The first prospectors typically looked for gold along stream beds and shorelines, using water and a simple gold pan to separate flakes or small nuggets of gold from the surrounding pebbles and grit. Rock and sand from the stream bed or shoreline beaches were put in the pan with a small amount of water and swirled around and shaken. Since gold is six times heavier than most other types of rock, the tiny pieces of gold would sink to the bottom of the pan, and the lighter material would be gently washed over the sides. The miners were using gravity to separate the gold from the sands and gravel. This method was very time-consuming and usually yielded only very small amounts of gold.

To speed things up and to increase their chances of finding gold, miners started to use shovels, picks, crowbars, and hammers to dig up and crush quartz. They built sluice boxes, cradles or rocker boxes that allowed them to process larger quantities of crushed rock. Water was poured in to wash away the sand and pebbles. The heavier gold would fall to the bottom of the instrument and catch in specially designed riffles and ridges.

These methods were used for placer mining, which extra Read More
The first prospectors typically looked for gold along stream beds and shorelines, using water and a simple gold pan to separate flakes or small nuggets of gold from the surrounding pebbles and grit. Rock and sand from the stream bed or shoreline beaches were put in the pan with a small amount of water and swirled around and shaken. Since gold is six times heavier than most other types of rock, the tiny pieces of gold would sink to the bottom of the pan, and the lighter material would be gently washed over the sides. The miners were using gravity to separate the gold from the sands and gravel. This method was very time-consuming and usually yielded only very small amounts of gold.

To speed things up and to increase their chances of finding gold, miners started to use shovels, picks, crowbars, and hammers to dig up and crush quartz. They built sluice boxes, cradles or rocker boxes that allowed them to process larger quantities of crushed rock. Water was poured in to wash away the sand and pebbles. The heavier gold would fall to the bottom of the instrument and catch in specially designed riffles and ridges.

These methods were used for placer mining, which extracted gold that was on or near the Earth’s surface. With advances in mining technology, there were new ways to search for gold deeper underground. Much of Nova Scotia’s gold is in deep quartz veins. When a vein was found, miners would dig a tunnel or shaft down into the earth that followed the direction of the vein in the rock. Blasting and digging mine shafts was also slow and labourious work, but the potential returns were much higher.

In smaller mines, the heavy work was usually done by hand. Buckets, carts, pulleys, and wheelbarrows were used to move the quartz to the surface. Sometimes horses or oxen were used to pull winches or turn huge stone wheels to carry the ore to the surface or crush rock. Eventually, more efficient crushers and stamp mills were developed that mechanized the process of crushing quartz. These mills were powered by water or steam. Steam engines also ran pumps that drained large quantities of water from deep mine shafts.

Once the quartz ore was crushed to sand-sized particles, chemical processes were used to extract the particles of gold. In the stamp mill, mercury was added to the crushed ore as it acts to “catch” the gold as it moved through a series of sloped sluices. This is known as the mercury amalgam gold extraction method. Every week or two the mills were shut down so that the amalgam of gold and mercury could be removed. This amalgam then had to be further processed to separate the two metals. It was poured into a large cotton cloth or chamois leather bag, which was gathered at the top and twisted to squeeze out most of the mercury. The remaining amalgam then had to be heated to evaporate the rest of the mercury, leaving behind the gold. The mercury vapor was captured and condensed back into liquid mercury. The liquid mercury was used again in the stamp mill.

Eventually, cyanidization replaced amalgamation as a way to extract gold. A mixture of lime and cyanide was used to dissolve the crushed quartz, and then the ore was filtered. Zinc had to be added to the remaining liquid to allow the gold to separate and settle. Variations of this method are still the most widely used in gold mining. Cyanide is much more effective than mercury at “catching” the gold.

Today, as well, there are still individual prospectors staking claims and panning for gold in Nova Scotia, using a combination of muscle power, old technology, and new, idiosyncratic inventions to find and separate gold from quartz. There are also several large mining companies in the process of exploration in the province; all mining companies today use a combination of mechanical and chemical processes to separate gold from the surrounding rock.
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

Photograph of miner Henry Reeves examining a piece of quartz with a gold pan in his lap.

Henry N. Reeves, typical old general miner at Oldham, 1912. Reeves has a gold pan in his lap and is examining a piece of quartz for gold.

