An overview of the geology and history of mining in Manitoba

Disclaimer: I am an investment writer with an interest in the resource industry. I am not a Professional Geologist or licensed financial advisor. I do own investments in some Manitoba-based mining companies and will disclose this information when relevant. Please always do your own due diligence before making any decisions that affect your portfolio.

 

In my last blog post, Digging into Manitoba’s resource industry, I mentioned that I was going to take a closer look at metals and mining in the province where I live. Mining is a significant activity here but there aren’t many people following it.

Where’s the best place to start when looking at the mining industry of any region? The geology and history of the area is, in my opinion, pretty key to understanding where we are today.

What follows is a brief overview the geological and historical factors that influence the mining industry in Manitoba.

A note about sources: Most (but not all) information came from the Mineral Resources Division of the Manitoba Government. I have linked to their pages where relevant. They have SO MUCH valuable information and I see my initial blogging effort as distilling what they have into something easy and accessible to others. So if you ever want more information or to go deeper, be sure to visit their website.

GEOLOGY OF MANITOBA

The area of rock that we now call Manitoba is mostly Precambrian rock (specifically, the Canadian Shield) covered by sedimentary rocks that were deposited in different time periods.

Manitoba is roughly divided into 4 geological areas (and those areas are further sub-divided). At the most basic level, Manitoba’s geological areas are: The Superior Province, the Trans-Hudson Orogen, the Hudson Bay Basin, and the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin. Mineral exploration is conducted in all four areas.

Here is a simplified map I put together of the four areas of Manitoba’s geology:

If you want some excellent and far more detailed maps, be sure to check out the maps created by the Manitoba Government:

  • Official Highway Map of Manitoba:If you’re not familiar with Manitoba, this is a map of the province (with links to smaller maps of different sections). For your information, most of the province’s population lives in the southern third of the province. This map will also be useful to identify the proximity of infrastructure (roads, power, water, population) that mining companies need to rely on.
  • Geology of Manitoba Map (PDF): This is a more-detailed version of the map I have provided above. It includes more rock-types. It’s a must-read.
  • Geological Survey Map: This is an interactive map that provides more detail about the geological surveys of the province. It’s a hybrid between my basic map and the Geology of Manitoba Map.
  • Geological Domains Map (PDF): This map gives some of the big-picture geological areas that might be considered “mini-mining-districts of Manitoba”.
  • License Map (PDF): This map is a little overwhelming at first, and I’m not sure what all of the zones are and what they mean. I intend to look into this further. But this map does show where there are some mineral exploration licenses and mining claims and restricted areas.
  • GIS Map Gallery: This page gives access to interactive maps of mineral disposition maps, geo-scientific maps, and petroleum maps. It looks very useful but a little more advanced than the information I am looking for right now. I’ve bookmarked this page to go back to it later when I know more.

MANITOBA’S MINING HISTORY

I am presenting highlights of Manitoba’s mining history below but if you want more detail from my sources, here is an easy-to-read downloadable PDF of the history of mining in Manitoba and here is an excellent timeline to provide even more detail.

Prehistory: The aboriginal people of Manitoba are known to have mined in an island located in the area marked with the red dot, below. This area (now called Black Island) contains red rock and the first peoples of the province used this red rock for pigment.

1700s: Exploration for minerals by Europeans goes back to the 1700s when explorers followed up on the aboriginal mining at Black Island.

1800s: In the 1800s, the following minerals were discovered and mined in the area: Salt, limestone, magnetite, dolomite, and coal. In 1890, gold was discovered in Falcon Lake (located at the gold dot, below)…

Manitoba joined Confederation in 1870.

1900s: In the 1900s, the following minerals were discovered and mined: Gypsum, granite, copper, nickel, copper-zinc, copper-nickel, lithium, molybdenum, chromite, tantalum, copper-zinc-gold-silver, and oil.

  • The tantulum produced in Manitoba is from the only tantalum mine in North America
  • I was also surprised to discover that peat moss is included as a significant part of the mining industry. It started being mined in Manitoba in 1939 and continues on today. I’ve never followed peat moss as part of the industry before!

2000s: Today, over 70 companies perform exploration activities in Manitoba and here’s a list of the minerals that are mined in Manitoba and what company mines them.

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