, for agricultural purposes (it was simply built to open up their land for agriculture) it discovered Cobalt which has produced about $38,000,000, but the best part of it is that nearly $28,000,000 has been paid as profits in dividends. This Government line of about 450 miles has cost thirteen or fourteen million dollars, so the output of that little camp, which has an area of a little over three or four miles in extent has more than paid for that whole railroad. I just give you these instances which have resulted from the building of the C.P.R. and T. & N. O. Railways to show what we may expect from the building of the railways, proposed and under construction, at the present time. For instance, that Transcontinental Railway which is running across to the Pacific has easily doubled the possible area in Canada, making our country twice as great in a certain sense. Then we have the Canadian Northern extending its lines, and that railway they are having a little trouble about at the present time, running from Edmonton to Fort McMurray; also the line the Dominion Government seem committed to build up there at Hudson's Bay.
There has been some criticism of this latter scheme, but I think the railway is well worth construction, even if there is never a carload of grain shipped over the line, when you consider the great territory which will be tributary to it along the shores of Hudson's Bay. We know that the rock formations in that district are the same as those in Michigan and Minnesota which made those States world-famous for their iron ore and copper, and the outlook is very promising from a mineral point of view. There is one of the greatest copper deposits up there near Copper River, perhaps, in the world. It has not been visited since the year 1826, and as I said in addressing another Club, "The country is so large that you cannot get around it more than once every hundred years." To give you an idea of the inaccessibility of that country, I thought some time ago I would, like to go myself and see it, but found upon figuring it out that I would have to go in one winter, stay there the balance of the winter and the following summer, and come back the following winter--but life is too short and I did not make the trip.
These maps (pointing to them) are all geologically coloured showing the different ages of the rocks. In this area, taking in Sudbury and Cobalt, we have these two great camps just on the edge of our settlements. Then some of these rocks run over into Minnesota and Michigan, which are largely responsible for making the United States one of the greatest iron and steel-producing countries of the world, and the State of Michigan, one of the greatest copper-producing countries in the world. Michigan and Minnesota turn out about 40 million ton of high grade ore per year--150,000,000 dollars worth or more, and it will increase.
Then if we consider the mineral wealth of the Rocky Mountains I might say that Mexico has about 1,750 miles of this same range which has produced $5,500,000,000 worth of precious metals, that is, gold and silver, or about $3,000,000 per mile in length; that the United States has 1,100 miles of these mountains compared with Mexico's 1,750 miles, which have produced about the same per mile in length; while we in Canada have 1,600 miles of these mountains, and can reasonably expect that the production will be relatively the same as in Mexico and the United States, for we have only developed the fringe of the Rockies along the border. I think there is no doubt we will have one of the greatest mineral countries in the world and, today, we have beyond doubt the greatest undeveloped mineral resources of any country in the world, and Canada offers the greatest inducements .for capitalists and prospectors.
I would draw your attention to the fact that as Canada has the most ancient rocks of the continent-this is the first part of the earth's crust which came up from the upheaval of the ocean-it is not surprising to find some of its minerals unique; just as the fauna of Australia, representing a past age, are unique, with marsupials like the kangaroo, and creatures which are a cross between birds and mammals. In like manner, Canada's minerals are in many respects unique. For instance, we produce 80 percent of the world's consumption of asbestos--known as "mineral wool" in a small area in Quebec. This is used for different purposes, fog-theatre dropcurtains, firemen's clothing, fireproof boards, etc. Then there is mica, sometimes called isinglass. We produce in Ontario and Quebec practically all the world uses of amber-coloured mica. There are other varieties found in India and a few other countries, but this ambercoloured variety, which is the best for electrical purposes, is much sought after and is practically all produced in Canada. We lead the world in these two minerals.
Then we have nickel, which is in great demand for making nickel-steel for armour-plate and other purposes. We produce 65 percent of the world's supply, having only one competitor, New Caledonia, a French penal colony in the southern Pacific. This colony used to produce more than Canada, but they are unable to keep up with us now. Then there is mineral-cobalt. Our Cobalt camp was named after the finding of this characteristic metal. It is very much like nickel--you could scarcely tell them apart. We have more of that in sight than any other country in the world at the present time; in, fact, since Cobalt has become such a producer the mines at New Caledonia have had to close down, and the price has been reduced from $2.50 per pound to 75c. It is used for colouring glass and to make nickel look like silver. Both cobalt and nickel are magnetic, that is, they are attracted by the magnetlike iron. It is rather peculiar that the rocks up there and some in Minnesota contain the only three magnetic elements, cobalt, nickel and iron.
