May 17, 2020

The story of the Wallingford Back-Mine

mine closure
Canadian Mining
Quebec mine
Dale Benton
2 min
The Wallingford Back-Mine. Photo: Laura Wheeler
When a mine closes, sometimes its for good. We have looked at some of the worlds most interesting closed mines and the stories behind them, be it a ghos...

When a mine closes, sometimes it’s for good. We have looked at some of the world’s most interesting closed mines and the stories behind them, be it a ghost town, untouched since the shutters came down or a tourism spot, allowing the general public to marvel at the cultural and historical significance of the one-time mines.

In Western Quebec there is one closed mine that is a hot topic of conversation. The Wallingford-Back Mine, closed in 1972, has become something of an unofficial tourist attraction.

Accessible by snow-shoe, cross country ski, and hiking trails, visitors flock to the mine to skate on the frozen lake during the winter, and hike, rock climb, scuba dive and in some cases zip line.

The catch is however, that due to the dangers presented by the mine (difficult terrain, cracks in unstable rock, no telephone reception) the Quebec Ministry if Energy and Natrual Resources have threatened to demolish the mine in 2017 if the regional municipality of Papineau does not invest money and secure it from trespassers.

A petition has been launched by supporters of the mine, to save the “undeniable richness not only for the Outaouais region, but also for all of Quebec”.

Chantal Crête, one of the founders of a group devoted to preserving the mine, believes that demolition is not the answer, as the high footfall of visitors could easily justify it becoming an official tourist site or museum.

What is the Wallingford-Back-Mine?

Located around 60 kilometres’ northeast of Ottawa, Canada

The mine was discovered in 1924 by an unnamed prospector. The feldspar and quartz deposit was rumoured to have been sold to George Wallingford, for a bag of potatoes.

That same year, Wallingford sole the rights to the mine to the Canadian Flint and Spar company for a bit more than a bag or potatoes, $12,000 in fact.

It was acquired in 1939 by Consolidated Feldspar, before the International Mineral and Chemical Corporation came in and acquired it (again).

By this point, the Wallingford Back-Mine was the largest mine in North America, with 225,000 tons of feldspar and 150,000 tons of quartz.

 The mine was closed in 1972


Photo: Richard Larocque


The September issue of Mining Global Magazine is live!

Follow @MiningGlobal

Get in touch with our editor Dale Benton at [email protected]

Share article

Jul 20, 2021

British Lithium Pressured Due To Calls for Electric Cars

3 min
The ever-increasing need for electric vehicles is mounting pressure on British Lithium as the 2035 deadline inches closer

The British demand for lithium is set to reach 75,000 tonnes by 2035 as the government works towards their ban on the sale of high-polluting diesel and petrol vehicles within the UK. This comes as automakers worldwide continue to insist on the benefits electric vehicles will have on slowing the rate of climate change. 

It is estimated that the UK will require 50,000-60,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year by 2035 for battery production to satisfy government needs. This is assuming production remains at 1.2 million vehicles per year, and the amount of lithium required does not increase.

British Lithium, which hopes to begin constructing a quarry to produce 20,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year in a $400 million investment, are not without competitors, both within the UK and abroad. 

Competition For Lithium Rises In Europe 

After only five years after its initial launch, Cornish Lithium is setting its sights on becoming a UK powerhouse in mining lithium, aiming to begin commercial production in under four years. Jeremy Wrathall, a former investment banker and current managing director of Cornish Lithium, had the future in mind when founding the company. 

“In 2016, I started to think about the electric vehicle revolution and what that would mean for metal demand, and I started to think about lithium,” he said in an interview with AFP. “A friend of mine mentioned lithium being identified in Cornwall, and I just wondered if that was a sort of unrecognised thing in the UK.”

Lithium was first discovered in Cornwall around 1864 and has not been mined again since 1914 when it was produced as an ingredient in fireworks. Now, however, Cornish Lithium is reportedly in the testing stage to see if the metal can be produced commercially to meet the growing demand required for the electric car sector. 

Despite Cornwall’s close historic ties to mining lithium, Wrathall insists that the project is purely commercial. 

Cornish Mining Revival For Lithium Production

“It’s not a mission that drives me to the point of being emotional or romantic,” he says. “It’s vitally important that we do get this technology otherwise Europe has got no lithium supply.”

The European Commission has also stated their goal to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 to aid the environment. That being said, the majority of lithium extraction currently relies on power provided by environmentally damaging fossil fuels─a slight contradiction. 

Alex Keynes, from the Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment, is adamant that mining for lithium should be done sustainably. 

“Our view is that medium-to-long term, the majority of materials including lithium should come from efficient and clean recycling.

“Europe from a strategic point of view should be looking at securing its own supply of lithium.”

Despite growing competition from abroad, British Lithium Chairman, Roderick Smith, continues to place importance on the mining of lithium within the UK. 

“Imagine what the UK economy would look like if we lost our automotive industry,” Smith says. “The stakes are high for the UK.”

Smith expects the UK to compete with other European countries to secure a lithium battery plant in the near future.

Share article