Archive | Mining Company History

The Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company, Limited History (1927-1996) – by International Directory of Company Histories

Centennial of the Flin Flon Ore Discovery (May 2015) 

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Company History:

The Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company, Limited, is a major Canadian producer of copper and zinc which operates mines and metal processing facilities in remote areas of the province of Manitoba. The company has been removing metals from the ground for most of the twentieth century, and its efforts to industrialize western Manitoba have helped to foster development in the region.

More than 23 mines have yielded ore to the Hudson Bay metal processing works over the last 60 years, as the company has engaged in aggressive geological exploration to support its metal refining activities.

Hudson Bay got its start in January 1915, when Tom Creighton, an early Canadian prospector, happened upon an outcropping of sulfide ore in an undeveloped area of Manitoba. In the previous decade, prospectors had discovered that an enormous greenstone belt stretched east from Manitoba into northern Saskatchewan. This geological structure contained numerous deposits of different metals mixed together, including zinc, copper, silver, and gold. Continue Reading →

Barrick’s Munk Heads Top Ten Most Important Mining Men in Canadian History – by Stan Sudol

Melanie and Peter Munk

Melanie and Peter Munk

Four Americans Made the List!

A few months ago, my dear colleague Joe Martin, who is the Director of the Canadian Business & Financial History Initiative at Rotman and President Emeritus of Canada’s History Society, asked me a very simple question: who would be considered the most important individual in Canadian mining?

Considering Canada’s lengthy and exceptional expertise in the mineral sector, it was not an easy answer and I decided to research and create a top ten list of the most important mining men in Canadian history.

The lack of women on this list simply reflects the fact that for much of our history most women were not given the educational or social opportunities to excel in business, especially in a rough and male-dominated sector like mining. Times have changed, women are playing key roles in mining today and will definitely be included on this list in the future.

However, a few qualifiers need to be established. This is basically a list of mine builders not mine finders.  Building a company through takeovers and discoveries is one way but I am also focusing on individuals who have built corporate empires and/or who have developed isolated regions of the country with the necessary infrastructure for mines to flourish and create multi-generational jobs, shareholder wealth and great economic impact. Continue Reading →

Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. History (1975 – 1997) – by International Directory of Company Histories

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Company Perspectives: In a world eager for plant nutrients, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. (PCS) offers double strength: by capacity, it is the world’s largest potash company and third largest phosphate producer. Export-oriented, it is a global pace-setter.

Company History: Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. is the world’s largest producer of potash and the third largest producer of phosphate. Potash and phosphate are mined for their essential nutrients, potassium and phosphorus, which are used in making fertilizer. Potassium is used to increase crop yields, raise the food value of certain plants, and aids in resisting diseases leading to crop failure.

Phosphorus, which is instrumental in the process of plant photosynthesis, is necessary for the normal growth of either an animal or plant, and is an essential ingredient for its maintenance and repair. Through an aggressive acquisition policy, the company has been able to make its presence felt throughout the world. Continue Reading →

[Codelco] Corporacion Nacional del Cobre de Chile History (1909-2000) – by International Directory of Company Histories

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Company Perspectives: Codelco’s mission is to maximize the long-term generation of profits and its contribution to the national treasury.

Key Dates:

1909: U.S. mining engineer William Braden sells controlling share of his Braden Copper Co. to the Guggenheim Exploration Co. (Guggenex); the site of the operation is El Teniente in the Andes Mountains north of Santiago.

1910: Another Guggenheim-owned company purchases rights to the Chuquicamata site, in northern Chile’s Atacama Desert.

1915: The Chuquicamata and El Teniente copper mines are in operation. Continue Reading →

Teck Corporation Company History (1913-1997) – by International Directory of Company Histories

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Company Perspectives:

Teck’s mission is to be the leader in new mine development and operations, by providing the best in engineering talent and systems, having a strong financing capacity and by dealing with our partners on a fair and open basis. Teck projects come in on time and on budget. We welcome new opportunities for successful mine development and the opportunity to establish relationships with new partners.

