Christmas Island

The post office at Christmas Island, Cape Breton, processes thousands of pieces of mail each year, from all over the world, because of its special postmark! People put cards or other items with the correct postage on them in larger envelopes, mail them to the two-person post office and ask that they stamp the items before sending them on to the final recipient.

Graphite was mined in Rear Christmas Island at the turn of the last century.

According to a 1950 report, residents said the deposit was worked around 1900 by an American who shipped about three or four vessels of “plumbago” from Christmas Island. (Plumbago is an old term for graphite.) The mine shaft was about 75 feet deep on a 70° angle. There was a modest amount of horizontal tunneling at the bottom of the shaft.

Christmas Island graphite was awarded diplomas at the Paris and Glasgow exhibitions in 1901.

According to a 1920 study of graphite deposits across Canada for the federal Department of Mines, "An analysis of the shale at Christmas Island...showed as high as 50% of graphite."

Some exploration of the site took place in 1986 when another adit (tunnel) was discovered approximately 50 metres southwest of the first shaft.

Exploration took place and again from 2006-08 and tests on the graphite suggested it had potential for use in the manufacture of silicon carbide. (Silicon carbide is an extremely hard, synthetically-produced compound of silicon and carbon. It was discovered accidentally by American inventor Edward G. Acheson in 1891 while attempting to produce artificial diamonds. Since then it has been an used in sandpapers, grinding wheels and cutting tools. More recently, it has been used in linings and heating elements for industrial furnaces, in wear-resistant parts for pumps and rocket engines, and in semiconducting substrates for light-emitting diodes.)

Today, graphite is a critical mineral in rechargeable batteries, including those used in electric vehicles and cell phones.