Shaft sinking from 1900 to 1940: start of the Modern Era
Mine shafts sunk during 1900 to 1940 in North America were almost all rectangular, timbered shafts while in Europe nearly all were circular and lined with brickwork or concrete. The reason for this was ground conditions. The majority of North American shafts were sunk in hard, competent rock. In Europe, on the other hand, the majority of the shafts sunk were in soft sedimentary rock, often with major water-bearing strata.
This was a busy period for shaft sinkers in a number of areas in the world. In the Ruhr district of Germany alone over 200 shafts were sunk: 124 shafts (1904–1914); 71 shafts (1915–1932); 13 shafts (1933–1940).
This was also an exciting time for the Canadian mining industry, with many of the famous mining camps opening up from 1900 to 1940. After the discovery of silver in Cobalt, Ontario, in 1903, prospectors ranged widely over the Precambrian areas of Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. In Ontario and Quebec, Abitibi and Larder Lake were discovered in 1906, Porcupine in 1909, Swastika in 1910, Kirkland Lake in 1911, Matachewan in 1916, Rouyn-Noranda in 1924 and Red Lake in 1925.
In Manitoba, the Rice Lake district was discovered in 1911, and in the Northwest Territories the deposits in the sediments in the Yellowknife area were discovered in 1933 and those in the greenstones in 1935. In Saskatchewan, the Box and Athona mines were discovered in 1934 and three shafts were sunk at these properties in the La Ronge gold belt.