Some days go better than others when prospecting for mineral deposits!

On May 7, 1956, Department of Mines engineer M. G. Goudge was investigating a mysterious material found near the community hall and baseball field in Wellington, Halifax County.

A local property owner, R. K. Steeves, believed the material was disintegrated quartz and had asked Goudge to take a look.

According to a memo Goudge wrote the next day, “Very fine beads resembling glass were noted in the topsoil to a depth of several inches, but beyond this depth in the mud I was unable to locate any further occurrence of this material. Mr. Steeves was of the opinion that this material had worked up to the surface through the ground from an underlying seam and advised me that he had encountered a 3 foot seam of the material, but had since covered it over with earth by a bulldozer.”

Goudge disagreed and believed that the “material had been placed on the ground in this vicinity at some time or other. After returning to Halifax it occurred to me that these fine pellets may be glass beads from fiber glass insulation which may have been used in the construction of the community hall. A check of this material at the Nova Scotia Technical College definitely established the pellets to be glass and not transparent quartz.”

Goudge wrote, “I shall endeavour to find out at a later date whether or not glass insulation was used in the construction of this hall.”

Mystery solved.

That was not the first time that Steeves, who designed Wellington United Church (pictured below), had asked Goudge to examine a potential mineral find that did not pan out.

On May 10, 1939, Goudge and Steeves visited a quartz outcrop that Goudge described as being about ¼ mile west of Grand Lake and ¼ mile south of Golden Lake.

Steeves had used a bulldozer to dig a trench, which uncovered 30 feet of the outcrop running east-west, and another nine feet running north-south. The quartz vein was not fully uncovered despite the substantial size of the trench.

An eight-foot hole had been blasted in the milky white quartz vein and a sample was collected. There was little visible mineralization in the quartz but Goudge sent the sample to Professor G. F. Murphy at the Nova Scotia Technical College to test it for gold.

The test showed there was no gold but that a concentration of sulphides in the sample was worth $16.50 per ton. Professor Murphy suspected the positive sulphide results were the result of contamination in the laboratory and ran the test again. The second time, he found that there was no mineralization of economic value. Goudge also concluded from his examination of the quartz vein that it had no value.

Despite the negative test results, Steeves put a road into the site in 1951 and used a bulldozer to uncover more of the quartz vein but again, no gold was found.

Department of Mines engineer E. J. Cole visited the site with Steeves and later suggested in a memo that Steeves may have misunderstood the 1939 test results as meaning the quartz was worth $16.50 per ton even though that result came from contamination in the lab. Cole agreed with Goudge’s and Murphy’s earlier assessments that the quartz vein had no economic value.

In 1998, a Department of Mines geologist sampled the quartz vein and had it tested. It again showed negligible amounts of gold but interestingly, the test revealed the sample contained six parts per million of silver, the first indication that the site contains relatively high levels of silver.

Properly assessing a site’s mineral potential takes years of exploration, not just one positive test, so it is not known whether the area contains enough silver to justify a silver mine, or whether additional exploration might reveal occurrences of other metals that, combined with the silver, could make a mine economically viable.

Maybe Steeves was onto something but just focussed on the wrong precious metal.

Only one in every 10,000 mineral exploration projects ends up being a mine. That is why it is important that we develop mineral deposits when we can, both for the materials they provide and the jobs and economic benefits they create. See how modern exploration works in the short video at https://notyourgrandfathersmining.ca/how-mining-works