Excerpt from “Haywire My Life in the Mines” – by Doug Hall

This autobiographical book describes the Doug Hall’s family through war and depression, and goes on to relate his experiences underground in the late 1960′s and early 1970′s. It is written from the point of view of the average Joe who went underground when he was eighteen and didn’t know what he was getting into. The author considers himself lucky to have survived those years.

Click here to order an e-book of “Haywire My Life in the Mines”: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/269905

Working on the Grizzly

So anyway there I was one day working in a gang of guys with Old Abel when the Shift Boss or Captain or some such dignitary came up to us and said, “I need a man with a safety belt to work on the grizzly”. Now probably at that point I should have been a bit brighter and taken note of how all the other men in the crew were suddenly looking at the ground or the side of the drift or just about anyplace else except at this chap who needed a man for the grizzly. And to compound things I looked directly at this chap and said, “I’ve got a safety belt”. I noticed then how some of the other men in the crew seemed to relax and some of them even looked the visiting dignitary right in the face as if to say, “Gee I was going to volunteer but that other guy beat me to it”. And so that was how I became a grizzly man.

For the uninitiated perhaps I should explain what a grizzly is. It’s basically a steel grating with various sized holes placed over the top of an ore-pass. Usually a scooptram driver but sometimes trammers on the railroad tracks would put rocks of varying sizes (i.e. muck) on top of the grizzly and then the grizzly men would have to put the rocks through the grizzly so that the rocks would be small enough to go through the chutes in the loading pocket down below. The grizzly men would do this using a scaling bar, a sledge hammer or by drilling and blasting the rocks, sometimes after dragging them to the back of the grizzly using a tugger hoist.

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Excerpt from “Haywire My Life in the Mines” – by Doug Hall

This autobiographical book describes the Doug Hall’s family through war and depression, and goes on to relate his experiences underground in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. It is written from the point of view of the average Joe who went underground when he was eighteen and didn’t know what he was getting into. The author considers himself lucky to have survived those years. 

Click here to order an e-book of “Haywire My Life in the Mines”http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/269905

Sudbury 1966

Anyway as I said I was eighteen when the grade thirteen school year was over and so father took me out to the mine the next day. I don’t recall being asked if I wanted to go underground. Father was a miner and I guess like it or not I was going underground as well. I remember I made $2.56 an hour that first summer underground as mine helper.

I still remember going down on the cage the first time. I felt good about it. No fear. I think I sort of felt like I had become a man. One time a few years later I had been away from the mines for a while but I had secured a job underground. In the day or so before I went back underground I was seized by fear. I knew then what I was getting myself into. I managed to steel my nerves and get on with it. After a few days back at it I was okay but I always remember the fear I had that time before I went back under.

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Excerpt from “The History of Mining: The events, technology and people involved in the industry that forged the modern world” – by Michael Coulson

To order a copy of The History of Mining please click here: http://www.harriman-house.com/products/books/23161/business/Michael-Coulson/The-History-of-Mining/


The Australian mining boom of the late 1960s was given the generic title of the nickel boom, although it can be argued that nickel was, in economic terms, a relatively minor part of a period of exploration and new discoveries that saw the genesis of the giant iron ore industry in the northern part of Western Australia and the discovery of uranium in the Northern Territories.

In terms of nickel there were three major events – the discovery of nickel by Western Mining at Kambalda in Western Australia in 1966, the sensational but ultimately disappointing Poseidon discovery at Windarra to the north of Kambalda in 1969, and in 1971 the Selection Trust group’s Agnew nickel discovery, which was further north still.


Although Australia had spawned a number of mining booms in its past, the 1960s boom at times was as much a financial event as a mining event. As far as stock market activity was concerned, the surge of interest in Australian mining shares followed an extended worldwide boom in industrial, technology and financial shares, and was symptomatic of an era when confidence was high and investors, buoyed by profits elsewhere, were in the mood for speculation.

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Home of the World’s Greatest Mining Business: Sudbury – by Ross Harkness (Star Weekly – March 14, 1953)

The Star Weekly, which ceased publication in 1973, was the weekend supplement to the Toronto Star.

The real silent service is not the Royal Navy; it is the Canadian nickel industry. While Labrador, Chibougamau, Kitmat and Alberta have been reveling in the white light of publicity, the Sudbury basin of Ontario has gone quietly about he business of building up the most gigantic mining enterprise in Canada and the biggest of its kind in the world.

