Metal Detecting => The Treasure Hunter Forum => Topic started by: sunshine on December 21, 2012, 10:32:26 PM

Title: Cobalt Ontario
Post by: sunshine on December 21, 2012, 10:32:26 PM
I have made references in other post to the silver area by the town of Cobalt Ontario.  It has been productive in that I think I have found on this forum a good friend to metal detect with the next time I am up to further explore the area.  I am always open to detecting with others as I will learn as much from them as they might potentially learn from me.  Besides that, it is way more fun to share the experience with someone else and revel in their successes as I revel in their’s.

Cobalt has a very interesting history from its discovery to present day.  I used to detect it with a buddy who has since passed away.  Instead, I have been going there in the fall and would combine a grouse hunt with metal detecting.  Last year, the problem with that was I saw more partridge when I was only holding my detector and found some really interesting spot to detect when I only had my gun.  Such is life….

In 1902 the Ontario government decided to build a railway from North Bay to the small farming communities of Haileybury and New Liskeard on the shores of Lake Temiskaming. By the summer of 1903, the railway was reaching a point 103 miles from North Bay. Legend has it that one evening that summer, Fred LaRose, a blacksmith working on the construction of the railway, was in his tent when he saw a fox outside. LaRose grabbed his hammer and threw it at the fox. He missed, and the hammer clanged against a rock face. In the morning LaRose picked up his hammer, and discovered that when he had thrown it, it had chipped away some of the rock and exposed a silver vein. The Cobalt silver camp had been born.
The true stories of the discovery of silver around the Mile 103 section of the railway are not as romantic as the legend, but by the time of the first snow in November of 1903 word of the discovery had spread. By 1905 there were sixteen mines in the area, and in 1911 production exceeded 30,000,000 ounces. Cobalt was the biggest silver mining camp in the world and was known by everyone in North America who ever picked up a newspaper. Mining continued until the 1930's, then slowed to a trickle. Activity renewed in the 1950's then slowly dropped off, and there are no longer any operating mines in the area.

Historical Legacy
The silver mines of Cobalt, and the prospectors and miners that discovered them and worked the mines, have left an indelible mark on Canadian history. The discoveries at Cobalt led the way to further exploration, mining and settlement in northern Ontario and Quebec.
Cobalt was a training ground, the birthplace of hardrock mining in Canada. The ore was close to surface, which meant that men with limited experience could prospect and begin mining, and then hone their skills as the mines went deeper. Those who learned their trade in Cobalt moved north, discovering gold in Kirkland Lake and Timmins and further afield in Canada and around the world. Indeed, Cobalt remains a training ground, with the Carleton University Institute of Environmental Science holding an undergraduate field camp there late each summer.

The discoveries in Cobalt also generated considerable profits for the mining companies and royalties for the provincial government. In the book “Harvest from the Rock” Philip Smith wrote that “It was at Cobalt that Canadian financiers overcame their traditional reluctance to invest in mines, and the money that they made there encouraged them to finance the great expansion of mining that would occur in Ontario over the next half-century”.
My recommendation for anybody who wants to check out the area is to first visit the Cobalt Mining Museum in town.  It will take at least an hour to look through all of the displays, which include silver samples that are for sale and other rocks with gold from other areas of the province.  It boasts to have the largest quantity of silver samples on display in the world

The other thing to keep in mind, is the silver in the area is associated with arsenic.  As such, after any touching of rocks, it is wise to wash your hands so you do not ingest this poison. 

The best treasure story that I have heard was related to me by a friend.  He took a fly in fishing trip on a lake in the area.  The place they cooked their shore lunch  had a number of really heavy black rocks, some of which they used around their campfire.  He put some smaller ones into his pack.  Upon his return to Toronto, he found out that his samples were almost pure silver.  As far as I know, he has not pursued this further but also was unwilling to tell me exactly where he was.  Probably, that spot remains available for discovery….
Title: Re: Cobalt Ontario
Post by: Former Guest on December 22, 2012, 12:14:23 PM
yes sounds interesting for sure sounds like a spot worth looking at in the summer time small operation could do well there cheers
Title: Re: Cobalt Ontario
Post by: sunshine on December 22, 2012, 04:28:54 PM
The big problem is what to do with the heavy silver rocks that you can find?  I said in another post that one clock maker sliced the rocks for clock faces.  Other than that, I have not found a market and have perhaps 1000 lbs of silver in my shed.  I love finding it, but then what?
Title: Re: Cobalt Ontario
Post by: cryptic on December 23, 2012, 01:17:22 PM
Cobalt is a great place to find silver.  It is becoming harder to find each year because so many people visit and try to find silver.  You have to go to places where other people have not been.

Sunshine --  I think I know the person that used to slice and make clocks from the silver slabs.  They have sliced many of my rocks up. 

