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Frood Mine and Frood Extension

History

Town site photo

An old sidewalk

©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko

The infamous Frood Mine, which held the title for many years of being the greatest nickel-copper ore bodies in the world, also has one of Sudbury's most colourful mining histories.

It began in 1884 when a trapper, William Nelson, tipped off Thomas Frood about a potential mineral outcrop in the northern part of McKim Township. Frood enticed a partner by the name of A.J. Cockburn to investigate the site with him. Both men set off for the bush and quickly found the spot on lots 6-7, Concession 6, McKim Township.

Cockburn staked lot 6, Concession 6, while Frood only applied for the south half of lot 7, Concession 6. Both men independently transferred their titles to J.H. Metcalf and W.B. McAllister, in whose names the patents were issued in the summer of 1884. The title was subsequently transferred to the Canadian Copper Company (CCC). The CCC only did some light exploration, but the property (number 3 mine) was kept idle.

In the meantime a few other prospectors had also canvassed the area and made a few significant discoveries. James Stobie and Rinaldo McConnell were two seasoned prospectors and both men staked the Stobie Mine, located on the south half of lot 5 Concession 1, Blezard Township, just north east of the Frood property. In 1886. William McVitties also staked a small claim for himself on the north east quarter of lot 7, concession 6, McKim Township.

The claims within Blezard Township were quickly sold to the CCC and subsequently opened as the Stobie Mine that same year. McVitties later sold his own claim to Frank Cochrane in 1908. Cochrane in turn sold it to the Mond Nickel Co. for $100,000 in 1910. The neighbouring claim on the north western section of lot 7, Concession 6, McKim, lapsed in 1909 and was quickly re-staked by the Mond Nickel Co.

Although the neighbouring Stobie Mine was operational until 1901, it wasn't until 1899 that a drill crew was sent to explore the number 3 mine which by then also known also as the Frood property. After a sizeable ore body was found, a shaft was hurriedly sunk and crude mine buildings, along with a rail spur were erected. The following year the mine began production. Difficulties in separation and processing of the ores forced the CCC to close the mine in 1903 after producing 110,545 tons of ore.

The CCC (later INCO) anticipating an early closure of the Creighton Mine hastily reopened the Frood Mine in 1913. Inco deepened shafts number 1 and 2 and built a larger shaft house, added a larger hoist, rock house, along with supporting buildings. In anticipation of a large operation, the firm surveyed and incorporated a village site known as the Town of Frood Mine. That same year INCO built nine homes and a rooming house, complete with a post office, dryhouse, following a year later with a school. The mine was operational by 1914 but closed barely a year later after producing 174,354 tons of ore. The discovery of a larger ore body at the Creighton Mine, and the difficulties of processing the Frood ores, were again the main factor for its closure.

The Mond Nickel Company was by then searching for additional ores to honour its war commitment. In 1913 the two claims forming the Frood Extension were extensively probed by drill crews and shaft sinkers. A large camp was even built to house the men. The Frood spur was pushed from the Stobie Mine's spur to reach the site. By 1915 ore was disclosed at depth and work was discontinued when the shaft reached the 1,000-foot level. After the Mond property was shut down, the post office and school quickly followed suit.

In 1924 INCO reopened the Frood deposit for additional exploration. It soon became apparent that the site contained 90 million tons of nickel-copper ore. The small town site was resurrected and quickly became home to over 100 men who lived at the site, some with their families. The post office reopened again in 1926. Activity underground had resumed on both properties. INCO had commenced the sinking of its deepest shaft, the number 3, and built a larger shaft house. In 1925 Mond also reopened their deposit and began preliminary work by erecting a proper shaft house, hoist and additional buildings. This time there was no turning back.

Mond began erecting a town site on the property, hurriedly building 25 homes, a three-storey bunkhouse and cookery. They also established a company store and added a schoolhouse. The two sites filled quickly accommodating 400 residents. INCO's town site, although the smallest, contained 150 residents.