It is hard to avoid talking in superlatives when the people of Sudbury boast, quite truthfully, that no civilized man in the Western world passes a day of his life without using in some form or other a product of their rocky environs.

They will tell you, and the dominion bureau of statistics confirms it, that Sudbury workers are the highest paid in Canada, earning an average of $66.05 a week, compared with and average of $54.47 in Toronto and $50.75 in Montreal.

They boast, and the department of labour agrees, that they are the most unionized area in Canada, and that their local 598 of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers is twice as big and twice as rich as any other in Canada.

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NFB Film: The Hole Story – by Richard Desjardins and Robert Monderie


The following is from the National Film Board of Canada Press Kit


“Don’t know much about mines? Not many people do. Mines don’t talk. Especially about their history.” Richard Desjardins and Robert Monderie explore this history in their latest documentary, The Hole Story. Produced by the National Film Board of Canada, the film continues in the same provocative vein as their earlier Forest Alert.

The history of mining in Canada is the story of astronomical profits made with utter disregard for the environment and human health. It’s also a corrupt and sometimes sinister story. For example, during the First World War, nickel from Sudbury was sold to the German army to make the bullets that ended up killing soldiers from Sudbury in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. In Cobalt, a town in Ontario that once had no garbage collection, people were dying of typhoid.

Meanwhile, the first Canadian mining magnates were growing filthy rich selling silver to England from the 40 mines surrounding the town.

Timmins has its own shameful mining story. In the woods,50 kilometres west of the railroad, prospectors quickly staked their claims before heading to the government office to register their hectares and take ownership of the subsoil.

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OMA President is keynote speaker at mining/Aboriginal summit in Timmins

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province

Ontario Mining Association President Chris Hodgson will be the keynote speaker at the Mining Ready Summit: Preparing Aboriginal Communities for Mining-Related Business Opportunities in Timmins. This event is being hosted by Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund on October 25 and 26, 2011 at the Days Inn Conference Centre. 

The summit is expected to attract more than 150 key mineral sector people, contractors, mine supply and service company representatives, Aboriginal business owners and First Nations community leaders. The goal of the gathering is to help prepare Aboriginal communities for mining related business opportunities. It is hoped participants will bring new knowledge, lessons learned and best practices to the summit and communicate effectively with participants.

Mr. Hodgson is the keynote speaker at the dinner on October 25. He will share the OMA’s vision for the future of mining in Ontario. Global economic forces such as urbanization and the continued developmental paths of nations such as China and India are providing this province with a window of opportunity to meet a lengthy anticipated period of high demand for commodities Ontario can produce. 

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Sudbury in the 1960s – by Sudbury Star (Unknown Date)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

The 1960s were a period of tension and turmoil in Sudbury, with huge changes in local labour organizations. It was also a period of massive urban renewal and municipal restructuring.

When the decade opened, the entire mining industry workforce was represented by one union — the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers. When the decade ended, the United Steelworkers Union had established itself as bargaining agent for Inco employees in Sudbury.

To mark its presence in the community, the union purchased the former Legion Hall at Frood Road and College Street. The building became the Steelworkers Hall.

It was also a time of increasing demand for nickel products throughout the world, helped in no small part by the war in Vietnam. Both of the community’s mining companies, Inco and Falconbridge, were expanding operations.

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Mining pioneer’s memoir reissued [Sudbury History] – by Paul Bennett (Halifax Chronicle Herald – October 9, 2011)


Paul W. Bennett is founding director, Schoolhouse Consulting, Halifax, and the author of Vanishing Schools, Threatened Communities: The Contested Schoolhouse in Maritime Canada, 1850-2010.

Dusty old memoirs rarely attract much attention, unless they celebrate the lives of famous figures or capture well the social experience of bygone days. Men and women living ordinary lives rarely write autobiographies and fewer still have the resources to get them published.

The rather obscure Cape Breton-born mining pioneer Aeneas (Angus) McCharles (1844-1906) was an exception to the normal pattern. His personal memoir, Bemocked of Destiny, published posthumously in 1908, achieved some notoriety for its homespun philosophy and has been re-published recently as a centenary project.

McCharles’s fascinating life caught the imagination of Martin McAllister, an amateur historian and former columnist for the Inco Triangle, the official newsletter of the International Nickel Company in Sudbury, Ont. While researching the mining pioneers of Sudbury District some years ago, he stumbled upon McCharles and his long out-of-print memoir.