Here is a picture of a silver slab that I had sliced up from a rock this summer.  It was assayed at close to 4,000 oz/ton. 

There is a company in southern Ontario that I have been in touch with that said they can take the rocks and refine them.  If I remember correctly they said they would pay 85% after refining.  I will send you the name of them.

Title: Re: Cobalt Ontario
Post by: ebuyc on December 23, 2012, 02:55:46 PM
sunshine I would love to se some pictures of your silver specimens how there are found in nature.

I live next to the Idaho Silver Valley and find galena quite often, but not a purer silver. What host rocks does with come with or is it a mix of lead and zinc like here??

Cryptic the camera flash really washed out that picture, any more of that cool slice specimen??

Title: Re: Cobalt Ontario
Post by: cryptic on December 23, 2012, 03:29:28 PM
That was a picture without the flash from my phone.  silver is hard to photograph.  I love sharing pictures so I will get some more and post them up :)
Title: Re: Cobalt Ontario
Post by: sunshine on December 23, 2012, 03:31:25 PM
I will take some pictures of the nicer rocks and post them.  Some have silver squezing out of the vein.  Others are just big and black until broken open and you see the silver on the inside.  I have others from BC that have a nice blue cobalt stain.
Title: Re: Cobalt Ontario
Post by: ebuyc on December 23, 2012, 03:34:10 PM
Thanks to both of you guys!

Here is the first piece of galena I found in Northern Idaho:

( ( Bigger pic link (

Title: Re: Cobalt Ontario
Post by: sunshine on December 23, 2012, 03:41:39 PM
Cryptic.  Nice slice of rock.  You are right that the easy and obvious spots close to Cobalt have been heavily picked over.  In the musium in town they sell little chips with very little sliver content for quite a bit.  I have bird hunted in the area and stumbed across some spots that are still pretty good.  It is a nice way to explore because even if I don't find a good spot to detect, I have fun and get a few birds.  I am training my dog to find sulfides, and perhaps she will be a help next time I am there.  If you find the name of the refiner, I would be interested, but the offer sounds almost too good unless they also charge you for the refining.
Title: Re: Cobalt Ontario
Post by: sunshine on December 23, 2012, 03:45:02 PM
Yes, that Idaho rock looks similar to many of the Cobalt rocks.  They really make the detector sing. 
Title: Re: Cobalt Ontario
Post by: sunshine on December 23, 2012, 03:47:43 PM
The other thing I wanted to try by Cobalt is to get into the water and look at the tailings that were dumped into the lake.  There was so much silver taken from there that many of the mines only kept the really good stuff that was almost pure silver and dumped the rest.  Some of the mines were right on the shore of the lake, so there must be good stuff below.
Title: Re: Cobalt Ontario
Post by: Former Guest on December 23, 2012, 04:23:20 PM
Yes i also have few pieces of silver ore be some lead there also, i will take pics of them and post in my pics tomorrow i crushed mine some of it to -20 mesh and run over my seperator and recovered the silver and washed the junk rock away. Leaving me with pure gelana left. Now just needs smelting now. I could crush some more and video it and post anyone like this? Shooting some over xmas so could add this to my list of to do cheers Ray
Title: Re: Cobalt Ontario
Post by: sunshine on December 23, 2012, 06:37:57 PM
I never tried crushing any of my rocks for placer-like recovery.  I whacked lots of them with a sledge or rock pick, just to see what was inside.  If you try it Ray, I would be interested in hearing how long they stay looking like silver or do they oxidize (black) quickly.  It sounds like a fun thing to do, but too much work as a way to separate the silver to sell.
Title: Re: Cobalt Ontario
Post by: Former Guest on December 23, 2012, 06:54:45 PM
I have done some already few years ago sitting in vials now with caps on so no new air and full. Galena is soft so smashes easy. Not much work to it. It got rid of the wast rock attached to it, and leaves pure gelena behind, i have few lbs crushed but if going to video would crush another piece for this.I also have some gold, copper ore to crush and video that recovery. Its the same process just differend ore being processed. I have vials of both as done few times just not on video. So will shoot and post over xmas time. Also got home made magnut and screen pail also to shoot and post so will be busy after this contest with that. Glad it is winding down i am tired of posting like crazy now lol but its gold we are after so got to work for it lol cheers Ray
Title: Re: Cobalt Ontario
Post by: campx on January 13, 2013, 01:15:15 PM
This is the coolest thing I have learned about at Cobalt.  A guy I work with used to mine there.....
Title: Re: Cobalt Ontario
Post by: sunshine on January 14, 2013, 06:44:03 AM
The compressed air engineering, from a plant on the Montreal River was pretty cool.  In that site, there is a map that shows the route of the pipe to the various larger mines.  It is a pretty good way to start for someone that wants to explore the area and look at tailings.