Hon. George Prudham (Minister of Mines and Technical Surveys):
Before we deal with the items of the estimates I should like to put on record a few statistics and a general review of the mineral industry in Canada. I shall do this rather fully because our "summary of activities", the report distributed by the department to members of parliament each year, is not yet available from the printers.
This house has listened for many days this session to the disciples of blue ruin, predicting a depressing future for this country, growing unemployment and general decline. Mr. Chairman, we in Canada need never look back if we rise to the challenge of applying the great sources of energy we possess to the development of our national industrial structure. Nowhere else in the world today do 15 million people in one nation possess the heritage that is the lot of the Canadian people.
Not only does this nation have a remarkable heritage of mineral wealth but it also has proven sources of energy supply required to develop our natural resources. Our oil, natural gas, coal and electricity and in coming years perhaps atomic energy, are the keys to the unlocking of our great storehouse of minerals and our natural resources generally. One task facing us today is to develop these sources of energy and their distribution to areas of Canada where the energy can be most effectively used.
Mining in Canada in 1953 gave every evidence of a flourishing industry. Despite lower base metal prices, and labour disputes in two of the country's biggest camps, a new
Supply-Mines and Technical Surveys high of $1,331 million was recorded in the value of mineral output, an increase of $46 million over 1952 and almost three times that of a decade ago. Over 128,500 men were employed in mines and quarries in 1953 at wages and salaries totalling $435 million.
Crude petroleum with an output valued at $198 million became Canada's No. 1 mineral, replacing gold which, after 25 years as the leading mineral, dropped to fourth place with a production valued at $139 million. Nickel at $161 million was second and copper at $151 million was third.
The sharp decline in lead and zinc prices brought about the closing down of several marginal producers particularly in British Columbia, and a substantial cutback in the production of zinc by Canada's largest producer.
As Canada is the leading exporter of the principal non-ferrous base metals much depends upon the export market particularly in United States. During the past year the question of tariffs on imports of base metals into United States has been widely discussed in that country. Canada has participated in some of these discussions, and it is hoped that a decision favourable to our base metal industry will be arrived at soon.
The outstanding feature of the year in the Canadian mineral industry, however, was the intensive and widespread exploratory and development activity that was carried out in the territories and in every province except Prince Edward Island. This activity resulted in, among other things, the bringing in of such new mines as the Eldorado Mining and Refining ace-fay uranium property in the Beaverlodge area of northern Saskatchewan, the Lynn Lake nickel-copper property in northern Manitoba, the Cassiar asbestos property in northern British Columbia and a copper-gold property in the Chibougamau area of Quebec, the first producer in that area. Much progress was made in the several large-scale projects under way such as that of Quebec-Labrador iron ore field into which the 360-mile railway has been virtually completed and from which ore is expected to be shipped by late summer, and at the Gaspe copper deposits which are to be brought in late this year.
An idea of the intensity of exploration, which proved greater in 1953 than in any other year in the history of Canadian mining, may be had from the preliminary estimate of over 130,000 claims staked during the year. This is a 216 per cent increase over 1952. The outstanding example was in New Brunswick, the scene of the Bathurst find, where some 41,000 claims were staked in 1953 compared with only 1,600 in 1952.
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Oil, natural gas, iron ore and uranium proved to be the major newsmakers in 1953. Oil production rose to 81 million barrels, compared with 61 million barrels in 1952. The industry spent some $365 million in the search for oil and discovered light crude oil in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and new major fields in Alberta.
The development of the petroleum and natural gas resources in western Canada in the last seven years has been so spectacular that they could not have been foreseen by even the most optimistic enthusiast. The initial stages caught the attention of the public and made headlines in the press, so that it seemed to many that suddenly, without preparation, great resources had been uncovered. This is not so. Back of these discoveries are years of patient toil on the part of many scientists and engineers. Through the years they have provided the fundamental knowledge on which the recent development is based.
