Is Rossland’s mining history about to come to life again?
Though Rossland’s mining industry has been dormant since the early 1970s, there have always been rumblings about undiscovered riches in the area and it’s not uncommon to see prospectors hiking off into the bush each spring. Now there’s a chance that large scale mining may be returning to the area. The gold rush days are long over, but it may be time for a...magnesium rush?
In 2001, two Calgarians, Frank Marasco Sr. And his son Frank Jr., came to Rossland to investigate an old mining claim called the ‘O.K.’. The Marascos were interested in getting into the gold mining business. Subsequently, the pair acquired the Midnight, IXL, Snowdrop, and Golden Drip claims, hired a team of geologists, and began exploring.
Their search led them west along the Cascade Highway to the 8K mark, where they discovered the same ultramafic rock they had encountered in a group of claims west of Little Sheep Creek. Volcanics were also predominant there.
They drilled near 8K and though they were originally looking for gold, they didn’t find any. Instead, they found magnesium—a lot of magnesium.
Now, after having spent close to twelve million dollars on exploration over the last decade, the Marascos have established the presence of a world class ore body of 9.1 million metric tons of magnesium ore (which is roughly 23.1% magnesium by volume).
The Marascos’ company, West High Yield Resources, a publicly traded company on the Toronto Stock exchange, now intends to establish a mine and processing facility on their claims.
Magnesium is considered a ‘green’ and in-demand commodity. Magnesium board can replace gyprock, OSB, plywood, and cement board; it is fireproof, smoke proof, water proof, mould and mildew proof.
Marasco says that there are many claims that can be made in favour of magnesium: increased use of magnesium in building reduces the demand for logging, thereby preserving forests. Additionally, magnesium-based cement products extract CO2 from the atmosphere as part of their drying process. Finally, magnesium alloy is a growing component and becoming a requirement in construction of all new automotive products, which will contribute to a reduction of CO2 emissions.
Asked how such a mine might benefit the local community, Frank Marasco (the company’s president and CEO) replied, “Well, after all the extensive provincial and federal permitting and ecological protocols have been met, it will mean probably around 300 direct jobs in the community for decades.
“The raw material is here. All we have to do now is mine and process it. There will be little waste product to speak of as we have determined that we can utilize almost all of what we take from the ground. We are hopeful that we can be a benefit to the community of Rossland and help provide a financial base for growth and progress for many years to come.”