Glory to ghost; the 25-year NWT zinc town – by A.J. Roan (North of 60 Mining News – April 26, 2019)

Like many single-industry towns, once the well dries up, people seek greener pastures. However, the residents of a place many probably have never even heard of hold on to the remnants of their past. For them, it was an important and irreplaceable land, it was their home.

Pine Point, Northwest Territories, was a town located 10 kilometers (6 miles) inland from the south shore of Great Slave Lake and 87 kilometers (54 miles) east of Hay River. Cominco Ltd. (now Teck Resources Ltd.) explored the area around Pine Point as early as 1929 but it wouldn’t be for at least thirty years until development would begin and the plans for a settlement established. Production started in 1965.

Cominco built its own townsite which became known as Pine Point. It became a territorial settlement with private businesses and boasted a population of nearly 2,000 at its peak. By the mid-1980s depressed prices caused economic difficulties for the mine. Cominco shut down operations in the summer of 1987, although it continued to mill until the following spring.

Most industry towns, after losing their purpose, attempt resurrections, reinventions or just slowly wither away. By 1989, however, Pine Point was erased entirely, rail spur removed and the site reclaimed.

In the end, the zinc mining town was left standing just long enough for a single generation to run through it. The Pine Point ore deposit was discovered in the late 19th Century by fur traders at Fort Resolution who learned of the lead ores from the natives. The discovery of lead-zinc deposits near Pine Point was closely related to the Klondike Gold Rush.

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