The land subdivision of the early settlement years, done by the dominion land surveyors, together with the precise level and triangulation surveys of the geodetic survey, were the foundation in western Canada for the base maps formerly prepared under the department of the interior of the federal government, then under the geological survey, and now under the surveys and mapping branch of mines and technical surveys. Without adequate maps no resource development is possible in a systematic manner because each base map becomes the working tool of the geologists and geophysicists, under whose direction and guidance most exploratory programs are planned and carried out.
The foundations in the preparatory work for the successful development of petroleum and natural gas were laid by geologists of the geological survey of Canada. The names of Dawson, McConnell, Dowling and many others are famous in the interpretation of the geological features of western Canada. The reports of these men-the great geological pioneers of the plains, foothills and mountains-are still in great demand because of their clear exposition of the regional geological features based on their accurate observations.
Since about the beginning of this century the geological survey of Canada has each year had several parties in western Canada mapping geological features. The younger men of today on our staff are performing work just as important as the pioneers of yesterday, even though it is mostly of a more detailed nature. There now is an exceedingly
large amount of new information made available daily from the drilling of wells. The collection of this is a tremendous task for which we have a small staff in our Calgary office who, even though they cannot hope to keep pace in the complete correlation of all the data, are assisting in the development by making it available for the use of other geologists in the employ of the various oil companies.
It would be difficult to assess the value of this work. But certainly the combined efforts, not only of those in private enterprise, but also those in the employ of the various provincial governments of western Canada, as well as the federal government, are such that in relation to oil and gas discoveries the major problems have now suddenly become those of marketing, because of the great volume of riches that has been so rapidly revealed.
To summarize briefly the more recent developments is almost impossible because of the magnitude and significance of the results. For a time in the early part of 1953, it appeared that there would be a slackening in the discovery rate, but by the end of the year some really remarkable discoveries had been made. Among these may be cited the Roselea field in Manitoba, the Smiley field in Saskatchewan, and the Pembina and Sturgeon Lake fields in Alberta. New gas developments in northeast British Columbia assure more than adequate reserves for the West-coast Transmission line now planned to Vancouver and the Pacific northwest united states.
Of all the fields, Pembina is beyond doubt the largest, and recent estimates have placed the reserves at 800 million to 950 million barrels in this one field alone, with a possibility that the number of wells that ultimately will be drilled on 80 acre spacing will be equal in number to the 4,600 presently producing oil wells in the whole of Alberta. Recently in one week alone there were seven new discoveries of oil and gas in western Canada of which two were in Manitoba, one in Saskatchewan, three in Alberta, and one in British Columbia.
Although it is too early to assess the complete value of these, the one in Saskatchewan in the Estevan area is of very great importance in that the well yielded not only large volumes of gas but, in addition, a high volume of light crude oil. One of the Alberta discoveries in the area west and north of Didsbury also seems to be highly important, showing a thick porous section in the Missis-sippian from which the oil and gas in Turner valley was produced.
As far as the gas reserves are concerned, in the last year these have been increasing at an unprecedented rate and there is so much now beyond what Alberta can use in the next 30 years that there appears little doubt adequate reserves will be provided for the Trans-Canada gas line by the Alberta petroleum and natural gas conservation board.
As is well known, oil pipe lines have been built both east and west from Alberta. There is the Interprovincial pipe line, first built to Superior, Wisconsin, at the head of the great lakes, and last summer extended as a 30-inch line capable of carrying 300,000 barrels a day to Sarnia in southwestern Ontario. Then there is the Trans Mountain pipe line, built from Edmonton to Vancouver, which will be extended to supply refineries in the state of Washington. If present plans for gas pipe lines are fulfilled, as seems now probable, the next two or three years should witness a very large pipe line building program, with gas eventually moving eastward from southern Alberta to supply central Canada, and gas moving from the Peace river area to supply Vancouver and the Pacific coast area of United States.
I wish now, Mr. Chairman, to say something on the activities of the metal mining industry.
