(Originally published in the January 2012 issue of the Nova Scotia Business Journal - Outlook 2012 Special Edition)
Mining, quarrying and mineral exploration has been a major economic force and a major factor in the development of the heritage and economic well-being of rural Nova Scotia for nearly three centuries.
The global downturn has not left Nova Scotia unscathed as miners and explorers in the province continue to export their products and seek new resources that will enhance the economy and invite resource development dollars into the province. In 2009, exploration expenditures in Nova Scotia were approximately $9 million, increasing to $19 million, even in the face of a 50 per cent reduction in gypsum production largely resulting from the decline of gypsum exports to the U.S. Production of other commodities such as coal, salt, limestone and silica sand have remained fairly steady.
Nova Scotia is well situated with favourable geology and excellent infrastructure, enviable air and marine linkages and a highly skilled workforce, but it is not without its challenges. The mining and quarrying industry in Nova Scotia, for example, is the only resource sector in the province that is excluded from the fuel tax rebate program for its off-highway activities. The province has also regulated that 12 per cent of Nova Scotia lands will become protected areas by 2015. This negatively impacts current and future exploration and development, and the lack of a mineral incentive program for Nova Scotia explorers further adds to the struggle that the mineral resource sector faces.
On the horizon, rural Nova Scotia will benefit from activities, jobs and revenues with the anticipated Black Point aggregate quarry in Guysborough County, the development and start-up of the Donkin coalmine, the re-start of the ScoZinc zinc-lead mine in Gays River, and the continued effort toward production at the Moose River Gold project.
LEADER TO WATCH: Wally Bucknell
Wally Bucknell, geologist and CEO of Australian-listed company Atlantic Gold NL, is no stranger to success.
With four decades of experience in mineral exploration and resource development in Canada and Australia, mainly with Rio Algom and Plutonic Resources, Bucknell has made many discoveries over the years. Through the 1990s he and his team of geologists at Plutonic discovered over 10 million ounces of gold. The blind discovery of a two-million ounce Centenary gold deposit at Darlot in Western Australia and other important discoveries earned him The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies’ (AMEC’s) Prospector of the Year Award in 1999.
Bucknell and his company foresee a substantial and commercially viable, environmentally sustainable and socially acceptable gold mining industry in rural Nova Scotia. This prediction is based, not on the modest and unpredictable production from underground mining of gold-bearing quartz veins of a century ago, but on open-pit mining of gold-bearing shales — a different style of gold mineralization only relatively recently recognized. Atlantic Gold’s Touquoy Gold Project at Moose River Gold Mines will be the first of such mines in Nova Scotia.
*Outlook 2012 Special Edition: Read more about what 2012 holds for Nova Scotia's top industries at: http://www.ns.dailybusinessbuzz.ca/Industry-Spotlight-17342