Item 1 - The Mining and Smelting of Canadian Nickel

Part I Part II

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The Mining and Smelting of Canadian Nickel

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ON00120 019-1

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  • Transferred to VHS before 1999 (original ca. 1916) (Creation)

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1 VHS Tape

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(1945 - present)

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One silent film of Mond Nickel mines in the Sudbury area. Film is divided up into the following sections by title cards (time each card appears in the film is noted before each title card caption);

Part I

00:00 – The Mining and Smelting of Canadian Nickel, Mond Nickel Company, Coniston, Ontario, Canada
00:08– Nature’s Storehouse and the Company Mines
01:24– Diamond drilling to determine location and extent of ore body
02:01– A Typical Nickel Mine
02:12– Let us go down into the mine and see how Nickel Ore is obtained
02:57– We will follow the car through passages called “Drifts” far below the surface
04:14–The end of the drift. Drill runners preparing a blast to extend the drift to reach new work
05:24– With compressed air force and great noise the sharp edges cut into the ore while a stream of water pours through the hole to keep the drill cool
06:23- Dynamite handle with care
06:31– Fuses eight feet long burn four minutes. Detonating cap being placed on end of fuse
06:41– The cap is inserted in the charge of dynamite
07:02– Ten or twelve holes are made from four to ten feet deep in a surface of five square yards
07:21– One stick of dynamite is placed in each hole for every foot of depth, about 30 lbs. in all, the last stick in each hole has a fuse attached
08:30– We didn’t wait to see what happened, but this was the result
09:15– When main development drift is finished the ore above on each side is measured into sections called stopes, 100 feet wide, 100 feet high and as deep as the ore runs, leaving a pillar of solid ore 40 feet thick between the stopes as a brace
09:43– Each stope is mined as a unit – Sub drifts run from main development drift under each stope. Draw holes are run up at 45 degrees from the drift to develop the stope and draw out the ore
09:57– Each stope has several draw holes from twenty-five to thirty-five feet apart – a draw hole viewed from the drift
10:22– Let us follow the miner into the stope
10:42– Here a stoping gallery is made 8 feet high and full size of stope. The roof or hanging wall at the high side is cut horizontally and broken down forming a perpendicular face which is carried, blast after blast, the full length of the stope
11:02– These blasts are fired by electricity
11:17– Section after section layers eight feet thick are blasted from the roof and broken up on the floor. Lumps too big to be broken up with hammers are broken with a small dynamite blast. Blasting large lumps
12:16– One third of ore is removed, two thirds are left on floor to stand on in reaching the hanging wall when blasting down the next layer
12:33– This operation is repeated to within ten feet of the floor of the next level above. When all the draw holes are closed, the miners enter and leave by “rises” from the drifts above
12:50– Miners going up out of a stope through a rise. These rises serve also as auxiliary shafts in case of fire or closing of mine shaft
13:22– When all the ore in the stope is blasted down and broken up, the drawholes underneath are opened and the ore removed
14:39-This – the cheapest and safest method of Copper Nickel mining is followed in 90% of Mond Nickel Co. operations – 100,000 tons of ore are stored in this way at one time
14:59– Diagram of overhand stope mining method
15:23– In the underhand method of mining, one draw hole is made at 45 degrees through the stope – then a working gallery is made at the top of the stope. The ore is mined and blasted downward through the draw hole and removed at once. Scene in an underhand stope
15:55– In ever widening series of ledges like a great funnel this ore is mined and removed
16:09– Men with scaling ladders constantly inspect the walls of partially emptied stopes to remove dangerous loose pieces of ore
16:59– The skip may be loaded direct from cars on main drift – cars hold two tons – two cars fill the skip
17:44– It is not always convenient to load skips at each level. Ore may be passed down through storage pockets to a suitable loading level far below
18:09– The grating over the passage to lower level is called a grizzly and is for protection of men. This ore goes direct to loading pocket, a great bin cut 50 feet deep in the rock
18:26– From the main drift above loading level, ore is passed from cars through grizzly to loading bin
18:50– The ore is measured into skip loads weighing four tons. The skip weighs three tons
19:36– A waste dump on each level where rock is loaded direct into skip
19:55– Drills dull very quickly and must be taken up to be sharpened
20:20– Ladders as well as the skip run to the lowest level
20:31– Telephones furnish communication between the drifts and the offices above
20:59– The end of the shift. All aboard for daylight
22:11– Safety switch on operator’s bridge stops all motion instantly in case of accident or danger
22:33– Compensating balance of the two skips and cable
22:45– Skips carrying ore go direct to top of shaft house
23:20– On next floor below ore and rock is separated – both pass through crushers and are broken up
23:49– From crushers the waste rock goes direct to bins over railway cars. Ore goes through a revolving screen which sifts out the “fines”
24:13– On the picking belts, waste rock, low grade ore and high grade ore are separated
24:32– Waste rock, fines, low grade ore and high grade ore are being loaded into cars from bins
25:01– Let us inspect the equipment above ground before following the ore to the smelter
25:10– Power used throughout the mines, smelter and town sites is Hydro-Electric generated at the Company’s own development plants and transmitted over 72 miles of line. Wabagashik – the Company’s first power development
25:56– Seventy feet of head, developing 5,000 Horse Power
26:33– Two horizontal twin turbines develop 1250 H.P. each

