Manitoba is one of Canada’s most productive mining provinces producing a variety of minerals in the numerous mines that are still active up to date. The province produces gold, zinc, copper and nickel at high volumes ranking it among the most productive provinces in the region. Although it has been over a century since gold was discovered here near Rice Lake, more investment and prospecting still continues as more gold is still expected to be found here.
Active gold mines are still producing gold, and claims that were staked eons ago still produce a handsome amount of gold as well. This is a common story around the Canadian Shield, an area that accounts for expansive and rich mineral deposits.
First Gold Strikes in Manitoba
Back in 1900, the Geological Survey of Canada earmarked the region to be rich in gold deposits. This was more than enough to spark a gold rush to the province as prospectors and entrepreneurs packed up and went in in search of the next Klondike gold rush. It is the story of Eprem Albert Pelletier, who had resigned from the Royal Northwest Mounted Police, leaving his job in law enforcement to begin prospecting, and Arthur Quesnel an entrepreneur that tells of how gold was discovered in one of the most productive areas in the region.
Pelletier’s first claim was the Ojibwa claim. However this only marked the beginning of his successful prospecting activities. He would later meet with an Indian trapper named Twohearts who was able to help him collect rock samples during his trapping activities. One of the samples the Indian trapper sent proved to be quite interesting to Pelletier and he decided to travel to the Indian’s village at Turtle Lake in a bid to find out exactly where the sample had been obtained from. Twohearts led them to an area close to Rice Lake, where he pointed out the specific rock that he had obtained the rock from.
Pelletier was able to lay the snow covered rock bare and found traces of gold. He staked the claim and named it Gabriele. This was followed by the staking of the San Antonio claim by Pelletier’s assistant Alex Desautels. However, Pelletier would later acquire the claim after Desautels had registered it as he had no interest in mining and prospecting.
Pelletier had been prevented by the laws back then from making a claim twenty days after another had been made in his name. This meant that to legally acquire the mine he had to let his assistant register it in his name and then acquire it from him. Something he was able to do at the cost of a dollar.
It is these claims made around Rice Lake that led to the establishment of the San Antonio Gold Mines, one of the largest gold mining operations in all of Manitoba.
Read: Natural Gold Indicators
Other Minerals and Mines in Manitoba
The Mandy Mine was one of Manitoba’s earliest copper mines. It was worked during the First World War given the demand for the metal during the war. It is recorded that the mine was able to produce a value of around two million dollars of copper during its life. During the Second World War, the mine was brought back to life producing lower grade copper for the war period.
The Sheritt Gordon Mine
This represents yet another copper and zinc mining operation. The claim to the deposits at the mine were made as early as 1922 but due to the remote nature of the area, mining operations did not commence until later in the twenties when a diamond drill was air lifted to the site for the commencement of mining operations. The Second World War created a lot of demand for copper and zinc making the mine viable again.
The Flin Flon Mine
This deposit was discovered by a group of self-financed prospectors from Ontario. Their discovery sparked massive prospecting and subsequent staking of the area. However, it was discovered later that what they though was gold was actually copper and zinc-sulphides. This proved to be quite challenging to exploit as it was located in the remotest of regions and there was no know method of separating the copper and zinc sulphides. However, with the perseverance of the owners, the mine became a success and produced over 32 million tons of metal in its useful life. This was quite rewarding for the owners.
Gold prospecting still continues today with small and large mining companies investing huge sums of money, equipment and man hours in the search. The Rice Lake area is one of the most popular areas in the region for prospecting efforts. If you are looking to find gold in the area, it is best to work in areas surrounding the regions off the older mines as gold deposits are bound to still be in close proximity.