Saturday, February 27, 2016

So much secrecy

I was researching this week about some prospectors I had met over the years. One of them was Franc Joubin. I interviewed him several years ago. He is the man who made the famous Blind River Uranium discovery that lead to the creation of the town of Elliot Lake. Joubin is legendary among prospectors as a Mine Finder. I count myself lucky to have met a handful. Anyway, discovering a new mine takes a lot of work, and a lot of secrecy. I know there are many stories about all the secrecy surrounding the discovery of the fabulous Kidd Creek orebody. I never realized until Thursday about how Joubin kept the uranium discovery secret so that he would have time to stake his claims. I read about it in a 1955 edition of LIFE magazine of all places.
Back then, when you staked a claim, you had 30 days to file the claim with the Ontario Mine Recorder’s office. In order to capture the full extent of the uranium discovery, Joubin had to stake hundreds of claims. As it turned out, Joubin and his team hired scores of claim stakers from Timmins and they flew out in a squadron of float planes from South Porcupine in July of 1953. The landed secretly on a series of lakes in the bush around Blind River, 250 miles southwest of Timmins. Within that month they staked 1,400 claims covered more than 50,000 acres. This would eventually see the creation of the Denison, Rio Algom and Eldorado Mines. What a time that must have been. Who says mining isn’t exciting.  
And that story is only half as interesting as how Joubin found the uranium in the first place. Several years before, sitting in a tent north of Sault Ste. Marie, another prospector gave Joubin a chunk of rock that was radioactive, and set his Geiger counter ticking like crazy. Turning the rock over, Joubin saw the word LONG had been written on a piece of paper with that rock. That was the only word.

It would take him years of searching before he realized there was a remote place called Long Township near Blind River. Even then, it would be years before he found the Uranium deposit. 

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