New Ross

Nova Scotia had many historical mines that extracted what are now called “critical minerals” – minerals needed for things like electric vehicles, wind turbines, solar panels and electronics.

Those early mines proved that we have the geology for minerals like copper, manganese, tungsten and others, and that Nova Scotia can contribute to global supply of these essential materials today.

While historical miners proved the existence of these valuable deposits, they did not have the sophisticated science and technology we have now to find and fully extract them. They also often faced a variety of other obstacles, including lack of labour, affordable energy, infrastructure and capital that frequently brought mining to a halt.

As a result, they often left much of their deposits in the ground where they can potentially be extracted today and used to meet climate goals.

Mines in New Ross that produced manganese, a key battery metal today, are an example.


Manganese was discovered in New Ross, Lunenburg County, about 1891 by W. Rafuse who developed the site until 1893 when he sold it to M. T. Foster of Halifax. Foster operated the mine for some years and made a number of shipments of ore. (Records are incomplete so specifics of his work are not known.)

Foster sold the mine to the New Ross Manganese Company, which mined until about 1903 when litigation over ownership of the land caused mining to cease.

In 1916-17, the New Ross Manganese Company shipped 22 tons of ore sorted from the mine’s dumps. A dump at a mine is just extracted rock, usually set aside because it is seen as containing none, or relatively little, of the target mineral. In this case, the dump contained good quality ore but had been left unprocessed because of the litigation.

In 1919, the mine was taken over by the Consolidated Manganese Company, which moved a plant from an adjoining property, where manganese had been found in 1916, to the Cain and Riddle mine and restarted operations. The company mined until 1921 when it shut down.

In 1930, the Dominion Mining and Power Company began dewatering one of the shafts and built a small concentrating mill in which part of the old dump was treated.


Another manganese discovery was made in 1907 by Ernest Turner two miles northeast of the original discovery. It was often called the "New" mine since it opened after the Cain and Riddle mine. However, it became known as the Dean and Chapter mine because it was part of an 1813 grant of 5,500 acres – called the Dean and Chapter Grant - to the Bishop of Nova Scotia. The term “dean and chapter” means the governing body of an area (the dean is the head of body and the chapter are the priests).

In 1910 the Nova Scotia Manganese Company, managed by Dr. H. W. Cain of Bridgewater, was organized to build and operate the mine.

In 1912, the company was in the process of building a road to Benjamin’s Mills, about 10 miles away and en route to the Avon River. The New Ross mines were about 29 miles by road from both Windsor and Chester Basin, but the last seven miles from either direction were only passable for vehicles in winter when the ground was frozen. For years, machinery and supplies could only be hauled in, and ore shipments could only be hauled out, during winter months by teams of oxen. The new road was intended to make shipments possible year-round.

The company was selling its output to the Humphrey Glass Company at Trenton, New Jersey, and Brandram-Henderson, a Nova Scotian paint company, at $50-$80 per ton.

However, operations ceased in 1912 due to lack of capital. The mill was also destroyed by fire that year.

In 1915, the property was leased to the Metals Development Company which dewatered the mine and produced 544 long tons of high-grade manganese ore in 1916.

The Metals Development Company then subleased the property to the Rossville Manganese Company, which shipped 179 long tons of high-grade ore in 1917. No shipments were made in 1918, and fire destroyed part of the surface plant that year.

In 1919, the Consolidated Manganese Company, which was then running the Cain and Riddle mine, also took an option on the Dean and Chapter mine. However, the company shut down both mines in 1921.

The Dean and Chapter mine was operated again from 1929-1936 but has not been worked since.

Combined, the New Ross mines produced a reported 3,000 tons of manganese ore but this is considered a minimum because it was not until 1918 that manganese was formally declared a mineral under the Mines Act so reporting prior to then was not required. The two mines, the Cain and Riddle mine in particular, are likely Nova Scotia’s biggest-producing manganese mines. They are still the deepest and most extensive underground manganese mines in Canada.

The New Ross deposit is one of only two known manganese deposits in the world that are hosted in granite and large enough to be mined. (The other is in France.) Most manganese deposits around the world are in sediments.

Exploration has continued in New Ross in the decades since the area was last mined. For example, in 1942, the Inspiration Mining and Development Company drilled 23 holes, successfully extending the known ore zone, indicating the possible existence of 36,000 tons of ore. In 1958 Marpic Explorations sank a shaft east of the Cain and Riddle mine but did no actual mining.

The New Ross area also has occurrences of other critical minerals that are considered important in green technologies, such as tin and molybdenum.

New Ross is just one of many places in Nova Scotia that have potential to provide critical minerals.