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.
I’m learning about the mining industry in Manitoba and blogging about what I learn. In a previous blog post I talked about the geography and history of mining in Manitoba and I looked at what is mined and where.
THE MOST PROMINENT MINING ACTIVITY IN MANITOBA
Although there is mining activity throughout the province, the most prominent mining activity in Manitoba occurs in one specific area: An area that is commonly called “the Flin Flon camp” or “the Flin Flon-Snow Lake camp” (named after two communities in the area). A slightly more technical name (that I prefer) is “the Flin Flon-Snow Lake Greenstone Belt”.
You might recall this map from a previous blog post…
The Flin Flon-Snow Lake Greenstone belt is the largest area I’ve highlighted — an area where copper-zinc and gold are mined. (Nickel, silver, and lead are also found there too).
Size, shape, and scope: The area of the greenstone belt is 250 kilometers (155 miles) long and 75 kilometers (46 miles) wide and straddles the boundary between Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Flin Flon is the largest of several communities in the area with a population of over 5,000 on the Manitoba side. Mining is the main industry.
Interesting fact: The town got its name after a science fiction character. A prospector who discovered the area and built a mine called “Flin Flon” which later became a town. Watch the 3 minute video that talks more about it…
Geology of the area: The Flin Flon-Snow Lake Greenstone Belt is a Precambrian greenstone belt formed by volcanic activity. Specifically, it’s a bimodal-mafic classification of a volanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) ore deposit. (Yeah, I had to read that a couple of times, too). These belts frequently yield mineral combinations based around copper-zinc — copper-zinc-gold, copper-zinc-lead, copper-zinc-silver, copper-zinc-nickel (and a number of other minerals in less abundance). For some instructive (but not too overwhelming reading), start with the following Wikipedia sites (and of course check out their reference section for more detail if you want more than a brief overview): Flin Flon Greenstone Belt, Greenstone Belts, and Volcanogenic Massive Sulfide Ore Deposits.
This greenstone belt is one of the largest in the world. It contains 27 ore deposits and 183 million metric tonnes of sulfide ore have been mined here so far. There are several other greenstone belts. You’ve probably heard of the Abitibi Greenstone Belt, from which over 170 million ounces of gold have been mined since 1901. Manitoba has another greenstone belt — the Bird River Greenstone Belt — in the southeastern part of the province, which seems to be an extension of the mineral-rich belt in northwestern Ontario.
History of the area: Mineral deposits were first discovered in 1914 by prospector Tom Creighton (who gave the name “Flin Flon” to the area). The Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company Limited was in full production in the area by 1930. Today, HudBay (the name of the parent company that acquired Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company Limited) is the largest employer in the area. Their flagship mine — the 777 mine — is a copper-zinc mine (which also produces some gold and silver). One of the sources who I interviewed while researching these Mining in Manitoba posts considers the 777 mine to be one of the biggest achievements in the Manitoba mining industry.
What is mined there: The most common mineral is copper-zinc. Some gold, silver, nickel, and diamonds have also been mined there. The area is best known for copper-zinc but there are several gold explorers active in the area.
Closing thoughts: The Flin Flon-Snow Lake Greenstone Belt is an interesting mining area but it is not as well known on the world scale as other belts. It has a strong history of mining and continues to be pro-mining today. There is plenty of infrastructure to support the mines and as long as it is economic to do so, I think we’ll see further development in the area. In future blog posts, I’ll examine some of the companies who are active in the area.