History of Coal Mining in Nova Scotia
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Dept. Mines




Halifax, February 26th, 1873.

SIR,--I have the honor to submit for the information of His Honor the Lieutenant Governor, the Annual Report for the year 1872, respecting the Mines of this Province.

It is gratifying to be enable to report a large increase in the coal trade during the past year, resulting from the reduction of duty on coal in the United States, and the advance in price of iron and coal in Great Britain. There has also been an increased demand at Halifax for coal for steam ships, arising from the same causes. In several markets hitherto altogether supplied from Great Britain, Nova Scotia coal now sells readily at remunerative prices.

In the year 1871, 596,1418 tons of coal were sold; in the year 1872, 785,914, being an increase of 189,496 tons, the details of which are shown by the usual statistical tables hereto annexed, to which attention is invited.

From the nature of the returns hereto made to the Department by the Coal Mining Companies, it is not possible to ascertain the countries to which our coal is exported, or the respective quantities shipped to each, but in future they will furnish this desirable information.

Explorations for coal have been made in the Spring Hill region, Cumberland County, by the Exploration Company, Messrs. McFarlane, Livesey and others, proving beyond doubt, that on completion of the projected railways, it will become one of the most important mining districts in the Province.

Although the yield of gold per ton of quartz crushed, and the average earning per man employed in gold mining are larger than that of last year, yet there has been a decrease in the aggregate amount of gold obtained, in the number of men employed, and in the number of mines worked this year. This decrease is principally owing to the high price and scarcity of labor, and to other causes mentioned in the Report of the Inspector of Mines, which it is unnecessary here to recapitulate. Gold mining during the past year has been chiefly confined to mines previously opened. A mine was opened at Harrigan Cove, and another at Shear's Point, both in the eastern part of Halifax County. The first mentioned is owned by Mr. Samuel Smith, who has placed a crusher of eight stamps and other appliances on the ground, and is working his mine vigorously. From the appearance of many lodes exposed by a large amount of cross cutting and the returns from the crusher since December, it is expected that it will prove remunerative. The mine at Shear's Point has not been so fully prospected, but some quartz from it crushed at Mr. Smith's mill has yielded a good return. These are the only gold mines opened in new districts during the year.

The same causes that have given an impetus to the coal trade have brought our iron ores into notice. Numerous licenses with the object of searching for iron ore have been issued, and extensive explorations have been made, in some instances successfully.

In licenses to search and work issued by this department, the right is granted to search for, and work all mines and minerals other than gold; in the leases, there is only granted the right to mine for one stated mineral. In some of the areas granted under lease to mine for coal is found an argillacious iron ore, which ore the holders of the coal mining lease have no right to mine, and for which right applications have been made by others than the coal mining lessees, if it should be considered advisable to lease such situated iron mines, there will be some legislation required to secure the interests of the present lessees and to prevent collision.

From the circumstances that the above-named ores are found in beds conformably interstratified with the beds of coal I think it would be advisable not to grant separate leases, but to give the right to mine the iron to the holders of the lease to mine for coal on such terms and conditions as may seem nesessary.

The act entitled "An Act to Consolidate the Statutes relating to Mines and Minerals," passed the fourteenth day of June, l869, contains many ambiguities and inconsistencies, and demands amendment in many particulars. This act and the acts passed in amendment being the whole law in force in this Province relative to Mines and Minerals, are almost wholly confined to the management of mining titles, returns and collection of rents and royalties. An act is urgently required similar to that enacted in Great Britain in 1872 for securing the skilful and economic working of mines, and making it imperative that all practicable precaution be adopted to prevent accident to the employees.

It was discovered through surveys made for railways and other purposes that the maps of Cumberland County, used in connection with the Mines Department, were incorrect. A large tract of country between Spring Hill and the Joggin's is leased or covered by licenses to search and work, the boundary lines being based on three or four starting points, and to prevent confnsion and future dispute, it was deemed proper that these points should be correctly fixed. Professor Hind, at the instance of the Government, undertook to have the necessary surveys made, and had them completed by John Oram, Esq., Professor of Mathematics of King's College. Professor Hind's Report has been printed. A correct map of the locality has been made, showing the required points on which will be marked the areas under lease or license. There is now a difficulty in ascertaining the boundaries of mining areas, in consequence of the courses in all surveys having been given according to the magnetic meridian. True meridian lines have never been set up in this Province. All surveys of Crown Lands and Milling areas have been made by the magnet, and consequently when a corner mark is destroyed or lost, it is almost impossible to find the exact point again. Illustrative of this, Professor Hind states that he found a tree marked as the starting point for the survey of the General Mining Association's area at Spring Hill, but at the corners several different bounds were shown made by different surveyors, who had attempted to run the lines of the area beginning at this tree. As this area has been made the basis for the description of the surrounding ones, this variation of courses may cause difficulty. I would suggest that true meridian base lines be set up, at least near the principal mining centres, so that surveyors can test the variation of their instruments on making surveys. This should be followed by a survey of the lines of all areas under license to work or lease, as soon as convenient, and the courses taken on the basis of the true meridian. Such a survey is difficult even now, but it will become more difficult to accomplish, the longer it is left undone.

The increased activity in the coal trade created a corresponding demand for labor, which this Province could not supply, and in consequence wages became higher, and ships engaged in exporting coal were unduly detained. Unless a sufficiency of miners be obtained the opportunities now offered for securing permanently the markets lately opened to us, will be greatly lessened.

The usual report of the Inspector of Mines is subjoined, and contains besides the customary information on the general condition of the Gold and Coal Mines, several suggestions by him, deemed worthy of serious consideration, to which I beg to call attention.

Dr. Honeyman continues to make additions to the geological and mineralogical collections in the Provincial Museum. Under his able management this institution is becoming more useful and interesting. His report appended gives a detailed description of these additions and other interesting information.

I cannot close this report without paying a tribute of respect to the memory of my predecessor, the late Honorable William Garvie, a gentleman who was as much admired for his talents and accomplishments, as he was esteemed for his moral worth. His death has deprived us of one of our most promising public men, and his premature decease is deeply regretted by all Nova Scotians.


To the Hon.. W. B. VAIL,
Provincial Secretary.

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Last Modified: 99-04-16

Originally Printed by: The Citizen Publishing Company

The information contained on this site is not provided for the purpose of factual
representation. Instead, it is provided in an historical context. Every effort has
been made to ensure that this information represents the actual content
of the published Nova Scotia Department of Mines annual reports.
Nevertheless, no warranties are provided in any respect.

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