Mining has been the mainstay of our community. Currently the Chisel North Mine and Concentrator are operating. HudBay Minerals is in the construction stages of a new zinc mine at Lalor. There is also a large gold deposit at Lalor that will be developed in the future.
Following are interesting photos of mining operations. There is currently exploration in Snow Lake area for gold, zinc, copper and various other metals, and it is expected that the area will boom again.
Chisel North Mine
Here is the opening to the ramp for the Photo Lake mine which has now been extended 2.5 kilometers to the Chisel North mine. Ore trucks which are capable of hauling as much as ten tons of ore are used to haul the ore to the surface up this ramp.
This is an aerial view of the old Photo Lake mine which is now used as the entrance to the Chisel North Mine. This mine is located about 20 kilometres outside of town. On the left is the opening to the ramp which leads to the mine. In the middle foreground is the ore stockpile and on the right of the picture are the mechanics' shop and mine offices.
This is the Chisel Lake open pit mine which is no longer operational and is filled with water. Underneath it lies the Chisel North Mine.
On the right, the surface diamond drill is part of the exploration process to test for minerals and to determine the location and size of ore bodies. Below, the core samples from diamond drills are split and analyzed to detemine the presence and grade of any ore present.
Here is a picture of the ventilation system; it's used to distribute fresh air underground and remove dust and exhaust fumes.
HudBay Minerals Inc. has been the major industrial company at Snow Lake. HudBay operated one mine south-west of town at Chisel North which produces high grade zinc. Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting (later to become HudBay Minerals Inc. in December 2004) took over from Howe Sound Mines in the late 1950's and in 1960 produced its first copper and zinc from its new mine at Chisel Lake which is sixteen kilometres by road south and west of the town.
Five years later HBM&S opened a second mine at Stall Lake east of Snow Lake and in 1968 opened a third mine at Osborne Lake a few kilometers further down the road from Stall Lake. By 1979 HBM&S had opened a concentrator near the Stall Lake mine and had five operating mines around Snow Lake. Through the 1980's one mine after another was depleted and closed, and by 1990 HBM&S had no more operating mines in the Snow Lake area.
An intense program of exploration, however, led to the opening of an open pit mine at Chisel Lake and when that closed, the opening of a mine at Photo Lake two and a half kilometers east of the Chisel Lake open pit.
This mine was operational from 1994 to 1998 when it was depleted of the high grade copper it was producing. Between 1998 and 2000 a decline ramp was driven from the bottom of the Photo Lake Mine to the current Chisel North Mine, just north of the old Chisel Lake mine. The Chisel North mine had been operational since 2000 and produced about 16,000 tons of zinc per year. It was expected to have a life of about ten years.