GOLD MINING IN CORDOVA MINES (Belmont Mines)
THE TIME line: Article by Branko Balaz
March 15, 1917 - Another chapter in the checkered history of Cordova Mines was brought to a close when the big mills, No. 1 shaft house and the black- smith shop was totally destroyed by fire last Monday night.
The origin of the fire was a mystery but it started in the' shaft house. The buildings were all of wood and burned with surprising rapidity.
During the past year the old compressed air system had been done away with and a modern electric power system installed. The mine had been in operation only a few weeks and a number of men were at work below ground where the fire started. All but three escaped through another shaft but the three who were cut off were not rescued until noon on Tuesday. The trapped men succeeded in reaching the third level where there was a storehouse for powder and other supplies and were little worse for their experience when rescued.
In 1890, H.T.Strickland discovered gold in Belmont (Lots 20 & 21) and Marmora Township. A syndicate, composed of Messrs. Carscallen, O'Neil, Strickland and Burnhas acquired the property and in September 1891 began sinking the first three of several shafts through which the early development of the mine was carried out. From October 1892 to late in 1893 when it became idle, the property was under lease to the Moira Gold Mining Company of New York.
In 1897 an English firm, the Cordova Exploration Company, was granted a working option by A.W. Carscallen, who had by then acquired sole ownership of the property. A mining plant was erected and a 10-stamp mill put into operation. During the next 2 years considerable underground exploration was carried out, after which the company purchased the property. At that time development was being carried out in six shafts numbered as 1,2,3,6,7, and 10, but by 1901 all mining operations were being confined to shafts 1,2 and 3, and an additional 10-stamp mill had been added. (Charlie Barrons recorded that buildings included shaft houses, mill building and miners' residences including Manager's house, adding "Before the English firm took over, the power was supplied by a large team plant that burned about 10 cords of wood a year. Most of it was brought in by rail. The rail was very welcomed as a lot of lumber and pulp wood was shipped out by it. There was also a wye to turn engines on." )
In January 1903, The Belmont Gold Mining Company, a subsidiary of the Cordova Exploration Company took over the mine but operated for only a few months when the mine was closed. At that time the main mine workings consisted of No.1 shaft sunk to a depth of 125 m, with 4 levels; No.2 shaft, 310.9 m and east of No.1, to a depth of 56.4 m, and No.3 shaft, 392.3 m southeast of No.1, to a depth of 99.1 m with a connection to the bottom level of No.2 shaft. Shafts Nos.1,2, and 3 were inclined at 67 degrees. Several additional shafts had been sunk: No.4 shaft, little more than a deep prospect pit; No.5 to a depth of 31.4 m; No.6, 228.6 m northeast of No.1, to a depth of 25.9m; No.7 (vertical), 129.5 m north of No.1, to a depth of 24.4 m, and No.10, 170.7 m east of No.1 to a depth of 14.0 m.
Photos from the George Barrons collection
In 1911 Cordova Gold Mines Limited purchased the mine and produced gold intermittently from 1912 until 1917, when fire destroyed the surface plant . Cordova Mines were situated in Belmont and Marmora Township, Peterborough and Hastings County in Province of Ontario, Canada. Cordova Gold Mines Limited owned 246.6 acres in Belmont Township, where their principal mine workings and mining plants were located, and 130.5 acres in Marmora Township, adjoining both in mineral rights, making 377.1 acres in one block. The company also owned 300 acres at Deer Lake, now Cordova Lake, upon which their power plant was situated. Accessory minerals found on this property: Pyrite, Arsenopyrite, Chlorite, Serpentine, Sericite, Quartz, Apatite and Silver.
Marmora Herald Dec. 8, 1910 After lying idle for six or seven years, Cordova Mines has been sold. The purchases being local men - Dr. William Graeme MacKechnie, (Marmora) Peter Kirkegaard of Deloro and William Hughes. The price paid, we are informed, was $30,000.00. It is stated miining operations will resume in the spring.
Marmora Herald May 25, 1911 Mr. Phillip Martin, who has been with the Deloro Mining & Reduction Co. for some years, went to Cordova this week where he will act as manager of the mine which was recently purchased by Messrs. Hughes, Kirkgaard and Dr. MacKechnie.
Aug. 2, 1917 Operations have been suspended for the present at the Cordova Gold Mine owing to the difficulty of securing labor and the extremely high scale of wages.
In 1933 Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada Limited pumped out flooded mine, supplied the mine and in 1935 bought the property. Development included the deepening of No.3 shaft to 305 m (inclined depth), with the establishment of several new levels; the sinking of a 2-compartment winze (No.912) from the 9th or 304 m level, 50 m on the incline, to the 10th level; and several hundred meters of drifting, cross-cutting and underground diamond drilling. As a result of this work, a small body of ore was blocked out in 1938 which justified the construction of a 110 tonne/day cyanide mill which was completed in 1939. Work on the property continued until July 1940. At this time all operations ceased. The company treated 30,000 tonnes of ore for a recovery of 0.1117 oz. of gold per ton ($4.50/ton at $38.50 per oz. of gold).
In November 1963, Orvana Mines Limited acquired an option on the property diamond drilling and sampling of the dumped ore was undertaken in 1965.
In 1979 a small group of businessmen, members of the Cordova Gold Syndicate purchased these claims from Cameron S. Belmont and subsequently assigned the property to Lasir Gold Inc.
During the years 1917 to 1930, two other operators treated an additional 41,722 tonnes and recovered 13,700 ounces of gold. During peak production in early 1900's, the town of Cordova Mines grew to a population of 500 people. During this period the English Company made a number of improvements including the construction of a hydroelectric power plant at the outlet of Deer Lake. The use of this valuable water resource improved the economics of the mine by eliminating the need for 10,000 cords of wood per year previously used for producing steam power and heating. The original plant (the foundations of which are still evident today) produced compressed air for the mine using 800 H.P. compressor and generated approximately 250 kilowatts of electric power. The compressed air and electricity was transported to the mine located approximately 4 km away.
In 1983 the company entered a joint venture with Minetech Limited building a plant to recover gold from the old ore dumps using cyanidation. Minetech expended about $250,000 before it went bankrupt. The whole mining area was cleaned.
In 1984 Silver Princess Resources Inc. optioned the property but did not pursue the option and the property was sold to the private ownership.