Sudbury Basin’s Garson Mine Celebrates its Centennial – by Laurel Myers

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Laurel Myers’ article. (Originally published on September 16, 2008)


Vale Inco marked a century of operations at Garson Mine on Sept. 5. Company officials, local dignitaries, United Steelworkers Local 6500 representatives and Garson Mine employees, both past and present, were on hand to celebrate the milestone.

“For over a century now, Garson Mine has been producing high value ore that is vital to the ongoing success of our operations,” said Murilo Ferreira, president and chief executive officer of Vale Inco, in a news release.

“Not only has Garson Mine enjoyed continued success in production, it has also proven itself to be a leader in health and safety, and we are very proud of that.” In 1907, the first shaft at Garson Mine was sunk 225 feet from the surface, and in 1908, production for the mine began at a rate of 200 tonnes of ore per day. Today, with 253 employees and a shaft depth of 4,200 feet, Garson Mine produces 2,300 tonnes of high-value ore daily.

“We are proud of Garson Mine’s rich history and the standard of excellence it has created within the mining community,” said Fred Stanford, president of Vale Inco’s Ontario operations.

“The success of any venture requires commitment from everyone involved and I would like to thank each employee, past and present, who has contributed to the success of Garson Mine over the course of the last century.”

Garson Mine has twice been the recipient of the National John T. Ryan Trophy, representing safety excellence, in 1945 and again 60 years later. With close to zero frequency in reportable injuries, Garson Mine had the lowest lost-time accident rate of any mine in Canada in 2005.

“Not only has Garson Mine enjoyed continued success in production, it also has proven itself to be a national leader in safety,“ Stanford said. “Safety is very much the defining word in terms of the day-to-day culture at Garson Mine, and everyone at Garson Mine is known for putting safety first both on the job and in the community.” Building on its long history, Garson Mine recently expanded its operations. In 2007, production began on the $30-million Garson Ramp project. The project involved three ore bodies that produce nickel, copper and precious metals.

The Garson Ramp was in operation from 1988 until 1994, when it was closed for economic reasons. At full production, the Ramp produces at a rate of 500 tonnes of ore per day, and employs 20-30 fulltime workers. The ramp contributes 18 per cent of Vale Inco’s precious metals recovery in Sudbury.

“Vale Inco has been operating in the Sudbury Basin for a very, very long time and our company has been woven into the very fabric of this community,” Stanford said.                

Celebrations continued throughout the weekend to commemorate the mine’s 100th year in operation.

For the first time in the mine’s history — excluding days spent on strike — the Garson Mine shut down all operations on Sept. 6, to welcome the community in to explore one of the area’s oldest mines and join the employees in a celebration of their success.

Visitors were invited to take a guided tour down 400 feet on the newly re-opened ramp, and take a look at the equipment used underground, as well as learn the difference between rock and ore. Visitors also had an opportunity to experience the thrill, and chill, of dropping 2,000 feet underground into a mine shaft by means of the cage, or shaft elevator.

Ed Joly, who has been with Vale Inco for 12 years, eight of which have been spent at the Garson Mine, and Wayne Tonelli, with Vale Inco for 38 years and the foreman of the ramp, joined together to organize the weekend’s events a year ago. They said the success far surpassed their expectations. “We invited the community of Garson,” Tonelli said. “We want to show our appreciation for having a mine right in the middle of town.”