Part II

00:00– Nairn Falls, four miles from Wabagashik, capable of developing 7,200 Horse Power
00:45– Two single runner vertical turbines develop 2,400 H.P. each
01:12– The power lines – 44,000 volts leaving power house
01:42– At mines, power is transformed to 500 and 110 volts for service – Transformer station at mines
02:03– Three compressors supply 7,700 cubic feet of air per minute to pumps, air cranes, forges, skip brakes and 80 miner’s drills
02:44– Sharpening ore drills. Clearing water passage and retempering
03:35– The repair shops at the mine
03:48– The dynamite house is far removed from other buildings, only 24 hours supply kept on hand
04:09– Dynamite freezes at 40 degrees and must be thawed out
04:22– The store house and mine offices. A “shift” is checking in
04:32– A well equipped emergency hospital for first aid
04:47– The dry house. Hot air below – ventilation above – Clothes are dry when needed again
05:31– Homeward bound – clean and happy
05:49– At Levack mine connections with main line C.P.R. four miles distant is made over the Mond Nickel Co’s own right of way and equipment
06:10– “Old Reliable” the Mond Mine at Victoria, 3,000 feet deep – the deepest mine in Canada
06:52– Worthington Mine
07:06– Garson Mine has ten levels and is the greatest producer
08:01– Bruce Mine supplies 50 tons of quartz daily for smelting purposes, and pays its way by the Copper produced
08:22– The ore from all the mines is brought to Coniston, Ont. for smelting
09:21– All material is brought into smelter and moved from process to process in car load lots over standard gauge in Railway or the Company’s own cars by the Company’s own motive power. Ore train arriving from the Mines
10:01– All material entering smelter is weighed and taken to storage bins at smelter or to storage yard. High grade ore on the scales
10:39– Unloading high grade green ore at the storage yard
11:15– The Storage Yard
11:53– From the scales the green ore may be taken direct to smelter storage bins
12:16– Ore having as low as 15 to 20 pounds of Copper Nickel to the ton and formerly rejected, is now separated by a system of oil flotation. Low grade ore is first taken to the rock house and broken up
13:01– The flotation mill where low grade ore passes through a series of processes to secure the small amount of valuable metal
13:24– Here the ore is ground as fine as meal between rolls and screened
13:53– The oversize returns to the mill. The fine is mixed with water in a feeder
14:11– The concentrating tables make the first reparation of metal from dross. The concentration or valuable ore pass over and – the dross is watched over the ride.
14:37—The concentration pass to the settling tanks. The rejected ore is carried into a tube mill and ground very fine.
15:02—Very fine ore is carried to first floatation unit, oil, and sulphuric acid are added, and the mixture churned into froth.
15:20—The valuable ore is coated by the oil and floats to the surface into bubbles.
15:36—The remaining ore settles to the bottom and is drown into second unit where it is again churned up and the concentrates removed.
15:54—This process is followed through ten similar units. Finally, the middlings are returned to the head of the system—tailings go to dump.
16:18—Concentrates are sent to settling tank where ore gravitates to bottom—water overflows into receiving trough
16:42— these concentrates also fine green ore from the mines and valuable flue dust from the blast furnaces are fused together in sintering plant.
16:58—Cars of concentrates, fine ore and flue dust are emptied into bins at top of sintering plant.
17:24—Gates measure correct quantities onto endless belt carriers.
17:55—Seperated into two streams – one for each sintering machine
