21st-century miners strike new gold in Nova Scotia
Precious metal found in hunks of stone is helping to revive dormant industry
MOOSE RIVER GOLD MINES, N.S.— Amid the dull claystone of a tube-shaped sample of rock, the gleaming, pulsequickening swirl of gold is unmistakable.
“It’s quite a special specimen of gold — it’s by far the best visible section of gold we’ve ever intersected,” said Tim Bourque, a geologist with Atlantic Gold Corp, cradling the metrelong sample in his arms.
The rock was gathered last fall at the firm’s Fifteen Mile Lake property, one of four deposits it owns in Nova Scotia’s old gold districts.
The discovery of the precious metal in such unremarkable hunks of stone is helping to revive a dormant industry — and Bourque hopes it will keep the company’s Moose River Consolidated Project flourishing after its initial Touquoy mine starts up here in September.
The company says Touquoy will stamp out 87,000 ounces of gold in its first year — each ounce worth more than $1,200 (U.S.) each — an indication of the potential riches that have drawn Atlantic Gold and other min- ers to the interior of the province’s Eastern Shore region.
The number of provincial exploration licences shot up from 259, covering 35,000 hectares, to 417 licences covering almost 97,000 hectares last year.
Those include a variety of other minerals, but the Department of Natural Resources says “gold is a target for many.”
Nova Scotia’s 21st-century gold industry differs from the era of underground shafts at Moose River Gold Mines, the site of a world-famous1936 cave-in that trapped three men and led to the live broadcast of a dramatic rescue that was heard across the continent.
Geologists are now seeking tiny flecks of the precious metal in the folds of ordinary, “host” rock that held the quartz, rather than exclusively in the quartz veins that characterize underground gold mines.
The new Moose River mines are open pits the size of multiple football fields, using daily explosions to extract tonnes of ore along with a mass crushing and leaching to draw out tiny amounts of gold.
During a tour, chief operations officer Maryse Belanger says about 25,000 tonnes of ore will start to be moved around the grounds each day this fall.
About 25,000 tonnes of ore will be moved around Moose River Gold Mines each day this fall, chief operations officer Maryse Belanger says.