Iron ore production showed an increase of over one million short tons over 1952 to a total of 6,501,000 tons as a result of the expansion under way at properties in northwestern Ontario, Newfoundland and British Columbia. The steady growth of the industry in these provinces, and particularly in northwestern Ontario, is expected to raise production this year to well over the seven million ton mark. This is without the addition of output from the Knob Lake iron ore field in Quebec-Labrador and the Marmora property in southeastern Ontario, both of which are expected to enter production later this year.
Two areas shared the spotlight in the search for and development of uranium properties. The Beaverlodge area of northern Saskatchewan proved a hive of activity with several companies carrying out pre-production development work on their properties. Feverish staking in the district of Algoma in northern Ontario followed a uranium strike near Blind River, about halfway between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie, and thousands of claims were staked during the latter half of 1953, and diamond drilling and surface development work is under way.
A huge development program involving hundreds of millions of dollars is now under way to expand nickel-producing facilities in the Sudbury area from which comes 85 per cent of the world output of nickel. In
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Supply-Mines and Technical Surveys addition to the expansion under way by the two major producers, three new companies entered production in the area in 1953. Output increased 6-8 million pounds over 1952 to a total of 287-9 million pounds, and this is expected to reach 320 million pounds this year. This will include production from the Lynn Lake nickel-copper mine in northern Manitoba.
These are only a few of the highlights of Canadian mining in 1953 but they are indicative of an industry that is rapidly going places. Such growth, as is to be expected, has been attended by many and varied problems in mining and metallurgy, which in turn have led to considerable increase in the demands made upon the services available in the Department of Mines and Technical Surveys. These services range from topographical and geological surveys to metallurgical assistance in the extraction of metals and minerals from ores, and they include research into the preparation, bene-ficiation and utilization of the products of the Canadian mining and metal industries.
By steadily expanding its services the department is making every effort to keep pace with the increasingly heavy demands made upon it by a rapidly growing industry. As a consequence, it has been necessary to plan for new laboratory construction; and we hope that construction will start soon. This includes a building that will provide accommodation for mines branch research work on uranium ores and minerals, for its chemical laboratories and for offices for its administrative staff. Also a new building is needed in which to house the geological survey. The construction of a geophysical laboratory will shortly be started to provide space for three divisions of the dominion observatory.
The department comprises five branches: the surveys and mapping branch, the geological survey of Canada, the mines branch, the dominion observatories and the geographical branch.
The surveys and mapping branch produces the maps, aeronautical charts and hydrographic charts necessary for the development and administration of the country and for its defence. The continuing high rate of natural resources development, with no slackening in defence requirements, caused a strong demand for new maps and charts. Including geological maps, almost one million maps and charts were distributed during 1953.
The surveys and mapping branch placed 70 parties in the field in 1953 to carry out geodetic, topographic and legal surveys work. Approximately the same number will be
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Supply-Mines and Technical Surveys sent into the field in 1954. In addition to the regular parties, winter field parties are being used to excellent advantage as they can penetrate into areas which are practically inaccessible during any other season of the year.
In co-operation with the Royal Canadian Air Force, the national research council and the meteorological service of the Department of Transport, the branch continued to cover the far north with shoran trilateration, a new electronic method of measuring long distances on the earth's surface, which permits the extension of control into remote areas much more speedily than by conventional methods of triangulation. Since 1948 when this method was first put into use, the sparsely settled area south of the Arctic archipelago, with the exception of Yukon, has been fairly well covered with shoran trilateration.
It is hoped that this method can be extended, in the coming years, with the assistance of the R.C.A.F., to bridge across from the mainland to cover the southern part of the Arctic archipelago. Some triangulation and precise levelling has been and will continue to be done by the geodetic survey for the St. Lawrence seaway project, and triangulation work will include the area of the Hamilton river on the coast of Labrador.
