Harrigan Cove

Gold was discovered in Harrigan Cove, in Halifax County on the Eastern Shore, in 1868.

A small stamp mill was built in 1872 to process ore but operations ceased the following year.

Some intermittent exploration took place, mainly in the late 1880s, but it was not until the turn of the century that activity really picked up.

The most productive period was from 1900-04 when the St. Anthony Gold Mining Company worked the St. Anthony lead. In 1900 the company produced 200-260 tons of ore per month and processed it at a nearby mill until the company built its own 10-stamp mill.

From March to August 1901, St. Anthony crushed 1,281 tons of ore, producing 1,289 ounces of gold.

In 1915-16, St. Anthony produced a few ounces, the last of the mining that took place in the area. WWI was likely a factor in mining coming to an end since it created labour and supply shortages for many Nova Scotia mines.

In total, the reported historical production from the district totalled 7,943 ounces of gold. This production is from relatively shallow workings that did not go below 60 metres depth.

Exploration in Harrigan Cove has taken place in almost every decade since the 1930s.

In the mining industry, we often say that new mines are often found next to old mines because historical sites worked with basic tools and little science can today be mined profitably and environmentally-responsibly with heavy equipment and sophisticated science and engineering.

Harrigan Cove potentially offers an illustration of this. There is a 60-metre high drumlin – a hill formed by glaciers during the last ice age - among the historical mines. Gold-bearing quartz veins likely extend under the drumlin but historical miners ignored that potential because the technology of the day made mining under that much overburden very difficult (overburden is the soil and rock that sits on top of a mineral deposit: in this case, the hill). In other words, any veins under the drumlin were buried too deep for historical miners to pursue.

In the 1800s and early 1900s, overburden was usually removed by hand, which made large amounts of it a significant obstacle – it cost a lot of time and money to pay men to remove overburden one shovel-full at a time.

Today, we use heavy equipment to remove large quantities of overburden. There is still a cost (i.e. wages, fuel, equipment) and we still prefer deposits that are closer to surface, but overburden is not an obstacle today like it was historically. Hopefully exploration at Harrigan Cove will explore under the drumline so we can fully understand the area’s potential for a modern gold mine.

New mines are often found next to old mines. That is why almost all the activity in Nova Scotia’s gold sector is at historical gold mines that still have the potential to be returned to production and to create jobs for Nova Scotians.