E. R. Faribault, Geological Survey of Canada
1912
Oldham, Nova Scotia, CANADA
© 2013, Geological Survey of Canada. All Rights Reserved.


In the early days of Nova Scotian gold mining, prospectors used simple, labor intensive methods to search for gold. Gold panning was the most common technique used to search for placer gold deposits and with gold-bearing quartz vein deposits that were at or near the surface of the earth, or along shallow trenches dug with shovels, picks, and crowbars.

A gold pan looks like a big shallow bowl. Panning for gold uses water and gravity to separate gold flakes or nuggets from sand, gravel and soil. Prospectors shovel some gravel into the bottom of the pan and then swirl it around with some water until all of the lighter material is washed away and the gold, if there is any, is left in the bottom of the pan.

In Nova Scotia today there are a number of prospectors returning to the simple technology of the gold pan to try to strike it rich.
  
In the early days of Nova Scotian gold mining, prospectors used simple, labor intensive methods to search for gold. Gold panning was the most common technique used to search for placer gold deposits and with gold-bearing quartz vein deposits that were at or near the surface of the earth, or along shallow trenches dug with shovels, picks, and crowbars.

A gold pan looks like a big shallow bowl. Panning for gold uses water and gravity to separate gold flakes or nuggets from sand, gravel and soil. Prospectors shovel some gravel into the bottom of the pan and then swirl it around with some water until all of the lighter material is washed away and the gold, if there is any, is left in the bottom of the pan.

In Nova Scotia today there are a number of prospectors returning to the simple technology of the gold pan to try to strike it rich.
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

A sluice box was a labour-saving improvement over gold panning, and used the same principles of water and gravity. A sluice box – sometimes called a “long tom” – was a long narrow box usually made out of wood, lined with a series of wooden riffles or ridges. Sluice boxes were anywhere from half a metre to three metres long. The box was placed in a shallow part of the stream and tilted downhill slightly. Gravel from the stream bed was shoveled into the upstream end of the box. The flow of the water washed the lighter sand and silt over the riffles, along the length of the box and back into the stream, while tiny flakes and nuggets of gold were caught in front of the riffles. At the end of the day the contents remaining between the riffles of the sluice boxes would be emptied into a bucket. This material was much enriched in gold but still had to be panned out. It was much less labour-intensive than panning everything that had been dug up at the start of the day.
  
A sluice box was a labour-saving improvement over gold panning, and used the same principles of water and gravity. A sluice box – sometimes called a “long tom” – was a long narrow box usually made out of wood, lined with a series of wooden riffles or ridges. Sluice boxes were anywhere from half a metre to three metres long. The box was placed in a shallow part of the stream and tilted downhill slightly. Gravel from the stream bed was shoveled into the upstream end of the box. The flow of the water washed the lighter sand and silt over the riffles, along the length of the box and back into the stream, while tiny flakes and nuggets of gold were caught in front of the riffles. At the end of the day the contents remaining between the riffles of the sluice boxes would be emptied into a bucket. This material was much enriched in gold but still had to be panned out. It was much less labour-intensive than panning everything that had been dug up at the start of the day.
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

Hand-coloured print of Goldwashing in Lunenburg, 1861.

A hand-coloured wood engraving of "Goldwashing near Lunenburg", published in the "Illustrated London News", October 5, 1861. Based on a drawing by Captain Campbell Hardy. In 1861, 150 individuals secured several prospecting claims on a beach at the base of a large cliff at The Ovens, just outside the town of Lunenburg. Captain Campbell Hardy explained to The Illustrated London News readers that "This golden harvest, easily reached with the usual appliances of cradles, tubs, and tin washers."

Captain Campbell Hardy, Unknown
1861-10-05
The Ovens, Nova Scotia, CANADA
Hand coloured wood engraving on paper
16.0 x 24.0 cm
1995.452
© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.


Cradles or rocker boxes use the same principle of gravity as gold panning and sluicing does. It physically separates gold from other materials, based on its greater weight. Rocker boxes could process more crushed ore with less effort than gold panning or sluicing.