By 1926 the die was cast. Both companies had deepened their production shafts down to 2,000 feet and began raising ore. However the fragile balance established by both firms was about to become upset. In 1926 it was found that the Frood Mine and Frood Extension were one continuous ore body. In 1928, INCO had sunk a five-compartment shaft to 3,040 feet and Mond, a four-compartment shaft to 3,345 feet. The Mond workings were extensively developed to exploit ten levels at 400, 750, 900, 1,200, 1,400, 1,700, 2,000, 2,400, 2,800 and 3,300 feet. Big money was now at stake.

In order to process all the Frood ores, Mond would have had to spend over $12 million to expand their smelting, refinery, and mine facilities. INCO had already spent $10 million on the property by 1926 and was planning to spend another $14 million to complete its necessary upgrades. Both firms realized that each others' operations would soon hamper the workings and tie up good rich ore, lost in the creation of buffer zones. Millions would end up being wasted by duplicating the same processing facilities, and would create an unsafe working environment for the hundred of miners working below ground. There was only one solution, a merger between the two largest nickel producers, the Mond Nickel Company and INCO.

In 1928 Alfred Mond (Lord Melchett), Chairman of the Mond Nickel Company, and Robert C. Stanley, President of INCO, met to discuss the merger. The direct result was an immediate agreement between the two men. Through a simple exchange of shares the Mond Nickel Company would be integrated within INCO. On January the 1st 1929, the merger was completed quietly without any complications or changes. To this there was only one exception, the Frood Mine properties.

Once the merger was complete, attention was focused on working the Frood Mine to full production. It was soon realized that the combined properties contained no less than 43.5 million tons of high-grade ore, while 91 million tons of lower grade ore were outlined. It was also discovered that the closed down Stobie Mine was also an extension of the Frood property and nearly 14 million tons of ore were found on the site. INCO's facilities were quickly upgraded to incorporate a daily supply of 10,000 tons of ore from the Frood Mine alone.

The stock market crash in the fall of 1929 had very little effect on the firm. However, by the following year, the general malaise of the economy led to a deep depression in the nickel markets and production levels were drastically curtailed. By 1931 only 173 residents lived on both town sites. The Frood Extension town site was used little, apart from a few homes, while the Frood Mine's town site which housed the managerial staff, staff was still fully occupied.

In 1934 INCO had recovered financially and was now geared to increase its production. Plans for an open pit were drawn, and the project finally commenced on a large scale in 1936. The Frood Extension mine buildings and town site were both removed. The post office closed in 1937. A few additional homes were added to the INCO town site however by 1941 only 70 residents were living at the mine. A decade later the open pit was nearing its end after gouging a 200-foot deep hole in the Frood-Stobie pit. Underground operations eventually resumed at the Frood and Stobie mines. By 1948 work had commenced at the Stobie and the underground workings were connected to those of the Frood. In 1952 The Frood pit was closed for good, and underground operation fully resumed.

As a result of all the new activity at the mine, the small town site was revamped in 1951 to include additional homes. By then there were 24 dwellings for the additional supervisory staff of the Stobie-Frood Mine. The following year the population had grown to 109 residents and by 1956 had increased further to 124.

In 1959 the city of Sudbury applied to the provincial government for permission to annex the remainder of McKim Township and the town of Frood Mine. In 1960 the amalgamation was approved, much to the disappointment of INCO. The company responded by shutting down the town site. By 1966 there was only a small population of 19 people left. and by 1971 none remained. INCO removed the town site in the 1970's completing its revenge against the city of Sudbury.

Although the town of Frood Mine was gone, mining activity continued. By 1968 the infamous number 3 shaft contained two underground shafts, numbers 4 and 5. The number 4 shaft began at the 2,783 foot level and was sunk down to 3,200 feet. Shaft number 6 reached 3,390 feet, number 7 reached 3,105 feet, and number 8, 2,624 feet. In 1969 the number 9 production shaft was completed and began operations, replacing the older production shafts. Shafts numbers 6 to 9 were all located on the Stobie property, however by this time, the operations were treated as if it were a single mine. The numbers 7 and 9 had been deepened to 3,892 feet and 2,774 feet respectively.

In 1999 operation on the number 3 shaft was officially shut down thereby ending the Frood Mine's long history. INCO's Frood Mine headframe finally came crashing down in 2005, however number 3 shaft is still in operation and continues to produce. Stobie's shaft still stands and produces to this day continuing the legacy of mining on the Frood deposit.