Gold was discovered in Lochaber, Halifax County, in the early 1880s but things did not go as hoped.

In 1887, John H. Anderson opened several leads on the property of the Lochaber Gold Mining Company. Anderson was already a known figure in Nova Scotia gold mining – he had made the discovery that kick started mining in Lake Catcha, which became one of the most productive gold districts in the province.

In 1888, an English syndicate led by James C. Ashton bought the mine from Anderson and made preparations for opening the main lead. A road to the mine was also built that year and the area seemed to have significant potential. An 1888 article in the Canadian Mining Review suggested the site had “a good body of ore which should yield at least one ounce of gold to the ton." One ounce of gold per ton of ore, the host rock in which minerals are found, would have been a very good return. Many successful Nova Scotia gold mines in that era produced at about that rate.

In fact, after an ore sample was sent to England for analysis, extraordinary results came back: 28 ounces of gold per ton of ore. This was almost certainly the result of sending only the best ore for testing – stacking the deck, in other words.

If the site truly had a deposit that rich, mining would have continued and huge investment would have poured into the area. Instead, a stamp mill was built to process ore in 1889 but it mainly sat idle. No further activity took place after 1889.

While fraud can occur in any industry, and the historical mining industry certainly had its share, modern regulation makes fraud in the mineral sector very rare. For example, regulators require that companies adhere to “National Instrument 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects” rules that govern disclosure of scientific and technical information. The intended audience of NI 43-101 reports is the investing public and their advisors who, in most cases, are not mining experts. The NI 43-101 system was adopted in 2001 and it protects investors from things like dishonest claims about mineral projects.

While we call it a mine, the Lochaber workings, like many other historical operations, were not a mine in the sense that we use the word now. Historical mines were often pits just a couple feet deep, or a small shaft or two, often even without a mill for processing. There was often very little actual mining or production at such sites.

In total, Lochaber produced just two ounces of gold from five tons of processed ore.