[D9233AAC], Report from A Merry, May 10th, 1892


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[D9233AAC], Report from A Merry, May 10th, 1892





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Thomas A. Edison Papers, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University


REPORT ON THE NICKEL DEPOSITS IN LEVACK, near Onaping Station on Canadian Pacific Railway
New York, May 10th 1892
In accordance with request, I beg to submit the following report on your deposits as theresult of six months exploiting and investigation of the same: In the first place, the three mines or deposits owned by you are situated in the Township of Levack, the nearest of which is about 4 ¼ miles from Onaping Station on the Canadian Pacific Railroad, and about 23 miles from Sudbury, consisting of the North half of Lot 6 in the 2nd concession of Levack and the South three quarters (3/4) of Lot 7 in the 2nd concession of Levack, and lastly the North half of Lot 2 in the fourth concession of Levack, and all in the District of Algoma in the Province of Ontario Canada.
These properties were granted under the Ontario Mining act in fee simple, prior to the Royalty clauses now imposed on all recent mineral claims, so that these are therefore exempt from such penalties, which is a considerable advantage.
As to the general geology of the locality, so much has been said in the reports of the Geological Survey Department of Ottawa that any further discussion on this point is superfluous in a report of this kind. Suffice it to say that it is not yet universally accepted that it is the Laurentian or the Huronian system in which these nickel ores occur, though one or the other of these systems if must be, for both are extensively found in the district but one thing is certain and which I found held good in all the mines of this description both here and in Europe, viz; that Nickeliferous pyrrhotite and Chalcopyrite (Copper pyrites) invariably occurred close to the contact of the diabase diorite (or gabbro) with the granite of the country rock, and this is the case also with the Sudbury Mines now working and these deposits in Levack. The diabase diorite ore-bearing gangue or home of the pyrrhotite, and this particular intrusion or upheaval of diorite is about a mile wide in the middle and extending a distance of about 18 miles in a direction N.E. and S.W. The ore in question is found in this diorite belt at intervals and just were the diorite adjoins the syenitic granite .
The country around Levack consists of ranges of hills with valleys and occasional gravelly plains between, with plenty of timber suitable for mining, building and smelting purposes, in fact more thickly wooded than anywhere in the Sudbury district, where the fires have been very destructive some 20 years ago; whereas in Levack it does not appear to have been attacked, so that one important item, viz; roastwood for ore will be 1 close at hand and therefore cheap.
Another feature of considerable importance is the ample supply of water everywhere at hand and very pure in quality so that the troubles with pumps valves and boilers, etc., as at the mines in Sudbury, are not likely to occur here. It is, moreover inexhaustible, even at the driest season of the year on account of the numerous large lakes close at hand with the clear creeks from them running past the mines a couple of hundred yards away.
The water fall in the large Onaping river I have measured at a time when its water is lowest, viz; in midwinter, and found it to have a fall of 15 feet with a width of 180 feet. Such a volume of water is capable of giving at least horse power, but much less than this will be required; probably 250 H.P. will be all that is necessary to work the three mines together with the smelting works, transmission of power in mining and other operations has proved so successful and economical in many considerations, this water power working of these mines. At twoof the mines where I had the management in the North of Europe for Messrs Vivian & Co, we pit in turbine machinery. One of 3 1/3 feet diam. Gaveus all the power we wanted from a 12 foot fall and effected a considerable economy of fuel, wages, etc.
The survey made last summer shows the first two of these deposits to be about 4 ½ miles from Onaping Station on the O.P. Ry. This railway survey was made by J.L. Morris who has had several years experience in assisting in the construction of the Can. Pac. Ry and who shows by the plan and profile of his survey map that such a railroad is quite feasible and at a reasonable cost, comparatively small amount of bridging, trestlework, and very little rock cutting being necessary, and this only necessary in a few places along about the first half of the line of road the rest being almost a dead level on a gravelly bed to the mines. There is plenty of gravel ballast close at hand on the way, and the timber for ties on the spot so that there is every reason to suppose that this railroad could be laid down at a minimum cost: and it has been the practice of the Ca. Pac. Ry Co. to lay the railsto the different mines connected with track if the owners of such properties do the grading, ballasting and find the ties.
