Gays River

Nova Scotia has a zinc mine in Gays River, Halifax County. The zinc-lead deposit was discovered in 1973. It had been known since the 1800s as a small lead occurrence, but it was discovered in 1973 that it’s actually a large underground deposit. There are many mines around the world that start this way – they are known for many years as only small occurrences until further exploration work reveals the extent of the resource.

The additional exploration also revealed that the deposit is more zinc than lead. The zinc in the rock wasn't previously recognized as it occurs as a mineral called honey sphalerite which has a light creamy colour that looks like limestone. Sphalerite contains zinc and iron and has a reddish-brown colour due to the iron. Honey sphalerite has much more zinc and therefore a lighter colour. Honey sphalerite is more valuable than normal sphalerite because it is easier to smelt and produces more zinc.

Esso built the Scotia Mine in 1978-9 and Seabright Resources bought it in 1984. Seabright converted the mill for gold processing and processed bulk samples trucked from the Beaver Dam and Forest Hill gold deposits. Seabright didn’t actually mine the zinc-lead deposit – it just took advantage of the mill.

The Scotia Mine was acquired in 1988 by Westminer Canada, which dewatered it and continued mining and milling until 1991. The mine then changed hands several times.

Mining again took place in 2007-8 but depressed metal prices put the mine on hold.

In May 2011, Selwyn Resources (later renamed ScoZinc) purchased the mine and worked to return it to production.

EDM Resources later took the site over.

Zinc’s main use is in alloys to galvanize (protect) steel. Zinc oxidizes/rusts more quickly than the metal it is protecting, and the underlying metal will not corrode until all the zinc has been sacrificed. This extends the life of a wide range of products and infrastructure and makes galvanized steel one of the strongest construction materials. About 60% of global zinc supply is used for galvanizing.

Zinc is important in green technologies. Wind turbines require about six tons of zinc per megawatt of capacity because they are mostly made of steel that needs to withstand the elements. Galvanized steel is also used in electric vehicle bodies and in various parts of EVs and solar panels.

Gays River also had historical gold mining at a gold deposit that formed in an unusual way for Nova Scotia. See the story at