Company History:

Teck Corporation is one of the world’s fastest growing diversified mine development and operating companies, producing gold, silver, copper, zinc, niobium and metallurgical coal. Teck is the largest shareholder in Cominco Ltd., a world leader in zinc and lead as well as a producer of copper. The company has working interests in 11 mines located across Canada and a copper mine in Chile. Teck projects usually involve partnerships or joint ventures with other companies, with Teck operating as the builder and project manager. Continue Reading →

Coeur d’Alene Mines Corporation History (1928 – 1998)

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As we look ahead, our strategy for growth remains as straightforward as that which brought us to our current record levels. We continue to target opportunities in politically stable countries with historic mining traditions and ample opportunity for developing production and reserves. Through the efforts of our exceptional group of employees, this past year [1996] we secured a number of important stakes on the separate continents to guarantee continued development this year and beyond.

Company History:

Coeur d’Alene Mines Corporation (Coeur) is a global precious metals producer, specializing in the exploration, extraction, and development of both gold and silver resources in its seven active gold and/or silver mines. Directly and through its subsidiaries, the company operates primarily within North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand. Coeur silver is used in film, jewelry, medicine, batteries, electrical appliances, in high technology defense and scientific applications (where instant bursts of electric power are required), and as a bacteria killer in water–reusable laundry discs using silver can eliminate the need for detergents.

Due to its ability to bind specialized superconductive materials together, silver is expected to play a significant role in a new era of high temperature superconductors–materials that conduct electricity with little or no electrical resistance. Silver and gold are being used to remove frost from automobile and airplane windows, by conducting heat through a nearly invisible layer of silver embedded in the glass. Continue Reading →

Alcan Aluminium Limited History (1902 – 2000)

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Strength, growth and value are at the core of Alcan’s strategic intent. We do more than make and sell aluminum–we build alliances with all our stakeholders. We also take pride in developing and delivering value-added differentiated aluminum products making Alcan the partner of choice. Strength reflects Alcan’s strong financial state, its healthy debt-to-equity ratio and improved profitability.

It also signifies the quality and dedication of Alcan’s employees. Finally, strength together with light weight, thermal and electrical conductivity, barrier qualities, infinite recyclability and many other characteristics make aluminum … the material of choice.

Growth is working with all our stakeholders to develop and deliver value-added, differentiated aluminum products, bringing increased value to our customers. It means continuous improvement in everything we do–earnings, technology, employee development, safety, and environmental stewardship. Growth is about looking to a new future as we enter the new millennium–fully optimizing our existing assets and aggressively pursuing opportunities to grow shareholder value.

Value is the reason we’re here. It is an ongoing commitment to our shareholders, to our customers, to and by our employees to create value in everything we do. It also symbolizes Alcan’s values–our ethics, our conduct, our reputation. Continue Reading →

Hecla Mining Company History (1891 – 1998)

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Hecla Mining Company is a precious metals company with an important industrial minerals component. Our business is to create value for our shareholders by discovering, acquiring, developing, producing and marketing mineral resources at a profit. To achieve our mission we will: Manage all business activities in a safe, environmentally responsible and cost-effective manner; Give preference to projects where Hecla can be the operator; Provide an environment for achieving personal excellence and growth for all our people; Willingly accept our responsibility to be a good corporate citizen by contributing to the well-being of the communities where we work and live; Conduct our business with integrity and honesty.

Company History:

The oldest of Idaho’s pioneer mining companies, Hecla Mining Company mines and processes silver, gold, and industrial minerals in the United States and Mexico. Hecla Mining earned the bulk of its income initially from its namesake Hecla mine, which yielded substantial ores of lead for four decades. Following the closure of its mainstay Hecla mine in the mid-1940s, the company subsisted on zinc before dabbling in uranium and securing its second mainstay mine, a silver-lead mine named Lucky Friday.

Hecla Mining ran into trouble during the 1970s with copper production, but strong silver prices revived the company and fueled an aggressive growth program during the early 1980s that included two important acquisitions, Day Mines, Inc. in 1981 and Ranchers Exploration and Development Corporation in 1984. Continue Reading →

Grupo Mexico, S.A. de C.V. History (1892 – 2001)

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Company History: Grupo Mexico, S.A. de C.V. is Mexico’s largest mining company and the world’s third largest producer of copper, fourth largest of silver, and fifth largest of zinc. It also engages in the mining and processing of other minerals, principally gold, lead, and molybdenum. In addition to its holdings in Mexico, Grupo Mexico owns ASARCO, Inc., a company with many mining facilities in the United States and a majority stake in Southern Peru Copper Corporation Grupo Mexico also holds the majority share in Mexico’s longest railway.

