Minnesota’s Soudan mine now produces awe instead of ore – by Ann Wessel (St. Cloud Times – September 20, 2014)


The mine that once produced the most pure iron ore in the U.S. closed more than 50 years ago. Soudan Underground Mine State Park interpreter James Juip is among those who make a living there today.

SOUDAN – James Juip makes his living underground. The 2006 Cathedral High School grad wears a hard hat, headlamp, bib overalls and flannel shirt when he descends the half-mile into Soudan Underground Mine. He dresses the part. He relays the history. He’s even had late-night home visits from former mine workers who want to tell him their stories.

But his experience is far different from that of the miners who chipped a living out of the rich veins of iron ore under the surface. He walks a well-lit path, for one thing.

Back in the day when candles provided the only illumination underground and miners had to pay for those candles, they conserved their resources and walked the three-quarters of a mile in the dark. About 20 languages were spoken. Miners sang on the way to work to keep track of each other. At peak production in the 1890s, Soudan employed 2,000 people below ground and as many above. Soudan produced the most pure iron; before 1950, all steel produced in the U.S. contained some Soudan ore.

“For a long time, you could not make high-grade steel produced in this country without using ore from Soudan,” Juip said after a day of tours.

Read more

When coal was king: Drumheller’s Atlas coal mine takes visitors back in time – by Karan Smith (Canadian Geolgraphic Travel – Summer 2014)


TWO. ONE.” CLICK. We all turn off our headlamps. And it’s dark in here. Really dark. I reach for my daughter’s hand. Above our heads is 12 metres of earth; ahead of us, the mouth of the mine. We’re walking up the angled ramp of the underground gantry in the Atlas coal mine. Alongside us is the wide rubberized canvas belt that once carried the chunks of coal shovelled out of the mine, in East Coulee, Alta., to homes across Canada.

As we click our lights back on, our guide, Chelsea Saltys, an area local and engineering student, tells the story of a young miner named Eric Houghton, who slipped one rainy day on the wet links between the coal cars. He fell underneath the moving train and was severely hurt: broken hip and leg, punctured lung, crushed ribs. After a shot of morphine and a cigarette, he made it to the hospital, then spent months in traction. When he got out of the hospital, he got a job at the Banff Springs Hotel as a night watchman. Physiotherapy was climbing the stairs at the grand resort. But the black gold called him back and he returned for his old job. “It goes to show you what these men were made of,” says Saltys.

THERE’S A KIND OF DESOLATE BEAUTY that comes with abandoned towns. Driving along the hoodoo-lined highway to the Atlas coal mine, the eight-storey wooden tipple, once used to load coal into railway cars, stands out as a landmark. It’s the last wooden tipple in Canada and a national historic site.

(You might have seen it on last summer’s Amazing Race Canada, where contestants competed to load a two-tonne coal car.) On the site, rusting trucks from the 1940s are permanently parked. A narrow gauge track runs in front, evidence of the railway’s role here.

Read more

Suites offer comfort for weary business travellers [Cobalt mining tourism] – by Lindsay Kelly (Northern Ontario Business – July 29, 2014)

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North.

To say it was impulse for Nicole Guertin to purchase a century-old mansion while on a brief 2003 visit to Haileybury is a gross understatement.

But Guertin, who, along with her partner, Jocelyn Blais, is the proprietor of Presidents’ Suites and Prospector’s House guest homes, was so struck by the beauty and history of Temiskaming, she followed through on her instinct.

“A lot of people in the North — Timmins, Kapuskasing — we come down and we’re always in a hurry; we never come through Haileybury, so we don’t know what’s here,” said Guertin, who hails from Kapuskasing. “It was really the first time I came here, and I was surprised how beautiful it was.”

The house isn’t like any other. The rambling mansion overlooking Lake Temiskaming along Millionaires’ Row was built in 1906 by Arthur Ferland, a mining bigwig who struck it rich during the Cobalt silver-mining boom. His wealth was reinvested into the original Timmins gold discovery and helped build the industry there.

Despite the home’s grandeur, it required a lot of work to bring it up to a high standard, and when zoning complications thwarted Guertin’s original plan for a B&B, she opted for suites instead, completely gutting the home and rebuilding it one room at a time.

Read more

Chile creates Mining Tourist Route – by Carolina Contreras (Infosurhoy.com – April 16, 2014)


In 2015, tourists can see mining developments, learn copper extraction and refining and marvel at the size of the machinery used in large-scale mining.

ANTOFAGASTA, Chile – Beaches, mountains, desert and the Patagonia are some of Chile’s biggest tourist attractions. But in 2015, the country will add a new one: mines in Chile’s northern region, such as Chuquicamata – the largest surface mine in the world that’s in the Antofagasta region – 1,585 kilometers north of the nation’s capital of Santiago.

The excavation area, which is 4.5 kilometers long, 3.5 kilometers wide and 1.1 kilometers deep, is one of Chile’s main mines.

The South American country is the world’s largest copper exporter, with 5.77 million metric tons of annual production and exports worth US$43.1 billion in 2013, according to the Mining Council, which represents the country’s largest mining companies.

Beginning in 2015, Chuquicamata, along with 23 other mines, will be open to tourists as the main attraction on the Mining Tourism Route, created by the Antofagasta Regional Branch of the National Tourism Service (Sernatur) in collaboration with mining companies and the Regional Ministerial Secretariat for Mining.

Read more

Canada Travel: Britannia Mine Museum a fine family spot in British Columbia – by Camille Bains (Canadian Press/Toronto Star – May 23, 2013)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Kids can pan for gold and explore the history of gold mining at this museum on the Sea to Sky Highway between Vancouver and Whistler, B.C.

BRITANNIA BEACH, B.C.—A big yellow dump truck along the Sea to Sky highway is no match for the mountains-and-ocean view between Vancouver and Whistler, but curious travellers would be in for a treat if they stopped at an adjoining museum that holds the secrets of a bygone era.

The Britannia Mine Museum features the history of the copper mine that was once the largest in the British Empire and employed 60,000 workers between 1904 and 1974, when it was closed.

The museum that made its debut the following year and is a national historic site has been steadily expanding since then.
Besides a kids’ play area and a gold-panning station that’s a huge hit, the museum includes a guided train tour of a former service tunnel, similar to the 210-kilometre tunnels where workers toiled six days a week.

Guide Isabelle Akerhielm warns visitors in hard hats that the tunnel will go dark for a few seconds “and you won’t be able to see your hand in front of your face, guaranteed.”

Read more