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Topic – Canada’s Amazing Mines

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Canada’s Amazing Mines

Canada is rich in many metals and minerals. For hundreds of years, workers have mined, or dug, them out of the country’s rock.

Coal, Copper and More

Uranium mine site located in Northern Saskatchewan, Canada

Jericho Diamond Mine pit in Nunavut, Canada

There are more than 800 mines across Canada. They make the country one of the world’s largest producers of minerals such as coal, potash and uranium. Precious metals including gold, platinum and silver are also important mining products here. Canadians also mine metals such as copper, iron, lead, nickel and zinc. There is even a diamond mine in Canada’s north. Canada’s first mine was a coal mine on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Workers began digging out the coal here about 350 years ago. Mining was important for Canada’s settlement and development. Many communities in northern Ontario, Quebec and Alberta sprang up because of the mines there.

Tailings

Iron ore

Mining involves more than simply removing the metal or mineral from deep below the ground. The mineral has to be removed from the rock using heat or chemicals. The left-over material is a mixture of liquid and small bits of rock and is called tailings. These tailings may contain metals, such as arsenic and lead, that can be dangerous to people and wildlife. This waste has to be disposed of carefully so it can’t release poisons. The rock that has the metal or mineral in it is called ore. It is heated in huge vats known as smelters where it is processed and purified.

Mining Today

A pit pony working in a mine

In the 1800s, small horses were used in some mines to help haul the heavy carts of rock and ore. They were known as pit ponies and these little animals worked hard with the miners. The workers’ only equipment were shovels and picks to dig the metals and minerals out of the ground. Today, workers use computers and robotics to extract metals and minerals from the mines. This modern equipment makes mining more efficient and safer. The best current techniques are also used to dispose of waste from the mine as carefully as possible. Caring for the environment —the land, water and air around mines — is now an important part of the mining process.


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