With regard to the relative positions of the three mines all three are situated in a direction N.E. and S.E. of each other: in fact this is the run of the diorite belt in which the nickel mines are found.
Lot 7 and Lot 6 in the 2nd concession of Levack have their deposits about 600 yards from each other, and are both very similar in their mode of occurrence being both situated on the slope of the hillside on the same mountain range. Between these and third deposit, Lot 2 in the 4thconcession of Levack, this range is broken and interrupted by valleys and a lake, around which by means of a little ballasting a suitable roadway is quite feasible; the rest of the way to this third deposit does not offer any important obstacle. Of the three deposits this is by far the biggest in extent although the extensive work done on the others also shows them to be quite equal in extent to any of the Ca. Copper Cos mines as they appeared on first opening up, and these are about the largest working mines in the district.
Having been actively engaged in mining and smelting operations for many years in Messrs H.H. Vivian & Co’s mines, both here and in the north of Europe, where identically the same mineral under identically the same geological conditions, I think I am in a position to say that the mines they have been working and are still working are not so extensive or massive in their ore as these which I have opened up for you in Levack, where the working and even the surface as they now stand to view show large faces of massive ore and in many places almost pure kies, viz., metallic pyrrhotite.
The first deposit one comes to on approaching these mines is the one on the north ½ of Lot 7 in the 2nd concession of Levack, consisting of 240 acres of land. This deposit is situated on the South-east side of the long mountain ridge. Running in a direction north-east back if this deposit is the red hornblendic granite of the district which here forms the contact on the north-west side of the Deorite belt, which is the condition most favorable for the heavier deposits of nickel ore wherever they have been discovered. This deposit shows in many places a heavy cap of true gossan (or hydrated oxide of iron) on the surface, showing more indications of a large deposit, and in many places the nickel ore shows up to the surface in considerable areas. Last year some twenty miners were employed to open this deposit in many different points, and in all of them they showed presence of ore, but in the greatest number of cases the workings and the face of the hill showed solid masses of pyrrhotite (nickel kies) with comparatively small quantities of copper pyrite (nickel kies) with comparatively small quantities of copper pyrite (chalcopyrite). The average of a number of assays taken and made by me shows this pyrrhotite to contain 3.74% nickel and 0.44% cooper, which compares favorably with what the Canadian Copper Cos average assays of their ores are stated to be by Dr. Bell of the Geological Survey Department of Ottawa. Considerable workings have been made on this deposit, showing them ten to fifteen feet depth below surface and many of the workings show the faces of these places as walls of solid pyrrhotite; of course in some of the places worked the ore is not so massive, but none are unpromising.
The accompanying sketch will give an idea of the appearance of the deposit along the base of the hillside. I have measured as far as I can see indications of ore horizontally 152 feet, and half way up the hillside along the face it measures 92 feet, and near the top 63 feet, and down along the face of the slope 121 feet, and by pendicular height of 48 feet. In this deposit I have calculated that there are about 15,000 tons of ore in sight above the surface of the plain land at the foot of the hill; and this ore to put a low figure would average when crushed and sorted at least 2% of nickel.