Under U.S. Ownership: 1892-1965

Grupo Mexico originated not with a Mexican company but with the activities of the Guggenheim family of the United States, through their M. Guggenheim’s Sons partnership, which had been investing in U.S. mining and smelting operations since 1880. In 1889 Simon Guggenheim persuaded some Mexican mine owners to send their silver ores to the Guggenheim smelter in Pueblo, Colorado. After Congress imposed a heavy duty on imported ores the following year, the Guggenheims established smelters in Monterrey (1892) and Aguascalientes (1895) and first leased, then bought, mines in Mexico yielding lead, iron, silver, and copper.

By 1901 Guggenheim-owned smelters were processing 40 percent of the lead and 20 percent of the silver mined in Mexico. Meanwhile, industrialists in the United States were forming a cartel-like trust of large smelting operations, founded in 1899 as the American Smelting and Refining Co. (ASARCO). Continue Reading →

Alcoa Inc. History (1888 – 2003)

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Company Perspectives: At Alcoa, our vision is to be the best company in the world in the eyes of our customers, shareholders, communities and people. We expect and demand the best we have to offer by always keeping Alcoa’s values top of mind. Integrity: Alcoa’s foundation is our integrity. We are open, honest and trustworthy in dealing with customers, suppliers, coworkers, shareholders and the communities where we have an impact. Environment, Health and Safety: We work safely in a manner that protects and promotes the health and well being of the individual and the environment.

Customer: We support our customers’ success by creating exceptional value through innovative product and service solutions. Excellence: We relentlessly pursue excellence in everything we do, every day. People: We work in an inclusive environment that embraces change, new ideas, respect for the individual and equal opportunity to succeed. Profitability: We earn sustainable financial results that enable profitable growth and superior shareholder value. Accountability: We are accountable individually and in teams for our behaviors, actions and results. We live our Values and measure our success by the success of our customers, shareholders, communities and people.

Company History:

The largest aluminum manufacturer in the world, Alcoa Inc. produces aluminum and alumina for automotive, aerospace, commercial transportation, construction, packaging, and other markets. Active worldwide in all major elements of the industry, Alcoa’s operations include mining, refining, smelting, fabricating, recycling, and developing technology. Continue Reading →

Newmont Mining Corporation History (1921- 1993)

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Newmont Mining Corporation, primarily through two subsidiaries, is engaged in the exploration, mining, and processing of gold. The bulk of Newmont’s revenue is generated by Newmont Gold Company (NGC), of which parent Newmont controls a 90.1 percent interest. Operating in Nevada along a 38-mile stretch of the Carlin Trend, NGC is North America’s leading producer of gold. NGC controls a 58-square-mile area of mineral rights in the Carlin region, while Newmont owns rights to a surrounding additional 420 square miles. In 1991, NGC accounted for about $573 million of Newmont’s $623 million total sales, mining 132 million tons of gold ore and selling 1.58 million ounces of gold.

Newmont’s other main subsidiary is the wholly owned Newmont Exploration Limited (NEL) whose role is to discover new gold deposits in NGC’s areas of interest and to determine the minable ore reserves in these deposits by drilling. In exchange for a 10 percent royalty, NGC has rights to any gold discovered by NEL in the 2,300-square-mile area around its Carlin property. Newmont’s cost to produce an ounce of gold in 1991–$203–was a more efficient rate than 75 percent of the Western world’s gold production.

Newmont was founded in 1921 as Newmont Corporation by Colonel William Boyce Thompson as a type of holding company for his varied financial interests. Thompson was born in 1869 in Alder Gulch, Montana, and grew up in Butte. An overweight, cigar-smoking man with a penchant for gambling (a telling hobby for someone in his line of work), Thompson eventually landed at the Columbia School of Mines, after which he made some money in the coal business. Continue Reading →

Kinross Gold Corporation History (1993 – 2001)

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In just five years Kinross Gold Corporation went from a newly formed company to North America’s fifth largest gold producer. With revenues of $318 million in 1999, the young company considers itself the fastest growing gold producer in the world and its 1998 merger with Amax Gold helped put it there.

