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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gold Occurrences in Ontario


Kidd Creek Mine in Timmins Ontario   P199



The City of Timmins lies about 600 miles north of New York City it is common knowledge to most Americans that the Gold Rush happened in California in 1849, but a far larger gold rush occurred in Porcupine Ontario fifty years later.  Porcupine was later incorporated into the Township of Timmins, but Porcupine still exists complete with a Tim Horton’s shop.  One of the mines, the Dome Mine is still producing gold over a century later from a vast open-pit mine.  The other mines are now closed, but in West Timmins they have recently discovered one of the largest gold deposits of the past century.  It appears they haven’t written the last chapter in the book about Timmins Gold.

Most of the gold found in Ontario is found in the so-called Greenstone Belts the largest of which is the Abitibi reaching all the way from Wawa on Lake Superior into Quebec past Val D’or.  From this one Greenstone Belt there are more then 160,000,000 ounces of gold that have been mined since its discovery in 1909.  This is only one of several Greenstone Belts in the province that has produced gold. 

Gold bearing belts are found in several other localities in Northern Ontario with other notable occurrences at Cochrane, Red Lake, Hemlo, Marathon and so many other places that prospecting for gold in Ontario is practically the same thing as carrying coals to Newcastle. Many of the VMS mines in Ontario produce gold as a byproduct.  One example of this kind of deposit is found in the Kidd Creek Mine to the east of Timmins that was the site of a famous discovery in 1963.  Most of the gold that has been found in Ontario is from hard-rock deposits.

Somebody has said that there has never been a single nugget of placer gold that has been found in the province.  According to an open file report by the Ontario Geological Survey there appears to be a considerable amount of float gold present in the glacial drift of Ontario.  It is probable that placer deposits have not had enough time to develop since the glacier melted.  At any rate the report covers about two hundred pages listing all kinds of places where placer gold and indicator minerals for kimberlites have been found in Ontario.  You can access this document online by going here.

According to the author’s prospecting friends in Ontario all the prospecting done in the province is in hard rock. With the amount of gold that has been discovered that really makes sense. It could be possible that what has worked in the past will work in the future. The possibility of placer mining has not happened because of the scarcity of alluvial gold. Although the Abitibi region of Ontario holds many lode mines, placer deposits are practically non-existent. The glaciers of the past million years took the gold laden soil south and deposited it in states across the American mid-west. These are from New York to Illinois.
Most of the gold of Ontario is found associated with the greenstone belts of the Abitibi and Superior Provinces that span the whole province from Manitoba to Quebec. It is thought that the gold was mobilized from the greenstones that are metamorphosed basalts by hot water. It was deposited in quartz veins that are often found near fault systems.
Another place that gold is found in Ontario is in beds of ancient conglomerate. An example of this type is a large piece of conglomerate on display on the lawn of the library in Timmins. This is probably an ancient placer deposit that has been fossilized. The stones in this piece show little or no sign of having been metamorphosed. It is an example of an Archean sedimentary rock.
Some of the other regions of Ontario that have produced gold is the area around Wawa and Marathon. The Western part of the province is also promising country to prospect. Prospecting in Ontario is not just limited to looking for gold. There is at least one active diamond mine in the James Bay Lowlands, as well as diamond bearing kimberlites found in several places in the province.
Diamonds are often found in the same rivers and streams that carry gold in their sand and gravel deposits. The largest diamond that was ever found in North America was found in a placer deposit.
There are plenty of other minerals that can be found in Ontario as well. These minerals might not be as glamorous as searching for gold, but in many ways they are more important in the modern world. Among them are copper, lead, zinc, nickel, iron, lithium, beryllium, niobium, tantalum and the rare earth elements. The platinum group metals are often found associated with copper, cobalt and nickel.
If there is anyplace where people have looked in Ontario for mineral wealth they have found it. The province maintains a very active geological survey that holds vast amounts of knowledge concerning the mineral wealth of Ontario.

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