MRO Magazine

Old mining camp mineral rich, but ‘we need an operator’

October 23, 2023 | By John Chilibeck

New Brunswick politicians are not getting all that excited about a new drilling and exploration program in the Bathurst area, despite the hint it could one day become a mining powerhouse again.

On Monday, Canadian Metals Inc. announced exploration plans on multiple properties near the old Bathurst Mining Camp where zinc, copper and lead were mined for more than a half century up until 2013.

The historical operations enriched Bathurst and created scores of jobs.

“There’s mining exploration all the time by our place,” said Rene Legacy, MLA of Bathurst West-Beresford and the new deputy leader of the Liberal opposition. “It is still a very mineral-rich area and that’s why there’s lots of activity. What concerns me more is, we need an operator for the old Caribou mine. Because these guys go in and try to find some sort of deposit, to resell or up their stock, but that’s not putting anyone to work or getting a mine operating.”


The publicly-traded company said in a release it had discovered gold deposits last year and intends on reporting results of trenching done in the Clarinda extension, east of the city, in the coming weeks. It also plans to begin exploration drilling there.

In addition, Canadian Metals said it would further explore the nearby Goldstrike, Nicholas Denys and Sedex properties for silver and gold. In the Mountain Brook and Oxford properties within the same part of northeastern New Brunswick, it will continue to search for zinc, lead and silver.

The company did not return a request for further comment.

Legacy was not the only one seemingly underwhelmed by the exploration announcement. Bathurst Mayor Kim Chamberlain declined an interview request, with city spokesman Luc Foulem saying she would only comment when a significant announcement was made, such as plans for a new or revitalized mine.

Likewise, Mike Holland, the minister of natural resources and resource development, was not made available for an interview.

Instead, his department issued a statement welcoming mineral exploration in the Bathurst area.

“Mining and mineral exploration create many good-paying jobs directly and indirectly for the province and are an important part of the provincial economy,” spokesperson Nick Brown wrote in an email.

“The area you are inquiring about was home to one of the largest underground base metal mines in the world, and continues to support a strong mineral exploration sector today. Although these sites are located in the same area as the Caribou and Restigouche mines, they are not associated with that property.”

Legacy said plenty of prospectors come up with promising findings in the area, but it never seems to be enough to get a mine going again.

He also pointed out the Caribou mine that Trevali Mining Corporation shuttered last year after it went bankrupt has left the provincial government on the hook for clean up and maintenance costs.

Toxic effluent water at the mine about 55 kilometres southwest of Bathurst will cost the province an estimated $1 million annually if it doesn’t find a new mine operator.

“We still have a lot of people who work in the industry, but they’re doing fly-in, fly-out right now to jobs elsewhere,” Legacy said. “So as soon as one of those mines opens up, they’ll work closer to home again. And it would also create a new generation of miners. We’re in danger of losing the knowledge of mining we’ve built in 50 years. We are world-class, and we want to keep that.”

Canadian Metals bills itself as being dedicated to the development of large-scale mineral deposits. The company has 28,822 hectares of prospecting land in New Brunswick within and bordering the old Bathurst Mining Camp, roughly an area the size of the City of Saint John.

Its stock on the Canadian Securities Exchange hit a peak on May 6, 2016 at $3.80 a share before gradually sinking to near-worthless territory in the summer of 2022.
By John Chilibeck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, THE DAILY GLEANER


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