Cradles or rocker boxes were usually set up next to streams and rivers because they required water to operate, though much less than sluice boxes. A sieve was fitted on top to keep large pieces of rock out of the box. A small amount of water was added to the crushed ore, and the mud –called “slurry”– was swirled or shaken by an attached handle. The handle rocked the whole box back and forth, which is how this tool got both of its names. The gold collected on the bottom of the box; other material washed away. The bottom of the box was usually lined with riffles to help catch the tiny pieces of gold.
  
Cradles or rocker boxes use the same principle of gravity as gold panning and sluicing does. It physically separates gold from other materials, based on its greater weight. Rocker boxes could process more crushed ore with less effort than gold panning or sluicing.

Cradles or rocker boxes were usually set up next to streams and rivers because they required water to operate, though much less than sluice boxes. A sieve was fitted on top to keep large pieces of rock out of the box. A small amount of water was added to the crushed ore, and the mud –called “slurry”– was swirled or shaken by an attached handle. The handle rocked the whole box back and forth, which is how this tool got both of its names. The gold collected on the bottom of the box; other material washed away. The bottom of the box was usually lined with riffles to help catch the tiny pieces of gold.
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

Illustration of what an arrastre looks like.

An arrastre was a simple machine, powered by animals or motors, designed to speed up the crushing of quartz ore. The ore was placed in the bottom of the arrastre over which were placed large rocks. The rocks were ground over the ore, crushing it and releasing the gold.

Andrew Hebda, Nova Scotia Museum.
2012
Nova Scotia, CANADA
© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.


An arrastre was a simple rock crushing mill, made of easily found local materials, and was used in some of the smaller Nova Scotia mines to crush quartz ore. It could be powered by humans, but horses, mules, or oxen were more widely used. A circular pit was bottomed with flat stones. In the center of the pit, a post was attached to long horizontal wooden poles. One or two heavy flat-bottomed stones were attached to one of the poles; the other pole was pushed (by humans) or pulled (by animals) around the circular pit. As they turned, the heavy stones crushed the ore into powder.

The word arrastre comes from a Spanish word, arrastrar, that means “to drag along the ground.” The Spanish brought this technology with them to South America in the 1500s, and it was widely used by prospectors during the California gold rush of the early 1850s. Many people travelled the continent following the boom and bust of successive gold rushes, so technological ideas and advances travelled with them.
  
An arrastre was a simple rock crushing mill, made of easily found local materials, and was used in some of the smaller Nova Scotia mines to crush quartz ore. It could be powered by humans, but horses, mules, or oxen were more widely used. A circular pit was bottomed with flat stones. In the center of the pit, a post was attached to long horizontal wooden poles. One or two heavy flat-bottomed stones were attached to one of the poles; the other pole was pushed (by humans) or pulled (by animals) around the circular pit. As they turned, the heavy stones crushed the ore into powder.

The word arrastre comes from a Spanish word, arrastrar, that means “to drag along the ground.” The Spanish brought this technology with them to South America in the 1500s, and it was widely used by prospectors during the California gold rush of the early 1850s. Many people travelled the continent following the boom and bust of successive gold rushes, so technological ideas and advances travelled with them.
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

A Chilean mill operated on the same basic principle as the arrastra. The technology travelled to other gold fields from South America. Instead of flat stones being pulled across the ore, massive wheels or millstones were used to crush the chunks of quartz into sand or grit. The millstones were pulled around a watertight pit, usually by a horse. As the quartz was crushed and ground into sand, water was added to wash away the ore. The heavier gold sunk to the bottom of the pit. Miners added mercury – they called it “quicksilver” – to form an amalgam with the gold. They then collected the amalgam and evaporated off the mercury, leaving behind the gold.

Chilean mills required more specialized labor than the arrastra. The millstones had to be cut precisely by a stonemason, and the machine was difficult to adjust or to repair if it got broken, which meant they were quite expensive to own, transport, and operate. The arrastra became much more popular than the Chilean mill for this reason.
  
A Chilean mill operated on the same basic principle as the arrastra. The technology travelled to other gold fields from South America. Instead of flat stones being pulled across the ore, massive wheels or millstones were used to crush the chunks of quartz into sand or grit. The millstones were pulled around a watertight pit, usually by a horse. As the quartz was crushed and ground into sand, water was added to wash away the ore. The heavier gold sunk to the bottom of the pit. Miners added mercury – they called it “quicksilver” – to form an amalgam with the gold. They then collected the amalgam and evaporated off the mercury, leaving behind the gold.