Much of the ore in sight would be richer than this, but I always prefer to make a safe estimate, and my experience of 16 years in practical mining, smelting and refining of nickel, copper, etc justifies me in stating that such an ore can give satisfactory results. As to the duration of the deposit when worked as a mining concern, it is of course difficult to give certain figures without development and testing, say, with a diamond drills in considerable depths, but judging from considerable previous experience in similar deposits and the very favorable results of the present works. I think it is not improbable that this mine would produce 42,000 tons of 2% ore (of 2,000 pounds) for every 100 feet of depth, even if the pyrrhotite does not increase in extent on getting deeper; and at the rate of an output of 100 tons (2,000 pounds) per day (which is large for the average nickel mine) the life of this mine would be, say for a depth of 600 ft 300 working days per annum, eight years. I may say that 600 ft is about present depth of Copper Cliff Mine, which has now been worked for about six years. How much further these deposits may extend in depth is impossible to say, but the Copper Cliff Mine of the Canada Copper Co which is the deepest in the district, shows no signs of depreciation but rather improvement. As before stated the back of this deposit at the top of the slope shows the contact with the country rock, viz., the red hornblende granite-syenite, as some call it, and as the dirite in which the core occurs is everywhere along the south-east side of this slope and runs parallel with this mountain ridge, the probabilities are that the mineral ore will be found to trend in a direction more to the south-east, that is, away from the main body of the hill in the depths, below the general plain of the flat land at the foot of the hillside.
On following along an almost straight line, in the same direction as the run of this mountain range, one comes to the second deposit, a matter of 8 or 10 minutes walk. This is the deposit on Lot 6 in the 2nd concession of Levack, being the north ½ of this Lot and comprises 157 ½ acres. This deposit is very similar in its mode of occurrence to the first one, being situated on the slope of the same ridge with the same backing of granite rock at the contact of the ridge with the same backing of granite rock at the contact of the diorite where the ore occurs. Towards the lower end of the slope a thick cap of gossan is visible, and higher up the slope the pyrrhotite crops out of the surface. Considerable workings have been done there last summer which show large masses of solid pyrrhotite (kies) to as 10 and 14 ft below the surface both on the floor of these workings and the walls, but in the lower workings to the foot of the hill the ore is more mixed with rock gangue, but still promising.
The accompanying sketch will give an idea of its extent as far as can at present be seen on the surface of the slope, and I have measured what I consider the zone of the ore. It appears naturally in shape, measuring horizontally along the face from 23 feet at the foot of the hillside, then soon broadening outto 60 feet halfway up the hill horizontally across the face, and at the top it broadens out to about 70 feet: down along the face from the top to the foot of the slope of the hill to be about 24 ½ degrees and the perpendicular height 64 feet. This deposit is perhaps not so broad horizontally as the first as far as its appearance on the surface shows, but on the other hand its perpendicular height is greater. I am therefore inclined to believe that there is almost as much ore in sight here extending in breadth equally favorable. One must bear in mind that all of these mines are of a volcanic origin being upheavals from below and are known to mining engineers as “Stockwerk” when occurring in this way. The average of a number of assays made by me of the pyrrhotite in this deposit gave 3.96% nickel and 0.31% cu.
In some instances, both here and in the other deposits, the pyrrhotite assayed up to 4.20% nickel. I estimate we have here a mine capable of 100 tons output of ore of 2% nickel per day for as many years as stated in the case of Lot 7, because there is no visible indication to the contrary, and it certainly looks as well as any of the Canada Copper Co’s mines when they first startedwork, and which they evidently expect to last a good many years from the large amount of capital invested and there is every prospect of there doing so.
