The Last Skip Ceremony at Stobie Mine
Stobie Mine Outside

Many people gathered at Frood Stobie Mine for the Last Skip Ceremony held on May 30, 2017.

In the last 130 years 58,000 miners have mined 375 million tonnes of ore from Stobie Mine. Today the last skip of ore came to the surface as Vale has put the mine on care and maintenance. Today’s ceremony was attended by many special guests as well as scores of staff, past and present, from Stobie Mine who gathered to share their memories and find out a bit more about the history of the mine.

Stobie Mine Harshaw Beckerleg

Stuart Harshaw – VP Ontario Operations Vale with Stobie Blast Boss Wayne Beckerleg.

Stuart Hershaw, VP Ontario Operations Vale welcomed guests which included Rick Bertrand, President of USW Local 6500, Miners for Cancer co-founder Wayne Tonelli and Wayne Beckerleg who gave a very heartfelt speech on his time at the mine as a blast boss for 28.5 years. A time capsule, manufactured by Brian Carruthers, Guy Tremblay and the millwright team will be lowered to the 3000 foot level where future miners may discover it and learn about Frood Stobie’s mining history. Rick Bertrand President of USW Local 6500 added an armband inscribed with the names of all the miners who had lost their lives at Stobie Mine to the time capsule. A painting of Stobie Mine called “Twilight” by local artist John Stopciati was included and Vale invited everyone to contribute their own items to the capsule.

Stobie Mine Rick Bertrand USW

Rick Bertrand, President of USW Local 6500 with the armband inscribed with the names of miners who lost their lives at the mine which will be put into the time capsule.

Wayne Tonelli who co-founded Miners for Cancer with Allan Epps also spoke at the Last Skip Ceremony. Vale mine staff have to date raised and donated $1.1 million to the Northern Cancer Fund. Miners for Cancer also provided the barbeque held on site at the Frood Stobie Mine complex after the ceremony.

Stobie Mine Wayne Tonelli Miners for Cancer

Wayne Tonelli is the co-founder of Miners for Cancer. He spent his career at Stobie Mine and acknowledges all the support Miners for Cancer received from his co-workers at Stobie and other mines under the Vale umbrella.

The video below shows the ceremonial last skip filled with 20 tons of ore that had come up from the 2600 foot level. Normally the skip travels at a speed of 3000 feet per minute but the last skip came to the surface at 1000 feet per minute for the ceremony.

Stobie Mine Time Capsule

People were invited to put items into the time capsule which will be lowered to the 3000 level of the Stobie Mine.

Some Highlights from Stobie Mine’s History

  • Stobie Mine opens in 1887 as an open pit mine producing 180 tons of ore a day.
  • Stobie Mine is closed in 1901.
  • In 1914 Stobie Mine began underground operations.
  • The No. 8 Shaft Headframe was constructed in 1952 and used 360 tons of steel in the 120 foot headframe. The shaft was had two skip compartments, a manway and pipe compartment and went down 2,624 feet from the surface.
  • In 1959 Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visited Stobie Mine on July 25, 1959 almost 20 years to the date that her parents visited in 1939.
  • In 1967 Frood/Stobie Mine starts operating.
  • In 1968 No. 9 shaft is sunk and by 1992 all ore was hoisted to the surface via this shaft as other shafts were decommissioned.
  • In 1968 the mill was closed and all ore was shipped to the Clarabelle Mill in Copper Cliff.
  • In 1995 production at Stobie Mine increased to a peak of 10,000 tons a day.
  • On November 28, 1964 a blast at Stobie Mine became the biggest in the history of underground mining releasing over 3,750,000 tons of ore and 1,500,00 tons of rock in the blast which used 464 tons of explosives.
James Stobie Greater Sudbury Public Library MK0572L

Stobie Mine was named for James Stobie who was a prospector and discovered the orebody.

The mine was founded by James Stobie who was a prospector and was one of the founding fathers of mining in Sudbury. Born June 29, 1841 in Crief, Perthshire Scotland, James Stobie came to Canada when he was 4 years old and settled in the Ottawa area. At first he taught school for $50 a year before moving to Sault Ste. Marie with his own family to see if he could make better money prospecting for iron ore in the Bruce Mine area. In 1883 he heard about the discovery of ore at Murray Mine in the Sudbury Mining District. He jumped in his canoe and paddled to Algoma Mills and when the waterways ended he walked the rest of the way to Sudbury. He found the Mont Nickel deposit in 1885 and soon after he found the Stobie deposit for which he applied for the patent on September 1, 1885. The Inco Triangle wrote that he didn’t have much equipment but he did have “a nose for ore”. Soon after he sold the rights to the Canadian Copper Company (forerunner of Inco and now Vale) and went on to discover Levack Mine and many more mining properties. Prospecting was much more lucrative than teaching. Stobie and his fellow prospectors sold the Levack Mine property for $640,000. James Stobie died at his home in Ypsilanti, Michigan in 1919 at age 79.

Greater Sudbury Archives Stobie Mine

These photos of Stobie Mine were taken in 1909. A school teacher John Gillespie from Sudbury Public School on Elm Street took 9 of his students to the mine for a field trip. You can see the students at the mine entrance and looking over the wooden rails into the open pit with the Stobie smelter in the background.

The Frood Mine, produced 40% of nickel used for allied forces in WWII.

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