Chilean mills required more specialized labor than the arrastra. The millstones had to be cut precisely by a stonemason, and the machine was difficult to adjust or to repair if it got broken, which meant they were quite expensive to own, transport, and operate. The arrastra became much more popular than the Chilean mill for this reason.
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

Black and white photograph showing a man cleaning the plate amalgamator of a stamp mill.

Cleaning up the 20 stamp mill, Salmon River (Dufferin) Gold District, 1893.

E. R. Faribault, Geological Survey of Canada
1893
Dufferin, Nova Scotia, CANADA
Salmon River, Nova Scotia, CANADA
© 2013, Geological Survey of Canada. All Rights Reserved.


The first underground gold mine opened in Nova Scotia at Mooseland in 1861 and a small arrastre was used to crush the quartz. Two years later there were over 30 stamp mills operating in Nova Scotian gold mines; the machinery was imported from Britain or the United States. Most of them were steam powered and were very expensive to run. By the end of that century many towns in Nova Scotia were manufacturing stamp mills, including Pictou, New Glasgow, Truro, Halifax, and Windsor.

The stamp mill was essentially a giant mechanized mortar and pestle – a massive pounding machine. Each stamp had a piston made out of cast iron or steel with a replaceable “shoe” at the bottom. Each stamp weighed between 225 and 400 kilograms, and stamps were usually arranged in groups of five. A steam engine rotated a camshaft that lifted each stamp twenty or twenty-five centimetres and then dropped it onto a tray of quartz. The stamps went up and down about once every second.

Stamp mills were extremely noisy and the pounding of the stamps caused massive vibrations inside the mill and in the surrounding area. For example, when Read More
The first underground gold mine opened in Nova Scotia at Mooseland in 1861 and a small arrastre was used to crush the quartz. Two years later there were over 30 stamp mills operating in Nova Scotian gold mines; the machinery was imported from Britain or the United States. Most of them were steam powered and were very expensive to run. By the end of that century many towns in Nova Scotia were manufacturing stamp mills, including Pictou, New Glasgow, Truro, Halifax, and Windsor.

The stamp mill was essentially a giant mechanized mortar and pestle – a massive pounding machine. Each stamp had a piston made out of cast iron or steel with a replaceable “shoe” at the bottom. Each stamp weighed between 225 and 400 kilograms, and stamps were usually arranged in groups of five. A steam engine rotated a camshaft that lifted each stamp twenty or twenty-five centimetres and then dropped it onto a tray of quartz. The stamps went up and down about once every second.

Stamp mills were extremely noisy and the pounding of the stamps caused massive vibrations inside the mill and in the surrounding area. For example, when the 50 stamp mills at Goldenville were operating, it could be heard at Sherbrooke some twelve kilometres away.
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

Using only water and gravity to retrieve gold from the crushed quartz ore meant that much of the gold was lost. Miners began to use mercury to get more of the gold from the crushed quartz. The mercury absorbed the very fine particles of gold until it became an amalgam, a combination of gold and mercury. The amalgam was then easier to collect, but it had to be further processed to separate the mercury from the gold. The amalgam was placed in a chamois bag and squeezed to remove as much of the mercury as possible. Afterwards the remaining amalgam was heated, evaporating off the mercury. The leftover gold was melted to bars or ingots.

Mercury amalgamation was used along with gravity methods to increase the yield of gold from quartz-bearing ore. In stamp mills mercury was added to the water that washed over the crushed quartz. The material was carried over a copper plate and through a series of sluice boxes designed to trap different sized pieces and particles of gold. When a certain amount of the amalgam had collected, the mill was shut down while the gold and mercury amalgam was scraped and washed off the copper plates and sluice boxes before it was further processed. Read More
Using only water and gravity to retrieve gold from the crushed quartz ore meant that much of the gold was lost. Miners began to use mercury to get more of the gold from the crushed quartz. The mercury absorbed the very fine particles of gold until it became an amalgam, a combination of gold and mercury. The amalgam was then easier to collect, but it had to be further processed to separate the mercury from the gold. The amalgam was placed in a chamois bag and squeezed to remove as much of the mercury as possible. Afterwards the remaining amalgam was heated, evaporating off the mercury. The leftover gold was melted to bars or ingots.

