Thursday 18 February 2016

Mining Vancouver Island

While Vancouver Island is most commonly associated with the resource-based industries of forestry and fishing, the island also has a strong and deep history of mining.

Just this January, the last working coal mine on Vancouver Island closed down for an indefinite period of time. The Quinsam Coal Mine in Campbell River was shut down in the face of changing global economies and a decline in the demand for coal. Its closure marks the final end of an important part of Vancouver Island’s history.

Coal mining began on the island (and surrounding islands) in the 1800s, with the discovery of coal in the Nanaimo region. This initial discovery was facilitated by local First Nations, who noticed the coal that Hudson’s Bay Company employees used and offered the information that coal was available locally.

Mining jobs brought many people to the island and particularly areas of Nanaimo and Victoria were built upon the success of prominent mining families.

Mining became big business, first coal and then metals. The island is marked by the industry, with both small, abandoned mine sites and large decommissioned mine sites. Myra Mines, operating in Strathcona Park on central Vancouver Island, was the last of the large mineral mines to cease operations, with the mine being put on an indefinite shut-down in 2015. The ownership cites a downturn in global commodity prices for the shut-down, although the mine is not considered closed and keeps a skeleton crew on site to maintain environmental and safety standards.

There are still individual mine claims throughout the back country of Vancouver Island as well as on the smaller islands. Whether any of these are active is hard to determine. There are also still people who pan in the local rivers, hoping to find a gold nugget or two.

Properties that come up for sale in the more remote areas of the islands can be impacted by a mining background. Some may be actual mine sites, such as the property for sale near Benson River outside Port Alice. Others, such as the Quartz Bay property on Cortes Island, are at least partially made up of old mining claims.

Hatley and Cragidarroch Castles, the community of Cumberland, Newcastle Island, the IslandCopper Mine outside of Port Hardy, small mining relics and tailings piles, unused mining claims, the numerous dams around Nanaimo – all of these are part of the legacy mining has created in Vancouver Island.

It’s a Coastal Lifestyle … Live it!

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