I was going to say a few words about mining booms and stock jobbing, but the time is slipping away. Well, I will just touch on the subject very briefly. I might say that technical men, mining men, and mineralogists always object to these booms, because the people get bitten and the industry gets blighted. For instance, after Cobalt was discovered in 1903, Toronto people having been pretty well singed in British Columbia mines, although we had as fine a collection of ore from the Cobalt district as one would wish to see, Toronto people were not interested. I had a fine collection at the King Edward Hotel myself, but you couldn't get a Toronto =man to look at it scarcely. But the next year when the camp was paying handsomely, the people went to the other extreme, and now they have been bitten again, and are inclined to blame the mineral industry. But it is all caused by stock jobbing and bad advice.
If a man is physically ill he consults a physician if he is spiritually ill he consults a spiritual adviser of one of the creeds. If he is in legal trouble he seeks advice from a graduate of a law school, but, if he contemplates going into the mining business (and this applies very specially to many of our business men) he takes advice from the first fakir he comes across who says he knows something about mines. Now if people would display the same discretion in this that they do in other matters the mineral industry would be on a much better plane, and it would be just as safe, and safer perhaps than many another business. Nine out of ten of the men who have written the most reports, and given the most advice. are the worst fakirs in Canada. Mining men know them. Of course, they are not all like this, but in many case the greatest fakirs we have here had a reputation before they came to these camps.
Now I might have said a little more about Sudbury ore. It contains nickel and copper. Ordinarily these metals are taken out by solution. The ore is smelted down and a precipitate formed. But a few years ago the Canadian Copper Co. found a method of getting rid of the slag which leaves the two metals together, making a splendid alloy known as Monal Metal. This is non-corrodible, contains 68 percent nickel and 32 percent copper, and can be produced much more cheaply than the old way. If the hope fulfills the promise now shown, it will mean a great extension of the nickel industry in Sudbury. Here is a sample of nickel we should make use of for coining nickel pieces--now I do not refer to the United States kind, which contains 75 percent copper and only 25 percent nickel, and which wears greasy. This is pure nickel. When the United States first commenced to produce nickel coins they could not stamp nickel-they had no machinery powerful enough. I notice that our Minister of Finance is a little doubtful as to whether nickel will be suitable for coinage, but I think lie has in mind the United States kind. I think (turning to Mr. Clark) you should draw Mr. Fielding's attention to this. It could easily replace the 5-cent pieces we have in use at the present time, and would be far more satisfactory. The tensile strength of nickel-steel is about 25 percent greater than that of steel, and it does not corrode nearly so rapidly as ordinary steel. I hear they are going to use it in the Quebec Bridge.
I have referred to Cobalt in rather a general way; I might have said that one of the chief benefits of Cobalt to the country is that until this camp was discovered it was thought there were no precious metal camps east of the Rocky Mountains which amounted to much, and capitalists did not care to invest their money in stocks, but in my estimation we have today good chances of finding other and similar camps to Cobalt up in that northern region. I often wonder what the result would have been had Cobalt been discovered, say, during the French period. It would have changed the whole political complexion of the country--the French would have rushed in in great numbers, or the New Zealand settlers would have flocked there, and we would either have stayed French or the French race would have been dominant in that portion of the country. The silver would have been taken down the Ottawa River more easily than now, and they could have taken out $100,000,000 worth. It would have made a great change in conditions here. The Bureau of Mines sent a strong party up into that country four or five years ago; they made a careful examination for coal and did some drilling, but the conclusion I came to was that the coal there was useless except for local consumption of farmers. I may say there are no recent deposits, that is sand and gravel deposits; you will find 10 to 15 feet of clay over the coal, and it would cost more than the coal is worth to take it out from those narrow seams. Strictly speaking, we have no true coal in this part of the country, our rocks are too old. The rocks I speak of came up from the ocean at a very early period and apparently the coal rock was never deposited.
In moving a vote of thanks, Mr. J. G. Colmer, C.M.G., of London, said: I want in the first place to thank my friend, Mr. Clark, for having done me the kindness of inviting me here today, but I think it was rather an extensive kindness on his part and on the part of the chairman when I came into the room to ask me to propose a vote of thanks to Mr. Miller for his address--probably the reason they did not give me longer notice was for fear that I would keep you too long. I have known Mr. Miller--as no doubt you all have--for years and have much pleasure, I am sure, in thanking him on your behalf for the very interesting and luminous address he has given. I am sure it will add greatly to the knowledge we already possess of the mineral resources of this great Dominion. It was said to me when I came in by one of your members, "If we had had as much confidence in Mr. Miller 5 years ago as we have now probably most of us would be a great deal better off."
There is only one thing which I think Mr. Miller neglected to state; he failed to say anything about the mines in which we can make the most money!