Mercury amalgamation was used along with gravity methods to increase the yield of gold from quartz-bearing ore. In stamp mills mercury was added to the water that washed over the crushed quartz. The material was carried over a copper plate and through a series of sluice boxes designed to trap different sized pieces and particles of gold. When a certain amount of the amalgam had collected, the mill was shut down while the gold and mercury amalgam was scraped and washed off the copper plates and sluice boxes before it was further processed.
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

Beginning in the late 1880s, many of the larger Nova Scotia gold mines shifted from using the mercury amalgamation process to using a cyanidization process for extracting gold from their crushed gold ore. The main reason for this was that cyanidization was more efficient and allowed for greater gold recovery. Typically, the mercury amalgamation process extracted between 70-80% of the gold from the ore while the cyanide method recoveries were generally in the low 90% range. Cyanidization was also cheaper and was able to handle a greater volume of ore.

As with the mercury amalgamation process, with cyanidization the gold ore was crushed to sand-size in the mill. Since gold is very inert chemically, only a few chemical reagents will dissolve it. One of the most efficient is cyanide mixed with an oxidant, a mixture that readily dissolves gold. Following crushing, the gold ore was passed through the cyanide reagent which dissolved the gold. This gold-rich cyanide mix was then treated chemically to precipitate the gold and the cyanide was returned to the mill for reuse. Historically, once the gold was removed from the ore, the remaining material – called tailings &ndash Read More
Beginning in the late 1880s, many of the larger Nova Scotia gold mines shifted from using the mercury amalgamation process to using a cyanidization process for extracting gold from their crushed gold ore. The main reason for this was that cyanidization was more efficient and allowed for greater gold recovery. Typically, the mercury amalgamation process extracted between 70-80% of the gold from the ore while the cyanide method recoveries were generally in the low 90% range. Cyanidization was also cheaper and was able to handle a greater volume of ore.

As with the mercury amalgamation process, with cyanidization the gold ore was crushed to sand-size in the mill. Since gold is very inert chemically, only a few chemical reagents will dissolve it. One of the most efficient is cyanide mixed with an oxidant, a mixture that readily dissolves gold. Following crushing, the gold ore was passed through the cyanide reagent which dissolved the gold. This gold-rich cyanide mix was then treated chemically to precipitate the gold and the cyanide was returned to the mill for reuse. Historically, once the gold was removed from the ore, the remaining material – called tailings – was transported to the nearby tailings pond. Unfortunately, these tailings contained a residue of the cyanide which exacted a toll on the surrounding environment, especially any aquatic wildlife. However, although cyanide is highly toxic, it readily decomposes to a non-toxic state under oxidizing conditions. Exposure to air and sunlight tended to render the cyanide residue in the tailings non-toxic as time passed.

Globally, cyanide is used in many industrial processes and most gold mines use the cyanidization extraction process. Modern gold mining operations, by law, employ methods to oxidize and decompose any cyanide residue that exists in their mill tailings prior to their discharge into the engineered tailings disposal ponds. Also by law in Canada, mining operations must reduce cyanide levels in their tailings pond water to below the allowable Canadian drinking water quality guideline level before any of the water is allowed to be discharged into the environment.
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

Photograph of a red metal can with a hunting scene motif.

Acadia Powder Company of Waverley produced gunpowder, which was used to blast apart rock, speeding up the mining process. The powder was also used for hunting, which explains the motif on this can.

Photograph by Roger Lloyd.
19th Century
Waverley, Nova Scotia, CANADA
© 2013, Nova Scotia Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Miners first used black powder or gunpowder (a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate) to speed up the process of chipping and hammering through rock to get to quartz veins. Holes were labouriously drilled into the rock using hand steels, a method of hammering steel rods by hand. When the holes were deep enough they were lined with tin or clay so that the black powder wouldn’t get damp, which would prevent it from firing. The hole was then filled with black powder, plugged with wood or more clay, and fitted with a fuse. One miner or blaster – in larger mines this was a specialized job – would light the fuses and run quickly out of harm’s way!

