Canfield Creek

It sometimes happens that exploration for one mineral ends up leading to the discovery of another. This happened in Cumberland County when exploration for potash led to the discovery of a copper deposit.

Scurry Rainbow Exploration did exploration drilling at Canfield Creek in 1966, hoping to find a deposit of potash, a mineral that is mostly used in fertilizer. Without potash and other minerals used in fertilizers, we could not grow enough food to feed Earth’s population.

No potash was found but in 1980, Esso Minerals analysed chip samples from the 1966 drill cores and found copper. Esso drilled 25 additional drillholes in the area and found a significant copper deposit (300,000 tons of ore at 1.2% copper). Portions of the deposit remain open along strike – meaning they are not yet explored – so the deposit may be larger than is currently known. There were also traces of silver in Esso’s drill cores.

Other copper occurrences have also been found in the area and Cumberland had a number of historical copper mines. These are positive indicators that the area may have significant potential for copper mining in the modern era.

Copper is in high demand these days because it is essential in green technologies like electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels. For example, an electric vehicle contains about 183 pounds of copper, four times as much as in a regular car. That’s about 6 kilometres of copper wiring per electric car!

Many experts predict the world could face a shortfall in copper supply because of the growth in its usage, and because there are not enough mines to supply it.

Copper also has important health applications because it kills bacteria and viruses, sometimes within minutes. It has been shown to kill a long list of microbes, including norovirus, E. Coli and coronaviruses—including the novel strain currently causing the COVID-19 pandemic.