On August 7th, 1903, Ernest Darragh and James Mckinley, made a discovery that would forever change the history of Ontario. The two lumbermen seeking timbers for railroad ties stumbled upon a silver vein that ultimately kick started the rush of 1905-06. The Klondike rush was over and people were hungry for the next great discovery and Cobalt quickly became a hotbed of mining in northern Ontario. Today, Cobalt is known as The Silver Capital of Canada and the most historic town in Ontario and for good reason; it produced 460 million ounces from over 100 mines since the initial discovery and prompted extensive mineral exploration that ultimately led to discoveries in Kirkland Lake and Porcupine.

Despite a fire that ripped through the town in 1909, destroying 150 homes and leaving 3000 people homeless, the mining community of Cobalt refused to quit, they rebuilt the town and carried on with mining operations up until the 1930’s when the ore became less accessible from surface and the price of silver declined. Gold rushes in Kirkland Lake and Timmins became more appealing and more profitable than the Silver mines of Cobalt. A few mines outside of town remained open through World War 2 but nowhere near what it once was. After the war, Silver began to climb and cobalt had roughly a dozen mines again but this only lasted until the town of Cobalt was ripped apart for a second time in its history.

In 1977, another fire wiped through town destroying 140 buildings and ultimately crushed the mining town of Cobalt for good. This time there was no coming back from the devastation and Cobalt was lost into the history books. Some mining operations stayed open, but most had closed by the late 80’s. Silver had bottomed out and almost every mine in the area shut down leaving gouges in the earth as a reminder of the rich history of Cobalt.

Today, the town is a mere 1500 people and the landscape is barren. Chain-link fences sanction off large open pits, abandoned head frames and foundations of buildings that were left behind as a reminder of what once was. Whispers of Cobalt’s prosperity can still be found in local museums and in the murals painted on buildings that litter the town. You can travel the historic Silver trail which brings you through the back country of Cobalt and can get a closer look at how they mined the silver veins that littered the landscape. Most of the mining in the early 1900’s was done by pick and shovel, while they transported the ore by wheel barrel, horse and buggy and trains. Timbers still lodged between the crevices to keep it from caving in are left as a reminder of the lengths they would go to chase the veins. Most of the cuts and pits are filled with water now but still offers an incredible glimpse into the past.

In the last 7 or 8 years there has been a renewed interest in Cobalt and the surrounding area for not only silver but for the Cobalt that was left behind. Gold can be found not far to the North where the geology changes from the much younger Temiskaming assemblage of volcanic rock to the southern part of the Abitbi Green Belt near Kirkland lake Ontario. In this region, Silver, Gold and Cobalt can be found amongst other minerals and two companies in close proximity to one another are actively exploring the Gowganda area. Both companies are coming up with decent grades and one is focusing on solutions to extract minerals left behind from previous mining operations.

 iMetals Resources is currently planning an aggressive exploration drilling campaign this summer after last year’s preliminary 5 hole, 1,258 meters.  Helicopter-borne Versatile Time Domain Electromagnetic (VTEM) and Horizontal Magnetic Gradiometer geophysical surveys have been completed and will assist this year’s campaign. The surveys covered the northern 50% of their Gowganda West Project and has identified 7 targets of interest. Assay results for the 5 diamond drill hole program indicated that the gold mineralization appears to be part of and within an extensive near surface hydrothermal alteration and gold mineralizing system. iMetal’s CEO Johan Grandin commented, “We are now rapidly advancing the ground work to define new drilling targets along the trend from Zone 1S and other high priority target areas” With the recent closure of a private placement, IMR is fully funded and ready to roll into the 2019 drilling campaign. Read more…

Canada Cobalt works has property right next to iMetals Resources and has not only taken an interest in underground exploration but has also turned their attention to these massive piles of waste rock which have yielded some very interesting numbers of late. They have a system called the Re-20x which removes the arsenic and converts it into a client-specific technical grade cobalt sulfate. Giving them the ability to reprocess the muck piles of waste left behind from previous operations. This allows them to maximize profits at very low production costs and have a positive impact on the environment. Swastika laboratories just completed testing on 250 kg of samples and subsequently returned yields of Cobalt concentrate at 8.25% and a head grade of .39 % cobalt and 1,905 g/t of silver. Castle mine looks poised to go back into production in the coming years. Combined with some amazing assays from last year’s drilling campaign, Castle mine is not directly in cobalt however the proximity to cobalt is close enough to have a positive economic impact on the area. Read more…

First Cobalt Canada owns the only permitted cobalt refinery in North America capable of producing battery grade cobalt sulfate. The company is in the process of doing a scoping-level capacity study to estimate the capital required to get their Refinery back into production. Most of the worlds cobalt supply comes from the Congo but FCC would like to restore the long forgotten town that was named after the first mineral that was ever discovered on its hills. They have been drilling in the Cobalt area for a number of years now and have shown that there is most definitely a resource to be had but the question remains… Is there enough to justify a full scale mining operation?  They could turn to the various muck piles in the area left behind from previous mining operations who discarded cobalt at the time in order to feed the mill, and with recent success of producing battery grade cobalt sulfate it might just be their best option until they find the source they are looking for. With Cobalt demand on the rise it’s only a matter of time before the once disregarded mineral becomes a very sought after commodity and perhaps, breathe new life into my little old town of Cobalt. Read more…

De Beers Group is an international corporation that specializes in diamond exploration and has recently taken an interest in the Cobalt and surrounding area. They have been in business since 1988 and produce roughly 35 percent of the worlds diamonds. For a company of this magnitude to be exploring the area, it offers locals some hope for better days ahead. While we were in the area Helicopter-borne Versatile Time Domain Electromagnetic (VTEM) geophysical testing was ongoing and were fortunate enough to have them fly over us while we were exploring and filming behind Cobalt. Read more…

RJK Exploration Ltd. Has a property option agreement with “Tony” Bishop for the Nipissing Diamond Properties located 10 km south of Cobalt, on 2090 hectares of land that has several kimbelite pipes. A very famous diamond was found called the Nipissing Yellow Diamond near Cobalt during the early 1900’s, around the same time Cobalt discovered it was sitting on a significant silver deposit. For years Tony Bishop has been searching the area for the source of of this historical diamond. Over the last few years Tony has compiled a NI-43-101 technical report and identified at least 18 kimberlite pipes. This prompted RJK to option the property and begin drilling the most interesting targets. Given the proximity to Cobalt and the local infrastructure, this could provide a massive economic boost. Read more…

It’s no wonder this forgotten ghost town in Northern Ontario is quickly becoming a hotbed of mining activity, especially with it’s rich history of mining. The geological nature of the area is clearly highly mineralized and my little town of Cobalt could sure use an economic boost, maybe a chance to be recognized yet again as a prosperous mining community. If you’re ever passing through Cobalt, I encourage you take the time to learn a bit about this historic town and walk the Silver Trail and you may be surprised with what you might find in the back country of Cobalt Ontario.

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