Algoma Ore Division 1938 - 1998
Iron ore was first discovered in the area in 1898 by Ben Boyer, when prospectors were searching for gold. Since that date there has been several significant events in the area’s iron ore history. Since 1898, there have been 111,482,497 tons of iron ore mined and 76,060,869 tons of lump ore and sinter shipped to blast furnaces in North America
History of Ore Mined
Mine Operating PeriodGross Tons Production
(Old) Helen Mine 1900 – 19182,405, 135
Magpie Mine (roasted ore)1913 – 19211,360,000
(New) Helen Mine 1918 – 1919167,908
(New) Helen Open Pit1939 – 19453,824, 317
Victoria Open Pit 1945 – 19504,192,189
(New) Helen Underground1948 – 196015,116,215
Victoria Underground1952 – 19605,432,424
Goudreau Open Pit1958 – 1963840,861
Sir James Open Pit1958 – 19677,646,269
Lucy Open Pit1967 – 19701,072,531
G.W. MacLeod Underground1960 – 199869,414,648
Grand Total 111,482,497
The original ores at the Helen Mine were approximately 51% iron and the ore at the Magpie Mine although a lower grade, was roasted in large kilns and the grade was upgraded to approximately 50%.
The Helen Mine was reopened in 1939 to mine siderite ore. Previously, the lower iron content (approximately 35%) was not considered of value. However, a recently developed method of ore treatment called sintering would improve the product the iron level to 51%.
“Sinter” means to heat into a mass without melting. There is a progressive fusing of the feed mixture as it travels along a moving grate sinter machine.
History Sinter Machines
MachineStartedSize Phased Out
Nos. 1, 2 & 3Jul 1939 5’W x 77’LFeb 1966
No. 4Oct 19496’W x 76.5’LAug 1986
No. 5Jun 1954 6’W x 76.5’LAug 1986
No. 6Aug 19576’W x 102’LJun 1998
No.7Feb 196612’W 105’L1998
The record annual sinter production was in 1973 when 2,030781 tons of sinter were produced.
In order to remain competitive with much larger and more modern pellet plants in North America, the Algoma Ore Division had to introduce several cost reduction initiatives and have a highly trained and effective work force.
1954First friction hoist in Canada at the G.W. MacLeod Mine
1966First 12’-0” wide sinter machine in North America
1979First underground cable belt conveyor system installed in Canada, also the world’s largest
1988First underground mine in Canada to implement a computerized ore tracking system
1989First underground mine in Northern Ontario to eliminate purchased mine air heating and install a natural heat exchange system.
For approximately one hundred years, iron ore mining played an important part in the local economy – at its peak approximately there were approximately 1,200 employees. Early Wawa was a mining town with the company playing a significant role in the development of civil infrastructure – the Lady Dunn Hospital, the airport, the early town’s roads and infrastructure. The last sinter was shipped June 2018 – twenty years ago.
There will be an AOD “Get Together” – EVERYONE welcome to attend the social. The event will be at the Michipicoten Memorial Community Centre, from 1:00 to 4:00 PM, on March 15th. There is no charge. If you wish a ride to the event, please call in advance and arrange with the Wawa EDC office 705-856-4419.
There will be photos, slide shows, and history information about Algoma Ore and Wawa. As well Kaireen Morrison will have her “Through Our Eyes” on display, and Johanna Rowe will have some of her local history books there, and of course the recent booklet celebrating Canada 150 will be there.
The event will be set-up, so you can sit and talk and enjoy tea, coffee and some cookies. Make it an afternoon.
Initial operations began in 1938 and the Ore Division operated annually until 1998. 2018 is the 20th year sine the last sinter was railed to Algoma Steel.
Bernie Thorp, from Algoma Steel (retired) will be there to provide information on current events at Algoma, and there will be a directory of Algoma Steel contacts available.
Supported by the Municipality of Wawa, the Wawa EDC, Seniors’ Goose Club, Regional Employment Help Centre, Local Media and many volunteers.
See you there – Andy Stevens