Southern Ontario Adds $3 Billion to Mineral Field
By Gregory Reynolds
Most of the time when the mining industry enters a conversation, it is centred on the vast expanse of Northern Ontario with its fabled silver and gold and the province’s only diamond mine.
Yet, Southern Ontario had an estimated 5,000 people directly employed in mineral extraction and on-site processing plants in 2014.
Ontario non-metallic mineral production in 2014 was valued at $3 billion, representing 27% of the total value of mineral production in the province.
Five of the province’s top 10 commodities produced in 2014 were non-metallic minerals. Most of this production came from southern Ontario mines and quarries.
During 2014, there were over 100 mineral extraction operations in Southern Ontario, including 15 industrial mineral operations, 3 trap rock producers, 7 cement producer’s quarries, 7 brick producer’s quarries, 3 gemstone and mineral specimen sites and 64 dimension-stone quarries.
All Ontario production of salt, gypsum/wallboard, natural gas and petroleum, shale/brick, lime/dolime, cement, nepheline, and the majority of dimension stone, sand and gravel comes from the Southern Ontario Region.
Information comes from the Report of Activities 2014, Resident Geologist Program, Southern Ontario Regional Resident Geologist Report: Southeastern Ontario and Southwestern Ontario Districts and Petroleum Operations; Ontario Geological Survey.
Canadian Wollastonite is a privately held company incorporated in Ontario in 2001. The company owns just over 110 ha encompassing a large portion of the St. Lawrence wollastonite deposit north of Kingston near the community of Seeley’s Bay.
In December 2012, the closure plan was accepted by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and Canadian Wollastonite began to bring the deposit into production.
In 2013, the first year of production, the company crushed and shipped over 6500 t of wollastonite clear stone and sand products to metallurgical and agricultural markets.
The company also won approval for use of its primary ancillary ore - orthogneiss - as a Superpave™ aggregate in highway road construction. The deposit is the southernmost approved source of Superpave™ aggregates in Ontario and is well situated to supply the Eastern Ontario market.
In 2014, the company introduced wollastonite (calcium silicate) and diopside (calcium magnesium silicate) products into the local Ontario horticultural market as well as into the northeastern United States as a single source of calcium, magnesium and silica.
Wollastonite and diopside are both non-carbon dioxide–producing sources of these three elements, which are important to plant health and disease resistance. The company is also selling ore into the synthetic slag market.
Plans for construction of an on-site beneficiation plant have been postponed until a joint venture partner with technical expertise and distribution channels has been found.
Ontario’s Southern Ontario Mining Region comprises the Southeastern Ontario and Southwestern Ontario Mining Districts.
The region encompasses the most populous part of the province and includes both the provincial and national capitals.
The region stretches over 700 km from the Canada–United States border in the west, through the southern Great Lakes (lakes Huron, Erie and Ontario) and along the St. Lawrence River to the Ontario–Quebec border in the east.
The northern boundary of the region cuts across Georgian Bay striking westward north of Lake Simcoe, including Algonquin Park and neighbouring townships, ending at the Ottawa River and the Province of Quebec.
From Paleozoic sedimentary rocks to the metamorphic terranes of the Central Metasedimentary Belt and Central Gneiss Belt, the region hosts some of the most diverse and productive geology in the province.
Production from mines and quarries continued throughout Southern Ontario within both the Grenville Province and in the Paleozoic rocks in the southwest and southeast.
With the exception of salt mining and brine field operations in Southwestern Ontario, all mining operations within the Paleozoic rocks are for commodities the development of which is designated under the Aggregate Resources Act administered by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
In 2014, a total of 68 claims, comprising 414 16-hectare claim units, were recorded. This represents a decrease in claim units recorded of over 20% from the previous year.
The majority of recording activity was related to the acquisition of graphite and other industrial mineral prospects. Claim staking in subdivided townships in the region follows a map-staking system introduced in 2011.