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Thirty Years of Glory: The Kidd Creek Timmins Story – by Gregory Reynolds (Fall 1996)

This column was originally published in the Fall, 1996 issue of Highgrader Magazine which is committed to serve the interests of northerners by bringing the issues, concerns and culture of the north to the world through the writings and art of award-winning journalists as well as talented freelance artists, writers and photographers.

On November 8, 1963, a young Canadian geologist named Ken Darke set up a diamond drill 16 miles north of the Town of Timmins. The hole was logged as Kidd 55-1 and when the core came up there was a foot of solid copper in it. On July 16, 1996, Frank Pickard, then 62, president and CEO of Falconbridge Ltd. told a gathering of Timmins civic and political leaders he hoped Kidd Creek Mine would be here “thirty years from now. I won’t be here, but the mine could be.”

In between these two dates is the story of a unique orebody, one so rich it staggers the imagination.

Kidd Creek Mine has been in production since 1966. It has processed 106.5 million tones grading 6.55% zinc, 2.31% copper, .24% lead and 94 grams silver per tonne. In addition, there is an estimated 32.2 million tones of ore in the proven, probable and possible reserves for a grand total of 138.7 million tones of base metals. By comparison, the 1994 copper-nickel-cobalt discovery at Voisey’s Bay in Labrador is presently estimated to contain just over 100 million tonnes.

The Kidd Creek Mine literally saved the town and improved the lot of every miners in the area.

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Ontario Teachers take mining lessons back to the classroom

This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.

The Ontario Mining Association has helped 27 Ontario teachers gain a better perspective on the mineral industry through its participation in the second annual Teachers’ Mining Tour.  This educational professional development program was held at the Canadian Ecology Centre (CEC) near Mattawa from August 15 to 19, 2011. 

The program exposed teachers to all phases of the mining cycle, industry professions, Earth science and mineral education specialists, Earth science presentations, educational resources and numerous field trips.  George Flumerfelt, President of North Bay-based mine contractor Redpath and an OMA Director, provided a “Mining 101” presentation for the educators to kick off the intensive week.

Tours included visits to Vale’s smelter complex in Sudbury and Xstrata Nickel’s Nickel Rim South Mine.  In North Bay, the teachers toured Boart Longyear’s drill manufacturing facilities including a highly automated operation featuring robotics.  Also, a representative of consulting engineering firm Knight Piesold made a presentation on the role of environmental assessments in resource development to this group of teachers. 

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HISTORICAL: How will Sudbury mines compete – John Ibbitson (Sudbury Star/Southam Newspapers – November 9, 1996)

The Sudbury Star, the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Please note: Voisey’s Bay nickel reserves have subsequently been proven to be much, much less than the legendary Sudbury Basin. Furthermore, the commitment to mining robotics was significantly reduced and Voisey’s Bay did not start commercial production until 2005. – Stan Sudol

Voisey’s Bay raises the question

A student who wants to graduate with a mining engineering degree from Sudbury’s Laurentian University must be able to sit in a room and pilot a miniature truck with a television camera strapped to it along the university’s corridors.

Some believe Sudbury’s ultimate fate rests on this skill.

Sudbury has reigned for a century as the nickel capital of the world. Even today, despite new mines that have opened around the globe, the Sudbury basin and its 17 mines account for about 11 per cent of the world’s total nickel supply. And there are an estimated 30 to 80 years of reserves left, depending on what new ore bodies are discovered.

But every year, the miners must delve deeper to get at the ore, making that ore ever more expensive.

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Noranda Incorporated History (1922 – 2004) – by International Directory of Company Histories

For a large selection of corporate histories click: International Directory of Company Histories

Company History:

Noranda Inc. is one of the largest mining and metals companies in the world with operations in 18 countries. Production of copper and nickel accounts for the majority of Noranda’s revenues–the company also mines aluminum, zinc, and precious metals. Noranda restructured in the late 1990s by selling off its forest products and oil and gas businesses in order to focus on its core metals and mining assets.

