Environmental Science Ore Chimney Mine Field Trip

Monday, October 5, 2015

By Professor Richard Amos

ENSC Students Clark Bolliger, Bethel Tsegai, and Shahd Abualsaud measure water levels at the base of the Ore Chimney waste rock pileMining is an important component of Canada’s economic engine, but always comes with some environmental impact. Recently, the ENSC 2000 Environmental Science Field Camp class was able to see first-hand what the potential impacts could be at the historic Ore Chimney Mine. The students spent the weekend studying the ore chimney mine site, including mapping the geology of the site and assessing water quality impacts of the waste rock pile.

Gold was discovered at the Ore Chimney Mine, located near Kaladar, ON, in 1902 and mining operations were carried out until the 1930’s. Although the mine never produced a significant amount of ore, mining exploration has been carried out on the site until recent years. During mining operation a large waste rock pile was created from the uneconomical rock that is removed from the mine to access the economical ore. Waste rock piles have the potential to leach acid mine drainage to the surrounding surface water and groundwater when sulfide minerals within the rock are oxidized.

The ENSC 2000 class installed groundwater samplers, measured the water quality of the surface and groundwater, determined the groundwater flow direction and assessed the sulfide mineral content of the waste rock pile. This information will be used to determine the impact of the 100 year old waste-rock pile on the surroundings and also the mitigating effects of the organic-rich wetland at the base of the pile. Students also undertook a geological mapping exercise on the mine site to gain some mapping experience and appreciate the metamorphic events that shaped the landscape and produced the mineralization at the site. 



Professor Richard Amos is cross-appointed between the Institute of Environmental Science and the Department of Earth Sciences. TA Dale Sprague (below) is a graduate student in the Department of Earth Sciences. 

TA Dale Sprague instructs students on mapping technique at the Ore Chimney mine site

TA Dale Sprague instructs students on mapping technique at the Ore Chimney mine site