Using helicopters the topographic survey did topographical mapping over 20,740 square miles of territory in northern Quebec-Labrador in the important mineralized region between Knob Lake and Fort Chimo, about 20 miles south of Ungava bay. Two other helicopter-supported operations are planned for next summer. One of these will operate in the Hamilton river watershed and will assist in providing control data for assessment of power development possibilities along that river and particularly at Grand falls.
A little more work by the topographic survey this coming summer in Newfoundland will complete the horizontal and vertical controls needed to map the province. It is hoped that the island portion of Newfoundland will be fully mapped at the one-mile scale within the next two or three years.
The house will be asked to vote the sum of $1,500,000 for the construction of a new hydrographic ship to ply in northern waters. A great amount of work remains to be done to chart our Arctic seas. As a matter of fact, it will go on for perhaps a hundred years. New and forthcoming mining developments in northern Canada require the charting of new sea routes and of approaches to potential
harbour sites, particularly in Ungava bay, where vast reserves of iron ore have been discovered.
The geological survey of Canada investigates and studies the geology of Canada, thereby assisting in the search for and development of mineral deposits. It also studies ground water supplies, makes soil surveys and investigates bedrock conditions relative to construction project problems. In 1953 it had 79 parties in the field and it expects to send probably 87 parties into the field in 1954.
The possibility that oil may exist in commercial quantities in the northwestern Arctic islands came to light as a result of the geological survey's field work in 1953 on a prominent circular structure on Ellef Ringnes island. Air photographs have revealed several such structures on these islands. These structures appear to be similar to the salt domes in the oil fields of Texas and Louisiana, many of which have formed traps for highly productive oil pools.
In 1954, it is proposed to undertake an airborne geological reconnaissance survey in the area lying west of Hudson bay and east of Great Slave lake. This survey is identified as "Operation Baker" and is an extension of "Operation Keewatin" which was conducted in the same general area in 1952. Plans are being made for another extension- "Operation Thelon" for 1955. The survey thus hopes to map the entire area between latitudes 60 and 65 and between Hudson bay and Great Slave lake by the end of 1955.
The office maintained by the geological survey of Canada in Calgary, Alberta, gave special attention to the study of oil and gas structures in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In its office at Sydney, Nova Scotia, the survey continued to make a microscopic study of coal particularly for correlation of coal seams. These two offices in Calgary and Sydney will continue their work throughout the coming fiscal year; also the offices in Vancouver and Yellowknife will continue to serve the public. The intensive interest in prospecting for uranium resulted in the radiometric assay of approximately 1,200 samples by the radioactivity resources division of the geological survey. The division revised and published a second edition of 5,000 copies of the handbook, "Prospecting for Uranium in Canada". It is expected that this division will be even busier in the coming year with the intensified search for and discovery of uranium deposits.
An airborne aeromagnetic survey will be conducted next summer in that region north of Beaverlodge and extending into the North-
west Territories, in the hope of delimiting the northward extent of the Beaverlodge uranium-bearing geological formations.
The activities of our mines branch are directly concerned with the technological problems of the mining and metal industry and the branch maintains well equipped laboratories for tests, investigative work and research on these problems in the buildings down on Booth street. If any hon. members have the spare time, we would be very pleased to have them go down there and see what is being done.
The following are some of the highlights of mines branch activities during 1953. Forty-four reports were made to organizations submitting bulk ore samples for testing. Those on the treatment of ores from new properties included, when requested, recommendations for the design of flow sheets for the milling plants. A number of shipments were received from operating properties, and reports on these included recommendations for improving the treatment of the ores and reducing operating costs. Work in 1954 will include studies on the treatment of the complex New Brunswick ores of the Bathurst area.
Research was continued with encouraging results on the baffling problem of producing titanium metal of high purity at costs which would permit its wider use in industry. The development of an efficient economic process would mean that the large deposits of ilme-nite at Allard Lake in Quebec would become an important source of the metal. This research will be continued in 1954.