Origins and Development: 1920s-50s

The history of Noranda begins with the story of a prospector named Edmund Horne, and a hunch. During the early 1920s, at a time when northern Canada was unchartered–the area was mostly wilderness, and prospectors preferred to stay on the familiar grounds of Ontario–Horne was drawn to the Rouyn district in northeastern Quebec. He visited Rouyn repeatedly, because he believed it “didn’t seem sensible that all the good geology should quit at the Ontario border!” Horne could reach Rouyn only by way of a chain of lakes and rivers.

His enthusiasm was contagious, and soon a group of 12 men had raised C$225 to finance further explorations. The effort paid off when word of Horne’s first strike made it to S.C. Thomson and H.W. Chadbourne, two United States mining engineers with a syndicate of investors interested in exploring Canadian mines. In February 1922, the syndicate bought an option on Horne’s mining claims in Ontario and Quebec and exercised it. Noranda Mines Ltd. was incorporated in 1922 to acquire the U.S. syndicate’s mining claims.

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Falconbridge Limited (1928-2000) – by International Directory of Company Histories

For a large selection of corporate histories click: International Directory of Company Histories

Company History:

Falconbridge Limited is a leading base metals mining company operating out of Toronto, Canada. Its primary commodity is nickel, which is instrumental in the manufacture of stainless steel, followed by copper, cobalt, and platinum group metals. Falconbridge owns nickel mines in Canada and the Dominican Republic, and ever since 1930 has maintained a refinery in Norway. The company is majority owned by Noranda, a Canadian natural resources company that controls more than 50 percent of its stock. Falconbridge shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Founding of Falconbridge: 1928

Falconbridge took its name from the township of Falconbridge, Ontario, an area possessing large deposits of nickel. In 1928, businessman Thayer Lindsley paid $2.5 million for mining claims in the area and created Falconbridge Nickel Mines Limited. The new company took immediate steps to work the claims, and despite the stock market crash of 1929 it was able to sink a shaft and begin to develop the mine, as well as build a smelter. Falconbridge still had to refine the ore, however, and the International Nickel Company of Canada (INCO) retained the North American rights to refining technologies.

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Inco Limited History (1902- 2001) – by International Directory of Company Histories

For a large selection of corporate histories click: International Directory of Company Histories

Company History:

Inco Limited is one of the world’s top producers of nickel. It operates Canada’s largest mining and processing operation in Sudbury, Ontario, and runs other mines in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Indonesia. It has interests in refineries in Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, and sales and operations in over 40 countries worldwide. Overall Inco provides about 25 percent of the nickel used globally. The company also produces cobalt, copper, precious metals, and specialty nickel products.

Early Years

Nickel was first isolated as an element in the middle of the 18th century, but not until the following century did it come into demand as a coin metal. Up to around 1890, coining remained the metal’s only use, and most of the world’s nickel was mined by Le Nickel, a Rothschild company, on the island of New Caledonia. At that time, however, it was determined that steel made from an iron-nickel alloy could be rolled into exceptionally hard plates, called armor plate, for warships, tanks, and other military vehicles, and the resulting surge in demand spurred a worldwide search for nickel deposits.

The world’s largest nickel deposit ever discovered was in Ontario’s Sudbury Basin; before long, one of the area’s big copper mining companies, Canadian Copper, began shipping quantities of nickel to a U.S. refinery in Bayonne, New Jersey, the Orford Copper Company.

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The Charges Against Big Nickel [in 1946 by U.S. government] – by Richard Mills (Jun 9, 2011)

Richard Mills owns no shares of any companies mentioned in this report and none are advertisers on his site www.aheadoftheherd.com

As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information

In 1946, in New York City, the Anti-Trust Division of the Department of Justice filed a complaint against Inco and its wholly owned U.S. subsidiary, International Nickel Co. Inc.

Canada’s Inco, at the time, owned 90% of the world’s nickel ore and supplied 90% of U.S. nickel needs.

The charges brought were:

■Conspiracy to prevent competition in the nickel industry
■Fixing prices
■Making cartel agreements with I. G. Farbenindustrie, A. G. and two French companies to prevent competition and peg prices in the world market

The Department of Justice said the nickel industry ceased to be competitive earlier in the century when Charles Schwab arranged a merger between Canadian companies with nickel ore and U.S. companies with the chemical process for separating nickel from copper. Holdings of this combine were consolidated under Inco, Ltd. in 1928.

How ironic that in 2010 the US did not have any active nickel mines. Nickel has a very interesting history and is still extremely important in the everyday functioning of our modern economies.

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