JEWEL OF THE KOOTENAYS:
THE EMERALD MINE

Tucked away in the West Kootenays, the well-known Emerald mine operated under three different owners, between 1905 and 1973. Now for the first time the history of this mine has been compiled in a book.

Although the mine is commonly referred to as "the Emerald," this is actually the name of just one of its ore bodies. In its earlier days it was also known as "Iron Mountain," after the mountain on which it was situated as well as after the company that first owned it. During its last decades of operation the mine was more generally referred to as "Canex" - an abbreviation of Canadian Exploration Company Ltd., then its owner.

The mine had the distinction of having six ore bodies in close proximity, two of which produced lead-zinc ore and the others scheelite�the ore of tungsten. Being able to produce two ore types whose prices did not move in tandem, the mine managed to stay open even when other mines had to shut down because of low prices. When lead and zinc prices were low, the mine produced tungsten, and when tungsten prices were in the cellar, it switched back to lead and zinc.

There was also a small amount of molybdenum present in some of the tungsten ore, which, although not of much interest during the Canex years, could foretell a profitable future for Apex Resources Inc., the current owners of the mine, especially as a large molybdenum deposit may have been discovered at greater depth.

Under Canex management, the Emerald was a pioneer in its field in that it was the first mine in Canada to use heavy diesel-powered equipment underground instead of the then usual mine cars on tracks. It was ahead of its time in other ways as well, making group sickness insurance mandatory and in several cases going far beyond normal practice in pursuing the welfare of its employees. It also must have been the only mine in the country to have a heated Olympic-sized swimming pool for its employees.

Moreover, the mine became known as the Canex School of Mines, for it trained key personnel for several other large mines, not only in BC, but in the Far East as well.

Life in a company town may often evoke a bleak picture of deprivation and hardship in remote areas, but from the scores of personal accounts in this book the reader will learn that at this mine at least it was very different. The stories of former Canex employees and their families afford a rare glimpse not only into what mining was like half a century ago, but also into the lives of people in this company town, which many remember most fondly.

The book consists of three elements: first, a general history of the mine; second, personal interviews with a large number of people who worked and/or lived at the mine; and third, appendices containing reprints of several articles with largely technical information on the mine�s geology and its mining methods. Thus the book will appeal to a large circle of readers: mining enthusiasts as well as local history buffs.

Author Larry Jacobsen, himself a former miner and Canex employee, is uniquely qualified to write this book. He worked at the mine for a short period in the 1950s, and it was some former colleagues who sold him on telling their stories.

The book is richly illustrated with hundreds of photographs, with some in colour, as well as a number of diagrams and maps, which all help to bring the mine and its people to life.

Soft cover, published, approx. 352 pp. 8¼ x 10½, by Salmo Arts and Museum Society.

The book retails for $29.95 and can be purchased from your favourite bookstore or from the Salmo Arts & Museum Society or directly from the author, Larry Jacobsen at starrider@shaw.ca