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Loring Bailey and Ben Baldwin

Geology at the University of New Brunswick has figured prominently in the exploration of the mineral wealth of the Province. In 1861 Loring Woart Bailey was appointed to King’s College, Fredericton to fill the chair in Chemistry and Natural History. Bailey had graduated from Harvard University two years before where he was a student of the famous Swiss palaeontologist and Quaternary geologist Louis Agassiz. Among Bailey’s first friends in New Brunswick was George Matthew, an association that perhaps turned Bailey’s attention toward geology and mineralogy and resulted in successful geological careers for both men. Bailey was engaged by the Province of New Brunswick to conduct a survey of mines and minerals in the Province. In 1864 he published his report that had long-lasting effects on the mining industry. His report is also a fascinating document about the state of mining during the mid-1800s. Bailey visited many of the mines then in operation and he reported on both the good and bad of the contemporary mining industry. Among his many observations was that the Bathurst area would become an important mining area. In the mid-1900s one of the largest lead-zinc mines in the world opened near Bathurst.

In 1951 Ben Baldwin was working on a Master’s degree in geology at the University of New Brunswick, in the same department where Loring Bailey once taught. He was studying rocks from the same area near Bathurst that Bailey predicted would become an important mining area. Baldwin recognized the presence of sphalerite, an important zinc sulphide mineral, in the rocks. He understood that zinc-rich massive sulphides were associated with the region’s iron rocks. Thanks to Baldwin and his research supervisor Dr. Graham McKenzie, mining companies prospecting in the area were now on the lookout for zinc and copper. A drilling program by Anacon Lead Mines Ltd. discovered two zinc-rich massive sulphide deposits. In 1953, a drill hole intersected the ore body that became known as Brunswick No. 12. It turned out to be one of the largest staking rushes in Canadian history. Mining and processing ore began in 1964 and after 50 years had about $20-billion worth of mineral production.