On following a trail from this deposit for a distance of 3 miles in a north-easterly direction, we come to the largest of the whole three. This is on the North ½ of Lot 2 in the 4th con of Levack. At each of the 3 Lots good serviceable timber is at hand and especially on this Lot. Pine, spruce, tamarac, balsam, white birch etc. are to be found here, so that for building and roastwood purposes there would be no dearth of supply, as also the supply of good clear water, of which there is abundance in the large lakes and creeks near by. This half Lot comprises 148 ½ acres. The deposit here is also in the usual diorite rock and near the contact of the same red hornblendic granite, the ore body keeping well within the diorite field, and it has the appearance of a high hillabout 100ft (perpendicularly) perched on a steadily rising ground or slope on either of this hill, and having an aspect south-east as is the case of the other two deposits, the diorite being parallel the country rock, viz., on the slopes or rising ground, very considerable openings have been made in the form of long deep trenches and pits over a large area and these have exposed large deposits of solid pyrrhotite with more or less copper pyrite/(chalcopyrite) vut the chalcopyrite is not in such proportions as the average of the Canada Copper Co’s
Openings have been also made into the hill, there also it shows the presence of a promising source of ore. As far as the workings have exposed this large field of ore on the slope to the South-west side of the hill. I estimate by measurement that we have that we have a large area of ore 200ft a least by 200ft to the foot of the hill, large areas of which consist of solid pyrrhotite slightly mixed with chalcopyrite. On the slope, viz, the one on the north-west side of the hill, the openings there are not so large or extensive so it is not easy to estimate the extent on that side, but several promising exposures show promising ore, as well as the openings in the hill itself, and in lplaces high up on the hill indications of ore (gossan) are frequent where the vegetation and soil do not hide the rock. But quite sufficient work has been done to warrant one in inferring that we have here a deposit equal to if not greater than any mine ow worked by any company in Sudbury. This I feel sure will be confirmed by anyone visiting the different mines and comparing their surface workings and indications.
I estimate this one deposit is capable of an output of 2% ore at least, and of 200 tons per day for many years to come. A much smaller mine than this was worked for 20 years in the north of Europe, and consisting of identically the same kind of pyrrhotite, which ore I have both smelted and refined at Messrs Vivian & Co’s works in England, as undermanager there. Dr. R. Bell of the Geological Survey Department, Ottawa, Canada, was, I believe also most favorably impressed with these three deposits in Levack, as they appeared without any work done on them.
As regards the cost of working thee mines, if you wish to do so for yourselves, you have for the first part open slopes and quarries for a considerable time for all that lies above the general level of the low ground. These are the cheapest kind of mining, and to put safe figures for you to calculate on and based upon my previous active experience of the cost of like workings in other mines in Sudbury, I estimate that the cost of producing ore 2% in ready mined and roastwood ready for smelting as follows for open slopes and quarrying above surface level:--
Mining $1.00 per tone ore (2,000 pounds) including blasting, sorting, winding and hauling.
Roasting .50¢ per ton ore including cordwood, piling and wheeling
Total $1.50 per ton of 2% nickel ore. 1 ton of 2% nickel ore=40 pounds nickel=.03¢ per pound of nickel in roasted ore.
For average cost of sinking, driving and stoping under ground:--
Mining say average $2.25 including as above: roasting .50¢ including as above+=$2.75 per ton of 2% ore. 1 ton of 2% nickel ore+=40 pounds nickel=6.87¢ per pound of nickel in roasted ore
You may most probably be able to do it cheaper, as the deposits are on a large scale, but I prefer to be on the safe side and none of the mines now worked have done it cheaper. I have taken a number of samples from various places in the workings and found the assays to give:--
3.95% Ni average of 3 and 0.61% Ou average of 3
4.29% “ “ “ 0.17% “ “
3.77% “ “ “ 1.65% “ “
11.59-3-3.86% Ni. Total av’ge 2.43-3+0.81% Ou.total average.
Such an re previous practical experience shows me, can be smelted into say 12% nickel of 14% nickel cupola matte at a cost of say $2.3 per ton of roasted ore and if it is intended to bessemerize this ,ate to say 45 or 50 nickel contents such could be done at a total cost for mining cupola, smelting, roasting, bessemerizing, of about 21¢ per pound of nickel contents, which ought to give a very satisfactory margin of profit. The proportion of copper to nickel in the ore appears less in the average of Canada Copper Co ores; for this reason I expect it is possible to concentrate matte from these ores to a higher grade than they are able to do. This is appoint well known to metallurgists, viz., that the higher the proportion of copper the lower is the point at which the matte can be concentrated by bessemerizing or other smelting operation
Yours truly
“A. Merry”
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