Once air drills were invented they made the drilling process much easier and quicker. Air drills use compressed air to power the drill bit cutting into the rock. After dynamite was invented in 1867, it began to be used more often in larger mining operations. Dynamite is made from nitroglycerin or ammonium nitrate, diatomaceous earth and sodium carbonate. This is ten times more effective than black powder. Dynamite came prepackaged in long narrow tubes. It was more dangerous to make, transport, st Read More
Miners first used black powder or gunpowder (a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate) to speed up the process of chipping and hammering through rock to get to quartz veins. Holes were labouriously drilled into the rock using hand steels, a method of hammering steel rods by hand. When the holes were deep enough they were lined with tin or clay so that the black powder wouldn’t get damp, which would prevent it from firing. The hole was then filled with black powder, plugged with wood or more clay, and fitted with a fuse. One miner or blaster – in larger mines this was a specialized job – would light the fuses and run quickly out of harm’s way!

Once air drills were invented they made the drilling process much easier and quicker. Air drills use compressed air to power the drill bit cutting into the rock. After dynamite was invented in 1867, it began to be used more often in larger mining operations. Dynamite is made from nitroglycerin or ammonium nitrate, diatomaceous earth and sodium carbonate. This is ten times more effective than black powder. Dynamite came prepackaged in long narrow tubes. It was more dangerous to make, transport, store and use than black powder, but also much more effective for blasting rock.

Explosives were manufactured in Nova Scotia at a plant in Waverly.
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

Photograph of two miners with an ore cart in the Dominion Mine.

Loading a skip at the 225 ft. level of the Dominion Mine, Waverley.

N.S. Department of Natural Resources Historical Mine Photo Collection
20th Century
Waverley, Nova Scotia, CANADA
© 2013, Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources. All Rights Reserved.


Many other kinds of machines were used in gold mining to move the gold-bearing quartz to the place where it could be processed, and to move the waste material – all the other rock – out of the way of the work.

A windlass held a bucket on a rope attached to a crankshaft, much like a bucket in a water well. In shallower shafts, the crank was turned by hand, but as mines got deeper miners would use either a whip or a whim. Both of these machines were based on much the same principle as the windless but had stronger cables and pulleys. Horses or steam engines were needed for power. All of the rock that was dug out of the mine was brought to the surface this way, but in some cases the miners themselves rode up and down the mine shaft sitting in the bucket!
  
Many other kinds of machines were used in gold mining to move the gold-bearing quartz to the place where it could be processed, and to move the waste material – all the other rock – out of the way of the work.

A windlass held a bucket on a rope attached to a crankshaft, much like a bucket in a water well. In shallower shafts, the crank was turned by hand, but as mines got deeper miners would use either a whip or a whim. Both of these machines were based on much the same principle as the windless but had stronger cables and pulleys. Horses or steam engines were needed for power. All of the rock that was dug out of the mine was brought to the surface this way, but in some cases the miners themselves rode up and down the mine shaft sitting in the bucket!
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

Workers on a drill rig collect soil and rock samples in the woods.

Drilling for samples to test for the subsurface presence of gold is an important step in the search for exploitable gold deposits.

Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources.
21st Century
Nova Scotia, CANADA
© 2013, Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources. All Rights Reserved.


None of Nova Scotia’s gold deposits are considered ‘mined out’ by mining industry standards. The province’s historic gold mining activities were limited to veins near the surface. In only a few mines, the workings went below 200 metres, a depth considered shallow in today’s mining. The deepest gold mine workings were 305 metres at Caribou, Halifax County, and Brookfield Mines, Queens County. This was mostly because the mining technologies in the heyday of Nova Scotia’s mining, the late 1800s-early 1900s, were not developed sufficiently to allow deeper mining to take place economically.

The gold-bearing quartz veins in Nova Scotian deposits extend to much greater depth than the depth to which they have been mined. As early as 1903, eminent Geological Survey of Canada geologist, E. R. Faribault, recognized the very close similarity of Nova Scotia’s lode gold deposits with those of the Ballarat-Bendigo goldfields of Australia, which have been mined to depths exceeding 1200 metres. It’s widely held that Nova Scotia’s deposits extend to similar depths and collectively hold as much gold.