18:16—loading the sintering machine – coarse grain on bottom, fine on top
18:36—an oil blast is forced through the sinter to fire box below causing incipient fusion of all particles together and removing 15% of the sulphur
19:40— The fusion or sponge like formation binds the particles together yet allows free action of furnace blast increasing the furnace capacity for green ore
20:13— The sinter is taken to smelter storage bins
20:18—Loading high grade green ore, sinter, coke and limestone onto furnace charging cars at bottom of storage bins.
21:01—Charging one of the four great furnaces each unit with capacity of 750 tons daily, 4 ½ % metal value. This process is constant.
22:31—Lower section of blast furnaces and water jackets.
22:42: Air pressure pipes—exhausts stack—and passage way from storage bins to smelter.
23:01—22 tons of valuable ore dust is collected in these flue bins daily.
23:20—Flowing at a temperature of 900 to 1050 degrees molten medal is constantly pouring into settler.
23:43—The Settler. The limestone added in furnace charge has heated the iron and rock making it fluid, being lighter this dross rises to the surface in settler and constantly pours off in the form of slag.
24:22—Slag pots, each holding 40 tons being emptied on the slag dump.
25:47—Over 1000 tons of slag are added to this dump every day
26:13—Let us return to the settler. The ore enters the settler—4 ½ % nickel copper from the furnaces. The iron and rock flow off the top as slag.
26:30—The nickel, copper, and some iron gravitate to the bottom and are drawn off at intervals in great ladles. This furnace matte is 16% nickel copper.
27:07—Lifting fifteen tons of molten metal from settler to the magnesite brick lined converters.
27:46—To this molten mass is added silica quartz from Bruce Mine as a flux.
28:02— Adding oxygen under 12lbs, pressure, the iron is Bessemerized at a temperature of 950 to 1100 degrees
28:26—The iron slag is drawn off at intervals and returned to settler where any remaining nickel copper gravitates to bottom
28:50—As ore and quarts are added and slag drawn off, nickel copper deposit gradually rises in convertor to 45 or 50 ton weight when 80% copper nickel called 80% Bessemer Matte is drawn off and poured into moulds.
30:16—Cooling – Breaking – Crushing Matte
31:00 – Measuring –weighing – barreling matte for shipment
32:29—Ore enroute to seaboard
32:45— The smelter equipment. The Power-House, Company’s own Hydro-Electric throughout
33:14—Six Company locomotives are houses here
33:37—General view of Company’s well equipped repair shops
35:12—The store-house where $250,000 worth of stock is kept
35:21—The laboratory is finally equipped for metallurgic work
36:34—The Drafting Room
36:45—The General Offices
37:02—“All aboard for town”
37:27—“Coniston” from the hill-top—1200 population—half mile from smelter
38:14—Bessemer Matte 80% copper-nickel

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Immediate source of acquisition


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  • englanti

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Vale, Toronto, Ontario

Availability of other formats

This film is also available in DVD format. Retired INCO miners Jim Dufour and Jack Gingras provided commentary for this silent film in November 2011 to help explain to researchers at the archives what was happening in the film. This commentary is available on the DVD copy of the film.

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Video was originally on 16mm film and was transferred to VHS by Jim Durfour. The 16mm film the copy was made from was then distroyed.

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