Among its flagship operations are the aptly named Fort Knox in Alaska, Hoyle Pond in northern Ontario, and the Kubaka property in eastern Russia. Kinross also mines properties in Chile, Zimbabwe, and in the United States’ richest gold vein, Nevada. Though gold is its raison d’être, Kinross also mines significant quantities of silver.

Birth of Kinross: 1992-93

Gold derived its name from the Latin aurum and its luster, malleability, and anticorrosive qualities have made it a prized possession since the earliest civilizations. More than 170 years after the establishment of the gold standard in 1821, several Canadian companies began discussions to unite and create a new company. Two of these companies were publicly held and controlled gold mining interests; the third was the equally-owned offspring of one of the gold industry’s titans, Placer Dome, Inc., and Dundee Bancorp. Continue Reading →

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc. History (1912 – 2004)

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Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc. is engaged in exploring, mining, producing, processing, and marketing metals. It is one of the world’s largest and lowest-cost producers of copper, and it controls the single largest gold reserve in the world. Its principal asset is its Grasberg mine, in Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), the western half of the island of New Guinea, in Indonesia. This huge mine has proven copper and gold reserves expected to last for some 30 years. The mine is partially owned by Freeport’s principal subsidiary, FT Freeport Indonesia.

Roots in the Early 20th Century

Freeport McMoRan began in 1912 under the name of Freeport Sulphur Company. It pioneered the use of the Frasch invention in the United States as an engineering method to mine sulfur. Prior to the Frasch invention, Italy monopolized the sulfur market because of its cheap labor. Herman Frasch’s invention, which utilized machinery rather than manual labor, allowed U.S. companies to produce the element at competitive world prices. The process involved flushing large quantities of hot water into pipelines sunk inward toward the sulfur find.

As the ore melted, it was pumped to the surface in liquid form. The process initially had been engineered on a find near Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 1894. Continue Reading →

Cominco Ltd. History (1906 – 2001)

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Incorporated in Canada in 1906, Cominco Ltd. has emerged as a leading integrated zinc and copper producer. With mines in Canada, the United States, Chile, and Peru, Cominco is the world’s largest producer of zinc concentrate as well as the fourth-largest zinc metal refiner. Additionally, Cominco produces lead, silver, gold, germanium, and indium. The company’s head office is situated in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, while it oversees subsidiaries worldwide. Teck Corporation is the largest single shareholder with 44 percent of Cominco’s Common Shares.

The Beginning: 1850-1900

Cominco’s history reaches back to the Gold Rush in the second half of the 19th century. Thousands of placer prospectors flocked to the unexplored wilderness that was later to become the Province of British Columbia. (Placer refers to a gravel deposit containing particles of gold). Although the Gold Rush ended after ten years, it hastened the proclamation of the Colony of British Columbia in 1858 and influenced the development of trails throughout the region.

The newly created trails made it possible for the remaining prospectors to move further afield. Before long, placer gold was discovered in various parts of the Kootenay region in southeastern British Columbia. Soon after, steamboat service along the upper Columbia River made it easier for miners, prospectors, and others to reach the area.

Despite these transportation enhancements, mining activity was limited until the coming of the railways 20 years later. Continue Reading →

Homestake Mining Company History (1877-2000)

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Homestake has maintained a major role in the gold mining industry for over 120 years. Since 1990, the Company has produced 17 million gold and equivalent ounces. At the end of 1999, Homestake’s share of proven and probable reserves amounted to 18.8 million ounces of gold and 110 million ounces of silver. Homestake operates both underground and open pit mines and uses a variety of mineral processing methods to extract gold, including conventional milling, heap leaching and roasting. The Company has received numerous industry awards for its superior record in the environmental, health and safety areas. Key Dates:

Company History: Owner and operator of the oldest gold mine in the United States, Homestake Mining Company is an international gold mining company with substantial gold interests in Canada and Australia, as well as smaller interests in Chile. From the company’s Homestake mine, which began producing gold in 1876, Homestake Mining has built a mining empire that has vaulted it past all competitors and ranked it as the premier gold producer in U.S. history.

The Race for Gold in the 1870s

In 1874, a U.S. Cavalry scouting party led by Lt. Col. George A. Custer inched its way through the deep valleys and steep ridges carved into the Black Hills of Dakota Territory, 15 years before the region became part of the country’s 40th state, South Dakota. Continue Reading →