Recent years have seen Read More
None of Nova Scotia’s gold deposits are considered ‘mined out’ by mining industry standards. The province’s historic gold mining activities were limited to veins near the surface. In only a few mines, the workings went below 200 metres, a depth considered shallow in today’s mining. The deepest gold mine workings were 305 metres at Caribou, Halifax County, and Brookfield Mines, Queens County. This was mostly because the mining technologies in the heyday of Nova Scotia’s mining, the late 1800s-early 1900s, were not developed sufficiently to allow deeper mining to take place economically.

The gold-bearing quartz veins in Nova Scotian deposits extend to much greater depth than the depth to which they have been mined. As early as 1903, eminent Geological Survey of Canada geologist, E. R. Faribault, recognized the very close similarity of Nova Scotia’s lode gold deposits with those of the Ballarat-Bendigo goldfields of Australia, which have been mined to depths exceeding 1200 metres. It’s widely held that Nova Scotia’s deposits extend to similar depths and collectively hold as much gold.

Recent years have seen the value of gold soar to historic highs—between $1600-$1700/troy ounce—with projections that it will remain at these levels, or continue to climb, for the foreseeable future. This has created a global rush to find more deposits and Nova Scotia is getting its share of the activity. Currently, several mining companies are actively exploring our gold deposits. Two deposits, Moose River and Dufferin Mines, have passed through the province’s environmental assessment approval process and are close to mine startup. Several other deposits are undergoing advanced exploration and some have already found mineable gold resources. As well, the province’s prospectors are very active and many have finds that they have optioned to exploration companies. Nova Scotia may well be heading into its next gold rush.
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

Because of its unique properties, gold is used in many different technological applications. It is easy to work with, resistant to corrosion, and highly conductive of electricity. It is used in catalytic convertors in cars and trucks to reduce dangerous emissions in engine exhaust; in cell phone and computer microchips and electronic circuitry connections; in airplane windshields and spaceship equipment because it reflects heat and infrared radiation; in dental fillings and crowns in teeth; in inner ear implants, to determine pregnancy, and to treat prostate cancer, arthritis, or facial paralysis, along with a host of other medical problems and diseases. Gold is at the forefront of many nanotechnology applications. Nanoparticles of gold are increasingly used as catalysts to deliver medicines to specific cells or locations in the body, or to target cancers.
  
Because of its unique properties, gold is used in many different technological applications. It is easy to work with, resistant to corrosion, and highly conductive of electricity. It is used in catalytic convertors in cars and trucks to reduce dangerous emissions in engine exhaust; in cell phone and computer microchips and electronic circuitry connections; in airplane windshields and spaceship equipment because it reflects heat and infrared radiation; in dental fillings and crowns in teeth; in inner ear implants, to determine pregnancy, and to treat prostate cancer, arthritis, or facial paralysis, along with a host of other medical problems and diseases. Gold is at the forefront of many nanotechnology applications. Nanoparticles of gold are increasingly used as catalysts to deliver medicines to specific cells or locations in the body, or to target cancers.
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

1. Imagine it is 1885 and you have just heard that new and richer gold deposits have been discovered in Nova Scotia. You decide to go and try your luck. Make a list of the tools, machinery, and supplies that you would need to pack for your expedition. Explain your choices.

2. List 10 modern-day uses of gold that you didn’t know about before. Choose one and write a short essay on how gold’s unique properties are essential for that particular purpose.

3. Research aspects of mining that make it difficult and dangerous. Imagine a new machine or technological development that would make gold mining easier and safer. How would it work?
  
1. Imagine it is 1885 and you have just heard that new and richer gold deposits have been discovered in Nova Scotia. You decide to go and try your luck. Make a list of the tools, machinery, and supplies that you would need to pack for your expedition. Explain your choices.

2. List 10 modern-day uses of gold that you didn’t know about before. Choose one and write a short essay on how gold’s unique properties are essential for that particular purpose.

3. Research aspects of mining that make it difficult and dangerous. Imagine a new machine or technological development that would make gold mining easier and safer. How would it work?
  

© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the past and how it affects the present and future.
    (Social Studies, Grades 7-12)

2. Demonstrate an understanding of interdependent relationship among individuals, society, and the environment and the implications for a sustainable future.
    (Social Studies, Grades 7-12)

3. Demonstrate an understanding of the nature of and relationships between science and technology, and of the social and environmental contexts.
    (Science, Grade 7-12)

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